We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Kathryn Lavallee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mary Kathryn, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is something that often comes up when I tell people I started my business right after graduating my master program in a field that has seemingly very little to do with my background. I cannot count the amount of times people have said “wow, what a huge risk” to me, and for a long time I would play it down because I never know how to act with a lot of attention and praise. However, I picked this question because I think risk taking is a huge factor into my success today, and I look at it differently because of an earlier life event.

When I was in the 9th grade my grandpa told me “you can only fail if you don’t try. If you try, no matter what the outcome is, you will learn something valuable”. He told me this as I applied to a very academically challenging private school as a dyslexic student. And this story doesn’t have the happy end many people will think. I did get into the school, however, one semester later with close to failing grades, no self-confidence, and on the verge of depression I asked my parent if I could leave the school half-way through the year.

I remember the moments before telling my parents “I could not make it” like it was yesterday. I felt embarrassed and like I would be a disappointment. I aim to please and push myself in almost everything I do, and feeling like I just could not do it brought me right back to trying to spell my overly long name in first grade when other kids where reading starter chapter books. To my surprise, and I’m not sure why because I always had supportive parents, I was greeted with hugs and “we are proud of you for trying” and that this didn’t define me. Little did we know, “failing” at that school was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned that it in fact didn’t mean I would or wouldn’t be successful and I went on to get a 4.0 in both undergrad and my master program.

After graduating from college, I started to apply to jobs and as many people find, but for some reason no one prepares you for, getting a response to a lot of applications isn’t as easy as I thought it would be with my two degrees. As an eager person, I was tired of waiting for some automated program to see my worth and land me an interview. So, I did some cliche “self-exploration” and decided what my main goal was in life, and I kept coming back to one word. Happy. I wanted a career that let me help people, I wanted hours that allowed me to pursue my other passion of traveling, and I wanted to love everyday. So at this realization, I felt like starting my business wasn’t really a risk at all. The risk would have been to not start my business and just hope, somehow, I would be happy. Starting my own business allowed me to follow both of my passions, organizing and helping people and do them every single day. It allowed me to have the freedom to make my own schedule and the freedom to adapt my business to ensure I was happy. Here I am three years later, and yes, starting a business is a risk, but never forget that giving yourself a chance at happiness is a far greater risk! And even if you fail, I bet you learn something.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started my professional organizing business, OrderUp Design with the intention to help people transform their lives through organization. At first, it can be hard to understand the impact disorganization can have on a person and/or kid. As someone with learning disabilities and ADHD, school was never easy! Being organized is what got me through every step of the way. I knew I was most likely going to fail every test I took, so I stayed extremely organized to make sure I had every assignment and project points I could get! staying organized through school helped decrease my test anxiety and helped me function at a much higher rate than I would have otherwise been able to.
When I went to college I realized organization was the one piece many people were missing! I helped my friends and realized it could in fact really change people’s lives.
My business holds that value above all else! We are here to help clients get organized so they can relax when they get home. We put function over everything and tailor each space to fit the individual needs of each client.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I really love to hike! I know that’s not everyone’s idea of a good time so it would probable depend on the friend who came to visit. But for the sake of the questions let’s go with our outdoor loving friends.

I would definitely take them on a few of my favorite hiking trails. One of my favorites is Hyde Farm trail which is along a beautiful creek and never packed. Kayaking on the hooch would be another activity on the itinerary! We are so lucky to have so many amazing trails and activities right on the water in the city.

Some of my more popular activities would be walking on the belt line and grabbing a bite to eat. For a nicer dinner I love Two Urban Licks and for more casual the Lazy Llama has the best shrimp tacos I’ve ever had!

I would also take them to the Botanical Gardens, my favorite is the orchid room! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Definitely my dad! He is a business owner in the Atlanta area and without his mentoring I would have had no idea of where to start. He has been the one I go to for all advice business related!

Website: https://orderupdesign.com/

Instagram: @orderupdesign

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/orderupdesign/

Image Credits
Mary Kathryn LaVallee; Elle Wood http://www.ellewood.com/

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