By Laura McAlister
Halfway through the season of her reality show, “The Amandas,” professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc thinks there are a few things viewers should know.
No. 1, she’s not really a crier – despite a few breakdown caught on camera – and more importantly, No. 2 – she really, really loves her job.
Whether the Style Network gives her reality show a second season is yet to be seen. Whatever happens, the Amandas and her Cahaba Heights store, Clutter Prescription, are here to stay.
“TV shows come and go, and that’s fine,” she said while at her shop on a recent afternoon, dressed, of course, in a stylish dress and knee-high boots. “What really matters is that I’m doing what I love. This is my passion.”
“The Amandas” debuted on the Style Network Jan. 31. The 10-show series follows Amanda and her team of professional organizers as they de-clutter the lives of their clients. The show airs at 9 p.m. Mondays but reruns several times throughout the week.
Amanda said it’s been an interesting journey since filming of the show began to actually seeing herself and her crew on television and getting reactions from viewers.
“It’s been kind of head swimming,” Amanda said. “We’ve always had clients in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Now we’re getting calls from people in New Jersey, Colorado.
“It’s kind of like, which way to you go? What do you do? We’re really busy, and we really are out there doing business.”
While the show depicts what they do, which is just about everything – they clean, take out the trash, install cabinets and more – Amanda said it’s not always what it seems like on camera. A one-hour show is actually edited down from about 250 hours of filming, she said.
“We would start on a Monday and finish on Friday,” she said. “We really had four cameras pointed at us all the time. We were literally working on one to three hours of sleep, and all the while we were having to plan for the next episode, but that’s not something we could let the people see.”
People do get to see just about everything else on the show. While it’s all about de-cluttering the homes of her clients, viewers do get a bit of the lifestyle of Amanda and her team. Whether it’s their personal or their professional lives, it’s all included in the episodes.
Amanda said it was a tough decision for her, but in the end, she decided she did want her family – including her daughters – to be a part of the show.
“At first I didn’t want that, but then I realized they would never get to see me if they weren’t in it,” she said. “Now, my girls love watching it. They get really into it.
“My oldest said when she grows up, she wants to open a business in competition with me.”
When it comes to her team, Amanda said some episodes might give the impression that there is tension among them. But, she said, they are all really one big family.
Amanda also said it’s untrue that she forces her team to dress like her, which is almost always in a flirty dress paired with high heels.
“That’s been one of my biggest criticisms, that I force them to dress like this,” she said. “Sometimes I think, ‘are we watching the same show?’ Yes, we really do install closets dressed this way. I tried the uniform with T-shirts and jeans, but I hated it.
“I have no dress code, only no flip-flops or jeans that show your crack. I tell them to dress the way that makes you feel good. Leave the house feeling confident in the way you look.”
While Amanda said she could let some of her detractors get her down, she focuses on the positive feedback instead.
It’s been humbling, she said, to have so many working mothers compliment the show and understand her struggle of balancing family and work. She also said fellow Southerners have been pleased with her representation of the area.
“The good has so outweighed the negative,” she said. “I’ve really had an outpouring from the South. I think people are happy to see an educated business woman from the South.
“Other people have said it really does help them, because this show really is for the normal person. This isn’t ‘Hoarders.'”
The show does tackle everyday families’ disorganization, and most of those families are right here in the Over the Mountain area. The first show kicked off with a Mountain Brook family, and Amanda takes viewers all around Birmingham, from her daughters’ school to dining and shopping spots.
For those looking for a little inspiration to de-clutter that kitchen or garage, Amanda offers the following advice:
– Take it one step at a time. The clutter didn’t happen overnight, and neither will organization.
“If it’s the kitchen, start with the drawers and then move to the cabinets,” she said. “The worst mistake is to try to do everything in one weekend. It makes a huge mess, and you’ll feel defeated.”
– Make sure everything has its place.
Amanda is quick to admit that her own house isn’t perfect. Her husband is bad about leaving his towel on the bathroom floor, she said, and her girls often don’t put away toys. They do know, though, that before they get something out, they have to put up what they were playing with before.
– Always remember quality over quantity, Amanda said. She points to her own closet as an example.
Her purses are neatly hung in their assigned places in her closet. She noted, however, that there aren’t that many of them.
“I have just a few purses, but they are nice purses,” she said. “I probably paid way too much for them, but I only have a few. I’m a big believer in quality over quantity.”