Uwila Interview: Kelly McMenamin

Kelly McMenamin

and her sister Katie are the founders of PixiesDidIt, a website and now a book where they give tips and advice on how to organize your home based on your personality type. 

Kelly and her sister have learned to appreciate their vast differences and work together through their knowledge of personality types and have banded together to create a resource for people to learn how to organize their homes in a way that works for them.

We got a chance to sit down with Kelly and ask her a few questions about PixiesDidIt, being a woman in the workplace, and about what Uwila Warrior means to her.

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Uwila Warrior: So you are half of PixiesDidIt? Where did you get the idea for it?

Kelly McMenamin: It started with my sister, who was the opposite personality from me. Our mom went back to get her masters in art therapy when we were teenagers, where she learned about personality type theory; after that, it kind of just became a common language in our household. It helped us to understand where each one was coming from, and our funny tagline now is, "It's not personal; it’s personality."

Kelly (right) and her sister, Katie

Later, my sister came to me when I was getting really burnt out in investing [note: before PixiesDidIt, Kelly worked as research analyst for a hedge fund] and was like, “here's your birthday present—” it was the website, Pixies Did It. “Maybe someday we can start a business and call it Pixie's Did It,” she told me. And back then I was like, “that's the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”

You don't come up with the name and then randomly attach a business to it. But it actually worked out, because Pixie's Did It is the answer to who organized your home.

UW: So the Pixies just released a book called Organize Your Way. How did this go from just a website to this book—or was it the other way around? What did that process look like?

Kelly: Maybe a year after [the 2008 financial crash] we just didn't have that many clients. We did have free time on our hands though, so we decided we should figure out how to scale up for whenever we did have more clients. We could write a book—kind of duplicate ourselves a different way and get our message out via a better website, blog, a book. 

We decided to go the book route, because it is really hard for people with [mine and my sister’s] personality types to work together—but as we've been forced to be together for 42 years as sisters,we figured out how to make it work.

Our clients love that they hear both of our voices. We have a client who is more like me, naturally organized, there is a place for everything, and everything has a place. That person really appreciates my voice being louder, and the vice versa for somebody more like Katie.

With a book it's really easy to (...) read her stuff and think, “ugh finally someone understands me.”

She piles more papers, is just a little messier and definitely has more clutter around than me, is more flexible with time, that kind of stuff. And with a book it's really easy to tune my parts out, if you're like Katie and just read her stuff and are like, “ugh finally someone understands me.”

UW: So how is the book formatted exactly?

Kelly: We have the quiz in the book and then we break it down by room. I think one of the biggest obstacles that almost every personality type faces is that it's always such a big job to get organized because it really is everywhere in your house. So it's by each room, and then within each room are universal tips that work for everybody, because we are all human beings. And then specific tips for each personality type within each room.

UW: On your website you describe your own personal style as neat. Can you give us a little bit of an overview of what that means for you specifically?

Kelly: I think [my style is] what our traditional idea of neat is. And the reason I like it that way is because when it is clear, I feel calm. I feel together 

When you think about why everybody is in a search for the holy grail of organizing, it's to feel calm; it's to feel relaxed. I think it's a search for the holy grail, because when you don't have my personality type and you're looking at soluble images of what I think is perfection, it's really hard for somebody else who doesn't have my type to get there. You’re not driven in the same way.

Kelly and Katie at an event for Wunderbooks PR.

For people like my sister, who is on the opposite end of the personality and organizing spectrum…she just doesn't notice those details so they doesn't stress her out. It doesn't mean that she cannot look at a soluble image and be like, “oh that's beautiful.” But to attain that for her is much more effort and energy than it would take for me to attain that image.

UW: That’s awesome! We love the idea of organizing around what’s best for you—it’s why we strived to create underwear that made sense in women’s everyday lives.

Speaking of which: how did you hear about Uwila Warrior? How did it come into your life?

Kelly: Well I heard about it from Lisa—we remained really good friends after working at a hedge fund together. I always said to her that I liked working with her so much that I would go back [to the hedge fund], and I hated working for a hedge fund. That is how much I enjoyed Lisa's company and intelligence and wit.

She and I kept in touch. We had lunch a couple years ago, and she started talking about maybe starting a lingerie company around beautiful stuff that was actually comfortable to wear. I had just bought a boatload of underwear, and when she told me she was starting this company I said, “never mind, I am trying hers” because I know that this is a woman who is going to do it right.

It was hilarious because she has this beautiful line with underwater animals, and I have three boys. They love underwater creatures and so I was like, of course, I have to get jellyfish underwear.

So I was inspired in a rather eight-year-old boy way by my initial purchase, but I just thought it was so beautiful and such a cool idea. And to me the underwear kind of evoked a different era when underwear was more comfortable and beautiful and you could walk around in it without feeling like you are totally naked.

I just thought [Uwila] was so beautiful and such a cool idea. And to me the underwear kind of evoked a different era when underwear was more comfortable and beautiful and you could walk around in it without feeling like you are totally naked.

UW: So your favorite pair is the glow in the dark happy seams?

Kelly: Yes, that’s my favorite pair. I kind of get excited when I get to that pair, when I got through my rotation in my drawer, my little carefully folded underwear drawer.

UW: We love that! Thanks for the compliment. We did want to ask you though: how was that transition from doing hedge funds and finance to doing something more stereotypically, I don't want to say female, but it is definitely different, that's a huge jump for you.

Kelly: I think my personality type kind of liked being in a male dominated field. I guess I survived in there better. There were aspects I liked about it, and I think the hardest thing was really that when you are in a hedge fund. 

These firms are paying out so much money to research and everything that when you call and you ask for things people get those for you at a moment’s notice--but when you're just a nobody, it takes forever to get anything done. Even though worked ten hour plus days, it was a very privileged existence. Starting your own business when you come from that is humbling.

UW: What's your one line of advice to women at all stages in the workplace? Whether they are just entering or whether it's someone very established—what would be your one liner to them?

Kelly: Just remember to keep going forward. Keep working hard. And you'll end up getting it. You'll end up achieving your dreams. Sometimes it's just not on your timeline, so just let go of the timeline and keep working towards your dreams and they'll probably come true.

 

Interview By: Joanna A. 


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