How 2 Home Organizers Blew Up Instagram (and Landed a Book Deal and TV Show as a Result)

Plus, how home-office order can boost your productivity.

Courtesy of The Home Edit

The job of a professional organizer—those who get paid to make sense of messy spaces—isn’t new but with the average American workday stretching out beyond the 8-hour mark, and the population spending double and triple the amount it once did on non-essential items, the demand for such services has grown exponentially. The National Association of Professional Organizers launched in 1985 with 16 members, for example, has approximately 4,000. The home organization retail industry, meanwhile, is worth a cool $16 billion and that number is expected to grow to almost $20 billion by 2021.

Within the world of professional home organizers, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit stand out from the pack. Their spaces, which range from kitchen pantries to shoe closets, aren’t just organized—they’re insanely beautiful too. Sure, it helps that the Nashville-based duo works with high-end clients, but from their elevated containers to their impeccably handwritten labels, they do more than line up Louboutins in order of color. Scan their ultra-curated Instagram feed, then watch their hilarious, down-to-Earth Instastories, and you’ll immediately understand how they landed a TV show with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, while their forthcoming book is the currently the #1 New Release in the Home Improvement section of Amazon. In short, this talented duo has the work ethic, taste level, marketing savvy, and personality to make a big splash in a growing field.

Get to know Shearer and Teplin a bit better, and learn more about what it takes to be a professional organizer, through our Q&A below.

ONE37pm: Can you begin by telling us a little bit about your respective professional backgrounds? What did you do before launching The Home Edit?

Clea Shearer: I actually went to art school. Before organizing, I worked in the fashion industry—which is why my organization approach comes from an aesthetic standpoint. I’ve always been extremely type-A and neurotic, so making organizing my career felt like a natural transition.

Joanna Teplin: I come from a more traditional organizing background. When I met Clea, I’d already owned an organizing business but on a much smaller scale. Clea brings the form, and I bring the function. It’s a perfect balance.

What was one of the biggest challenges in getting this business off the ground or scaling it once you had some traction?

JT: Learning how to prioritize and be realistic with our time and commitments. Especially when it comes to growing our business and still being available for our families. The opportunity we took to travel a lot, film a TV show, and work with influential clients has largely impacted the expansion of our service-based business and brand—but it is also hard with young kids (we each have two!)

What’s something you realize now you did very right with THE? What’s something you would do differently if you could go back and start again?

CS: One of our best decisions was using Instagram as a tool to visually explain, share, and promote our exact kind of business. We quickly came to realize that pictures of beautifully organized spaces seemed to calm people (aka #pantryporn). And then when Instastories came along, we started documenting our “Surviving Not Thriving” lives as moms, business owners, etc. We didn’t know how our followers would react to it, but it turns out that people are a fan of a clear, honest contrast from a beautifully-curated Instagram feed. At this point, we wouldn’t change a thing.

How did you determine your pricing structure? Did you look at other industries or use any specific thinking to establish your rates?

JT: Our pricing structure is determined by many factors—so many of our clients are outside of Nashville, so there are travel costs associated with these jobs. We have a new fantastic team in Los Angeles and were looking to launch an NYC based team in the spring, which will give people more options.

Your first book is coming out in May of 2019—congrats! How do you think this will change your business? Are there any “book deal” myths or learnings you can share?

CS: We are constantly asked questions about organizing and how people can go about doing it for themselves and with this book, we can finally share our secret sauce! We are SO EXCITED to highlight the tools that bring peacefulness and order to your home. We want to help everyone finally wrap their head around not just what needs to go where but why, and we think this is key to maintaining your beautiful spaces.

As far as our own experience in creating the book, we hit the lottery with our agent, who has shepherded us along the process every step of the way. Our publisher, Clarkson Potter, has been fantastic as well so here’s to hoping people like it!

What goals do you have for THE in the future? What are some ways you’d love to see it grow?

JT: Our main goal is to continue giving people the tools to bring peacefulness and order to their home. Also, to show people that organizing isn’t rocket science. If we can do it, so can you! So, however we can spread that message—a book, TV show, and beyond—we’re here for the ride.

Why should every entrepreneur make time to organize his or her home and office? What power does this have?

CS: A well-organized workspace is beneficial for a variety of reasons. For starters, it helps productivity. You're able to get more work done when you don’t have to search under a mountain of papers for the stapler. An organized space can also help manage your stress level. Rule of thumb: If your mind begins to feel as cluttered as your desk looks, it’s time to create a system. By doing this, many people have said their lives became easier, even out of the office. Who wouldn’t want that?

What are some of your favorite tips or ideas for keeping a home office organized? Any favorite products or stores for this?

JT: Tip 1: The first step is always the edit. If you’ve neglected your office drawers, empty everything out of them. It might seem messy at first, but this is what’s going to help you maintain an organized system. Lay the items in front of you in separate categories (pens, post-its, loose coins, papers you thought went missing months ago) and throw away anything you don’t need. It will also help you take inventory of all the duplicates you may own. For the items you don’t need but may in the future, store them away in a labeled box.

Tip 2: Your desktop is where the work typically gets done, which is why you shouldn’t overload it with storage products. Try to leave enough room for your computer, a printer, or other large tech devices as possible. Then, consider which items you need within your immediate reach and make sure they remain visible and accessible. Stackable and modular products are both ways to utilize this space wisely. If you have wall space or room under your desk, take advantage of shelving that can comfortably hold categorized storage bins and supplies.

Tip 3: Designate stations for your various tasks. For example, if you tend to write down notes while on a call, place all your pens and Post-Its next to the phone, or in a drawer next to it. For current, ongoing, and future projects, each should have a separate home in 3-space bin or file divider. If you have a specific spot, it will help decrease clutter that would otherwise accumulate.

What business or organization or design book would you recommend everyone go out and read tomorrow?

CS: Definitely Joanna Gaines’ new book, “Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave.” She’s our design idol!

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