Looking to fill one of the gaps in helping seniors age at home, Darlene Tripp’s business "Hello Darlene, Senior Transitions & Organization" aims to assist seniors in transition and home organization. Tripp is a professional organizer, and eldercare planner, meaning she helps with decluttering, downsizing, legacy planning, aging in place, retirement home relocation, companionship visits, and more.
She started her business during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has evolved successfully and is also now a member of the Elder Care Planners of Canada Association, a professional consultant on aging, and a home safety specialist through Age Safe Canada.
“I was in the Alzheimer's society's office in the spring of 2019 and I saw a business card of another individual who is a professional organizer, and didn’t even realize this was an actual service and thought it was an interesting profession that I would love to try. I retired in October 2019 from the financial banking industry and came across this card again.
Reaching out to connect with the owner for a chat, she shared with me about her business and about the Professional Organizers of Canada. During the pandemic, they were offering courses at a discount, so I thought ‘I'm at home, I'm not doing anything so why not pursue this’ and that’s how it got started, with a passion for organizing and really just through networking with someone.”
Tripp says her networking skills were carved out after a 34-year career with TD Canada Trust. She says she never planned to immediately jump back into the workforce after retiring, but her journey lined up that way. Her professional and personal experiences were merging into this new concept beautifully.
“After I completed the training with Professional Organizers of Canada, I was immediately connected to a network of amazing individuals all across Canada, probably around 300 of us, and we specialize in everything from older adults to clients with mental health needs and businesses organizing inventory or documents. It's a very comprehensive list of different kinds of organizing experts,” says Tripp.
“When I finished that training, it just happened organically where I decided I might as well open a business, but I didn't feel like the business concept was complete and that's when I decided to add on the senior transition services because when I reflected on my own work and personal experiences. I felt like I wish I would have had someone to support us when we were going through all of this as a family over a six-year period of walking through a dementia journey with a loved one with a new diagnosis.”
Trip says she spent a good portion of the pandemic networking virtually and was able to meet about 100 new people in a year, both locally and across Ontario.
"It was a fun distraction and I met so many wonderful people all across Ontario.
“Initially I really focused on building my brand and networking. I did a ton of presentations to groups virtually both locally and outside of my community to be able to just share what my business was offering and share what I had learned and the types of services that are out there for people to connect with and that really helped me build my brand presence,” she says.
“I'm very busy which is nice, as I had not planned on doing this at all, I had not planned on having a second career, but it has been a wonderful experience,” she says.
Tripp says some of the clients only need her services for a few weeks while others could need her for longer periods of time. "So I am often working with clients for a long period of time and we develop a very close connection."
Tripp says one of the keys to her business is to be very non-judgmental and compassionate toward the people she is helping.
“I would also say my business is very customized so it's not really a one size fits all. I combine many of my service offerings together to be able to create the right package or service for that family or individual.”
She adds there's also a lot of initial hesitation for people to reach out.
“We feel like we need to do everything on our own all the time, and that's no different whether it's you and your mom and you're trying to keep your house together or whether it's someone who's a power of attorney who's struggling to sort of step into that person's shoes and manage everything plus their own life as well,” says Tripp.
“I think just that reaching out for support is so important and usually when people do they feel that sense of relief. It's that initial stepping outside of your box and asking for help that is hard and it's especially hard for many older adults who have never really had to do that before.’ We all like to be independent.”
Tripp says one piece of advice for anyone starting their own small business is to have a good support system in place.
“It can be scary being an entrepreneur, you have to really hustle for business. I feel like having that solid business background is really what supported my endeavour. You need to have a business plan, you need to do your market research, you need to know who your competitors are, and you also need to have more than one stream of revenue. Also, being a retired banker, really being aware of the finances within your business is huge. Have a solid budget and goals," says Tripp.
She adds staying organized, good marketing, and a good brand presence are some of the biggest keys to her success.
"We provide excellent service, are compassionate, and caring, and develop strong relationships with our clients which is critical to our success," Tripp says, “It really is a passion project and it's such a rewarding second career. Every day that I'm with somebody who is just so grateful for the support, and so I've been really pleased to be able to help others navigate what can be a complex process.
I love being an entrepreneur and providing services to my community that is so much in need!"
You can reach Darlene at her website, Hellodarlene.ca, or via email at [email protected]
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