CINCINNATI -- Beyoncé and Justin Bieber may have legions of assistants to help keep them in shape, organized and clutter-free, but international pop superstars aren’t the only ones who can have personal assistants when they need them.
For the rest of us, it’s a matter of having Assistise on speed-dial.
Assistise (www.assistise.com) is an Over-the-Rhine-based personal assistance business founded in the spring by Cincinnati native Michelle Colbert. For an hourly fee (plus mileage), a client gives Colbert her to-do-list … and she does it.
Services include household organization, administrative support, grocery shopping, errands, holiday help and away-from-home services, among other tasks.
“I have one client I work with every week and have no idea what I’m going to be doing week to week. It could be framing pictures, grocery shopping or post office runs,” Colbert said.
Colbert, who graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, already had a background in service before launching Assistise.
“I feel like every other job I’ve had has led me to this,” said Colbert, who previously worked as a film production assistant and in retail at Saks Fifth Avenue and Whole Foods. But it was during a stint living in California that Colbert found a blueprint for how her personal assistance service could work.
“I was doing assistant work with a couple of other girls, primarily in Santa Monica and Venice, when my father-in-law’s health brought us back here,” she said. “I started doing a lot of work for a local client and I thought, ‘Why I am waiting to move back to California to start this business?’”
Colbert launched Assistise with one client. One quickly became four, and four has become a two-page roster on her phone. Clients include an entrepreneur who needs help with office administration and an 84-year-old woman downsizing her four-bedroom home. There are also teachers, lawyers, executives and friends from SCPA.
One client uses her as a fitness companion. This can mean visiting Cincinnati Sports Mall, finding new walking routes through Eden Park or climbing stairs in Mount Adams.
“I’m not a trainer, but I’m there to hold her accountable and come up with some new ways of working out,” Colbert said.
Her client list also includes Nora Fink, a busy personal stylist and mother of two young boys.
“It’s so helpful. I use Michelle to make myself carve out time to do things I don’t want to do. She’s an accountability partner,” said Fink, who – like many of us – has a well-intentioned but ever-growing pile of items to be fixed, recycled or donated. “As kids get older, they grow out of toys, and stuff accumulates. I felt like we were getting overrun. I have her go through every room, pack things up and take them to the Seven Hills (School’s) Resale Shop.”
It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living keeping others organized and efficient is also extremely organized and efficient. To keep on top of her schedule, Colbert uses two important tools: apps and wheels.
The Hours Keeper app lets her make client profiles, create and send invoices and links her phone’s calendar. She also uses an app called Mileage IQ. “This has become increasingly important because I’ve gone from barely driving to always being in my car.”
Her 2003 Honda Element is often carrying items from three or four clients.
“I can grocery-shop, take in donations, and I’m able to fit two large cat carriers in there,” she said.
Colbert cites her work ethic, personality and respect of her clients’ privacy as keys to her success – along with people’s need for an extra set of hands.
“I waited in line at the post office for 45 minutes the other day,” said Colbert. “My clients are mostly working women who already have a lot to do. I come in to assist them so they can come home from work and be with their kids and family, or just have some free time.”