You know how much I love supporting women and I freaking love discovering incredible, kind women, doing amazing things and killing it. Molly Graves is one of the co-founders of NEAT, a company that specializes in home organization… they are absolutely dominating the market and are in high demand. I mean, Kate Hudson is one of their clients…(** full disclaimer, they don’t usually neat and tell but Kate posted first so that’s okay!) They’re seriously taking over America one household at a time and have clients from Los Angeles, Chicago and New York to Milwaukee and Dallas and everywhere in between. This blooming business began out of a passion for organization and quite literally, keeping things neat. Molly bonded with her co-founder Ashley over their love of being organized and from there, their genius business idea was born.
I, personally, am a big believer in a cluttered space being a representation of a cluttered mindset and life and for anyone feeling overwhelmed with mess and chaos, that is where NEAT come in, to de-clutter, tidy, organize and relieve the stress that mess can create.
Professional organizer and one half of a two woman powerhouse team, Molly is all about women supporting women and knows that the pie is big enough for all of us. We’re all extraordinary and all on this Earth for our own unique purpose, so why aren’t we being more supportive of one another? Molly is also living proof that there’s no way it’s supposed to be and that sometimes a life twist can catapult you onto a different path that may not be part of your ‘plan’, however, if you trust the process and know that you are exactly where you’re meant to be and it is actually veering you off course to something incredible. She is also living proof that women need women. No ifs or buts, we need to be kind to one another, we need to support one another and help each other grow.
Molly shares so many beautiful insights throughout her interview, below, from the importance of kindness, to business advice to seeing the value in each other and finding the beauty in that. I hope you love reading it as much as I did for the first time and come away feeling inspired to spread kindness into the world and support the women around you, because, we’re better together.
MOLLY GRAVES // CO-FOUNDER, NEAT METHOD
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my 25 year old self that no matter how planned you are, life is going to throw you a million curveballs and the best you can do is roll with the punches! It’s nice to have an idea of what you want but be ready for opportunities that you never expected and life experiences to change your mind on what you thought you wanted. I had always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember and I did teach, but only for 5 short years. I ended up moving to California where my certificate wasn’t valid: this is how I ended up launching NEAT with Ashley and I wouldn’t have changed that opportunity for the world.
What is your philosophy on life?
My philosophy on life is to live with intent. It is so easy to get caught up with to-do lists and the day-to-day that we often forget that we really only have one shot to live our best life. I try to start the week by creating goals that are not just work related, but personal, and for others so that I can have a well rounded week.
‘We need to collectively see more value in each other instead of seeing each other as competition.’
The greatest life lesson you have learnt so far?
I have two young boys (1 and 2 years old) that are just shy of 15 months apart. From that I have learned so many things. First, not to be afraid to ask for HELP! Second, with boys so young and so close in age, there are many opportunities that you can choose to laugh or cry: I have learned to choose to laugh nearly every time. I just cannot take life too seriously at this season I am in.
How do you show yourself you love yourself?
I try to fit in a workout about 3 times a week. I think raising two boys, it is important to show them the strength of a woman. Not just physical strength but mental as well. Working out gives me a good foundation for both because I am able to break a sweat and clear my mind for a bit of time.
In your opinion, how can we, as a collective, learn to promote positive self talk confidence and body image?
Wow, this is tough. I think it starts by supporting each other. Women shaming other women is likely ONE of the roots of this problem. There is room for all of us here and we are all here for a different reason. We need to collectively see more value in each other instead of seeing each other as competition.
Something you don’t tell yourself enough?
Sit down. I’m always doing something whether it be for my family, friends, work… I am ALWAYS going and I need to remember it is okay to sit for a bit!
How do you pull the cord on a pity party and pick yourself up when you’re having a bad day?
I think it’s easier to pull the cord when you have kids. There really just isn’t time for a pity party. Typically though, if I am having a bad day, I like plan some sort of self care – an extra workout class, a new top or even a facial seems to turn things around QUICKLY.
‘There is room for all of us here and we are all here for a different reason.’
What triggers stress / anxiety for you and what are some of your coping mechanisms?
Overcommitting typically is the number one trigger for me with this, I hate saying no but I hate being a flake even more! I’m constantly working on trying to be more realistic with my time. I am always reminding myself that everything seems fun until you are so over committed and spread so thin that you can’t enjoy whatever it is you are doing. Better to have a few quality experiences than a bunch that you tried to just make it through!
How do you define kindness and why do you believe in it?
To me, kindness is putting someone else’s thoughts and feelings before yours. Whether it be as simple as giving a hand to someone that might need help with their groceries at the store to doing a service project for a charity. I believe in it because when we put others before ourselves we are a part of something bigger. Even if for a small moment you gain this perspective that there is more to this world than just ensuring YOU are living a good life, it’s making sure others are as well.
Is there a particular act of kindness you have received that has always stuck with you?
I have a dear childhood friend that could not be a kinder person. When we had our second child, she wrote a book for our son entitled, “Word to Your Brother.” It was a story all about how change happens and how it can be good and how being a brother will only increase his happiness. It brings me to tears every time I read it.
In your opinion, what can you can do for someone who you may notice is directly experiencing unkindness?
I think it all depends on how well you know them. I think if you see something and you don’t know the person, acknowledging that unkindness can mean a lot. Telling that person that you saw what happened and you don’t like it and ask if they are okay can go a long way.
‘I believe in kindness because when we put others before ourselves we are a part of something bigger.’
Have you experienced challenges and setbacks and what have they taught you?
In NEAT we have experienced a lot of challenges and set backs. We have pioneered this industry as it relates to expanding a brand into a lot of different markets. It has taken a lot of time to learn how we can do it and what makes the most sense for the women running the brand in their city. Honestly, it has taught me that there is a reason why there aren’t a million successful businesses. It takes a lot to make something work when it has never worked before and I couldn’t have done that without the support of my co-founder, Ashley and our partner, Marissa.
The best way to overcome limitations?
For me, it has been to just be honest with myself about what my strengths and weaknesses are and to rely on my partners as it relates to business and family as it relates to personal. I think the first thing with limitations is to call them out. They are nothing to be ashamed of. A good support system will ensure that you are always growing and working on those limitations and weaknesses.
Advice for honing in on your passion and turning it into a career?
I think the first thing to do is to determine whether or not there is something that you do every day that you love even if you aren’t getting paid for it. Then, you can ask yourself if there is a way that you could get paid to do it! When we started NEAT we just had a love for organizing spaces and making things look NEAT and pretty at the same time. We realized quickly that this skill (that we thought everyone had) was not innate. Then we grew a brand that we felt really embodied our skills and the rest is history (more or less!)
From your experience, do you have any wisdom to impart on networking and ‘putting yourself out there’?
I am a Midwesterner so I have no problem with putting myself out there. I love meeting new people and hearing about what others are doing. That said, I think that would be my suggestion – go into networking to learn about others, not to benefit yourself and you will enjoy it more and get more out of it!
What real advice can you offer on believing in yourself and following your dreams?
The most real advice I can give is that with every decision, a sacrifice is made. You need to asses which sacrifices are worth making and which are not. For example, if you are making great money at a job you may sacrifice time, or the reverse may happen. Make sure you have your priorities straight and you can easily make dreams come true. Above all else know that there is no situation where you are living in a “perfect” world that you see on social media. There isn’t a world that offers you EVERYTHING that you could ever want. That is okay – life isn’t meant to be perfect – there are challenges for a reason. Embrace them and learn to love them!
Is there something you wish was universally instilled in girls from a young age?
Ask questions, ask for help and do whatever makes you truly happy.
‘Kindness is putting someone else’s thoughts and feelings before yours’
Who inspires you?
My Mom, My best friend, Maggie, My business partners Ashley and Marissa, My sister, Betsy and sister in law Holly. The women who know me best, inspire me the most. I confide in them and know they have my back no matter what!
Your favorite quote that always inspires you?
“A ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for” Albert Einstein