SAUK RAPIDS – Julie Braun knew she needed a change.

The Sauk Rapids resident and former construction company owner had partnered with a job coach to identify a new professional adventure she could be excited about.

“The idea of sitting behind a desk and crunching numbers didn’t appeal to me anymore,” she said. “I wanted to run my own business.”

Braun, a mother and grandmother, says the idea to start a home and office organizing company appeared to her in a dream. She hopped online and, to her surprise, discovered few companies performing such services in the St. Cloud area.

“It was just meant to be,” she said. “It was fate.”

Braun founded Smart Organizing Solutions, or S.O.S, in the spring of 2019, and honed her skills by organizing her parents’ home. Today, she travels across the St. Cloud metro area, assisting with residential and office de-cluttering projects, home downsizing efforts, garage and estate sales.

Julie Braun, SOS founder/owner (Abby Faulkner)
Julie Braun, SOS founder/owner (Abby Faulkner)

And couples like Ray and Martha Roth, who, after years of collecting odds and ends, needed to free up some space.

The Roths say downsizing has been a “work in progress” since they moved into a smaller home in Sartell seven years ago, but they needed a little help.

Braun, who attends church with the Roths, came to the home for a consultation.

“Julie wasn’t judgmental at all,” Martha said. “Before we began, she just wanted to walk around the house get a feel for where we were at.”

“They weren’t able to park both cars in the garage,” Braun said. “Ray had the opportunity to buy some really nice shelving for it, so I facilitated that purchase and helped install it.”

With Braun’s help, the couple soon parked both cars in the garage, and filled their shelving with items reorganized into newly labeled boxes and containers. Martha says Braun helped devise a system of containers in the kitchen for everyday items like keys, mail, and Martha’s purse.

“It was something so simple and you think, ‘why didn’t I think of that?” Martha said. “She was really good at seeing those simple little things.”

“Everyone needs a place to put those types of things,” Braun said. “Rather than just letting them pile up, put them away right away. Keep them somewhere you can find them when you need them.”

Braun also helped the couple sort belongings – including items inherited from relatives who have passed away – into piles to keep, donate, throw away or sell.

The process was collaborative, Braun said.

“Once they got started, they came up ideas on their own,” she said. “It’s important to ask (clients): ‘do you want to keep it? Do you want to donate it?’ You kind of need that.”

Ray and Martha Roth, SOS customers (Abby Faulkner)
Ray and Martha Roth, SOS customers (Abby Faulkner)

“We’ve learned that if we let something go, we’re not disrespecting the person,” said Martha. “We’re not throwing the person away. We’re just trying to make space for time and energy to give to others.”

“We understand that each of us have things we have a hard time letting go of,” added Ray. “And, it’s okay to have some things we’re not ready to part with.”

“We have (Julie) on retainer,” Martha laughed. “There are definitely some corners that need the Julie touch.”

When she's not busy with clients, Braun attends business networking group meetings. She's a one-woman show right now but plans to add her daughter to the company as a co-owner in the future. She’s also forming connections with realtors and hopes to partner with senior living facilities.

For anyone contemplating an organizational project of their own, Braun has simple advice.

“Start with one room at a time,” Braun said. “And start with an easy room. Maybe your linen closet, or your pantry. Don’t try to do it all at one time. Take breaks when you need to.”

“And call me!” she laughed.

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