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It’s completely justified to describe Maria Baer as ultra-organized.
Growing up, she loved organizing her friend’s closets and figuring out ways to make her small, shared bedroom functional. She dreamt of one day starting her own business helping others get organized but wasn’t sure how to bring it to fruition. After working for a local start-up, she realized she needed to just take the leap and start her business.
“Did you know that people don’t have all the answers before starting a business? This was the most liberating lesson I learned during my time there and it gave me the confidence to take a chance on myself,” Baer says.
So, she did just that in 2017 and started The Baer Minimalist.
The Baer Minimalist is an Indianapolis-based residential organization business. Baer’s goal is to help her clients organize and stylize their spaces, and ultimately “minimize the stress that comes from having too much clutter and create a customized system that is easy to maintain.”
“Based on the work I do, I want my home to feel like a calm, orderly place when I settle in at night,” Baer says. “It’s definitely a journey that you never really finish, but I am very conscious about the things I purchase and bring into my home.”
We spoke with Baer and picked her brain about minimalism, what three things we should be throwing out of our homes now, and the unique way she met her husband.
Maven superpower: Getting the dance party started! I have no qualms about being the first and last one on the dance floor. My moves have been compared to Gumby, which I take as the ultimate compliment.
Tell us more about The Baer Minimalist and the services you offer.
I get the privilege of helping clients get really organized in their homes. My goal is to always meet my clients where they’re at. So, things don’t have to be Pinterest perfect but we’re just trying to help people make improvements and streamline some of the systems that aren’t working for them. I do a lot of prep for clients getting ready to move and unpacking when they’re in their new home. Some of my clients just lived in their homes for a really long time and they’re ready to start sifting through things to make it easier on the next generation.
What would you say to someone who’s afraid to let go of things?
My goal is not to force people to get rid of anything. I really want to make the process feel as good as possible. A huge piece of my business is connecting my clients with all of the non-profit organizations around town who are doing such good things of getting items into the hands of people in need. Sometimes I think that makes it easier to let go.
What’s the hardest part about being a minimalist?
Kids are the hardest. I basically have minimized my wardrobe down to a very, very small amount of clothing compared to what I used to have. I rent my clothes through Anthropologie’s rental site called Nuuly, which I’m obsessed with and it’s much more sustainable.
I feel like there’s a lot of things that I do that are environmentally conscious and preach that minimalism thing. When it comes to my kids, they’re constantly getting gifts from friends and family and bringing home stuff from everywhere we go. I think you also have to just embrace where your family is at, which is why I would say we’re not total minimalists. I’m also very mindful of what comes into my house and what we purchase and all of that because stuff totally stresses me out in my own home. I can look at other people’s stuff all day long and it does not affect me. In my own house, it really does.
Organizing is a big part of your job. How do you stay organized and motivated?
For me, work feels a bit like self-care, I love it that much. But staying organized with twins and a husband takes work. We use the COZI family app to share our grocery lists, weekly meal plan, the good ole’ honey-do list, and packing checklists. With my small but mighty TBM team, we use TRELLO (a project-management app) to ensure that we are collaborating effectively and always understand who’s working on what. It’s been a godsend as The Baer Minimalist begins to expand.
“I can look at other people’s stuff all day long and it does not affect me. In my own house, it really does.”
Name three things we should throw out immediately.
Expired food, cardboard (recycle it), and clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle or your body.
If you could swap pantries with anyone, who would it be and why?
Martha Stewart. She is the GOAT when it comes to organizing and teaching you how to fold that perfect fitted sheet. I can only imagine the products and tools that could be discovered there, and I’m sure her cookbook collection would inspire thousands of fabulous meals.
What’s your go-to lipstick shade?
It is called ‘Grape Jelly’ by Anastasia Beverly Hills.
Who’s a woman you admire?
This is someone that I’ve met very recently. I just hosted my girlfriends from across the Midwest for a weekend here and we had the privilege of having Chef Tanorria come and cook a meal for us. She shared more about her journey on MasterChef and how she basically created this incredible business that was very different from what she was doing in the past. I am just so inspired by her. It was one of the most amazing meals.
Tell us about the best advice you’ve ever received.
Progress over perfection. I’m a recovering perfectionist, but really love implementing these wise words into the work I do with clients on a daily basis. It is impossible to have a “perfect” house but making progress to create a space you love is such an incredible investment in your well-being.
If you were on a deserted island and could only take three things, what would they be and why?
My SuperGoop! Unseen Sunscreen (it’s my skincare splurge), Spotify (I’m a podcast junky and love having a soundtrack to accompany my life), and a limitless supply of Rifle Paper Co. cards to send to family and friends (I’m a sucker for snail mail and am positive deserted islands have post offices).
So, you previously worked as a Starbucks barista. Are there any industry hacks you can share?
If you love iced beverages, light ice is where it’s at! Less ice makes for smoother frappuccinos and creamier chai tea lattes.
Name a fun fact about yourself.
I am married to my college sweetheart who I met in New Zealand when we were studying abroad. He’s a Butler grad and I went to the University of North Dakota. So, I am a Hoosier transplant.
How do you unwind after a long week?
Sitting with my husband on the back deck, a crisp glass of New Zealand Sauv Blanc in hand, with a charcuterie board not far from reach, soaking in the sounds of Lions Park downtown Zionsville, whether that be a baseball game or concert.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.