Organized for You rearranges for functionality
Organizing a home or office goes beyond finding a place for everything and tossing items that don’t “spark joy.” Ensuring the new setup and systems work long-term means understanding the people involved.
So says ELIZABETH BOARDMAN, owner of Organized for You, a Wilmington business she launched in 2014. During her initial visit, she hopes to see exactly what is frustrating a client.
“I get to know them, see their space and see where things land,” she says of her initial approach. “I tell them please do not clean up before I come. I try to tailor (the solutions) to the person and what works for them. As we get older, we can teach ourselves to do things differently, but at a certain point, we do what we do. If something really bothers you, though, you have to train yourself differently.
“I don’t come in to judge, and I don’t come with any pre-conceived notion,” she adds. “Very rarely does anyone live in a perfect home. Most people need help to figure it out.”
When her clients are busy parents or harried small business owners, Boardman works on a kind of space-time continuum: making the most of a client’s physical space and streamlining how they use it to save them time. She tackles “anything within their home’s four walls that is frustrating and could be improved upon, where there is no system in place but where one could be maintained. I think in terms of systems because I come at this from a retail background.”
Boardman’s approach – part engineering, part psychology – draws on her former career as a manager at The Fresh Market, where she supervised about eighty employees.
“I loved working for The Fresh Market, but after becoming a mother, I felt a huge shift throughout my makeup,” she says, explaining that she felt her primary work driver was the strength of her relationships with her staff, her customers, and her vendors. Then she became pregnant with her second child.
“My husband said it was time to focus on what I really wanted to do and to become my own boss,” she says. “When my second child was eight months old, we bought a home, and I set up the house while I was still working. I invited a friend to see how I had set up the playroom and other spaces, and she commented that I ‘lit them up.’”
That remark along with her husband’s advice lit up Boardman’s imagination.
“I thought, there must be people like me, working full time and not having enough hours in the day to get everything done,” she says. “It got me thinking about professional organizing.”
While her first clients were busy career moms like herself, Boardman has expanded her organizational savvy to helping small business owners whose workspaces threaten to overwhelm them.
“Typically, people hire me to help in their stockroom – my retail background helps – or their home office. Sometimes it’s the paperwork side, helping them get a better system. It’s always dependent on the person. Some (clients) I have helped in their homes, and then they will ask me to come put a pair of eyes on a work problem, like making a stockroom more efficient.”
Asked what experience in her retail career has proven most valuable to her as a professional organizer, she talks again about relationships.
“In retail, you work with so many people and you see everything: good, bad, and beautiful. You build those relationships. I always enjoyed the customer service side of my job but didn’t realize how much until I separated from it. The customer service side (of retail) probably prepared me the best for helping in people’s homes, even down to checking the pantry for expired food items that should be tossed.”
Organized for You now has a third set of clients: residents preparing to downsize their living space who need help winnowing their belongings. Not only can Boardman help with the logistics of sorting, packing, and labeling household goods for a new, smaller space – she can also coach clients through the difficult task of letting go of treasures.
“One woman I spent a lot of time with over two years was on a list at a retirement community but didn’t know when a unit would become available,” Boardman says. “She was proactive; she knew she needed help, so we were able to go through things slowly. I’ve done that but also have clients who are deadline-driven.
“I love hearing all the stories (about items they own). A lot of times, just sharing that story gives them the ability to let go. Sometimes I think that having someone who isn’t a family member, who’s not involved, is helpful to someone who needs to downsize.”
Another factor that can help a client let go of long-held items is knowing that they can be donated where they can be enjoyed and used again. She prefers the path of donating to a nonprofit instead of trying to sell those items.
“I don’t stop people from holding a yard sale or selling things online, but it’s a lot of work,” she says. “In this town alone, I tell them, there are people who need these things, even if your family doesn’t. That can bring joy.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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