Our #SmartGivesBack initiative to support small business owners throughout the US and Canada has officially begun with OC Declutter, a home and office organization company based in Orange County, CA, and run by founders Heather and Taylor. They began their company in 2019, but have had a passion for organizing their entire lives. However, the road from tidy people to business owners has been full of adventure. Both ladies individually realized the impact clutter not only has on their spaces but also on their well-being; seeing the difference they could make in their own homes inspired them to help others.
What made you want to start a business together?
Heather: “Before becoming business partners, we had been friends for almost 10 years. I was beginning my teaching career and Taylor was entering into sales in the corporate world. A few years later, when the house across the street from me went up for sale, Taylor and her husband bought it. We were pregnant with each of our 2 children at the same time, experiencing both pregnancy and motherhood together. Having our lives follow these parallel paths meant that we were experiencing the joys and challenges of life at similar times. It really allowed us to lean on each other and work through problems together. What we realized was that we had a similar approach to many aspects of life, and that included keeping it organized.”
Taylor: “Organizing is what we did to de-stress and have fun - I know that sounds weird. Enough people told us we should do this professionally that we had to listen. We took our experience in the workplace - Heather was still teaching high school English and I was keeping schedules, events, and people organized as an Executive Administrative Assistant - and at home, we were wives and mothers of two young children - to branch out into helping others. We knew it would be fun, we knew it would be challenging, but what we didn’t realize was how fulfilling it would be to see the positive impact our work had on people’s lives.
Tell us how a typical project starts
Taylor: “Initially when clients reach out to us, it’s often because they feel their spaces have gotten out of control. Maybe they want to reorganize their closet, clean up their pantry, or make space in their garage. What we often hear is “I don’t know what to do with all this” or “I don’t know how it got this bad” or “Maybe we just need a bigger house.” We can relate to all of these thoughts from our own experiences and empathize. What we try to do is take some of that burden off our clients’ shoulders and offer them solutions. We love doing walkthroughs of people’s homes and immediately coming up with ideas to better use the space.”
So you’ve identified what area needs some love, what comes next?
Heather: “Getting to know our clients, their likes and dislikes, design aesthetics, lifestyles, and routines, help us to create a plan that will specifically fit their needs. From there, we get to work with them to determine what to keep, donate, purge, or move to long-term storage. This is the part clients seem to dread the most but often becomes their favorite part. It doesn’t hurt that Taylor still has held on to her high school cheerleading skills. “You’re doing GREAT!” “You’re killing it!” are phrases often heard during a purge session. It is amazing to see people visibly lighten when they see all that they’ve been unnecessarily holding on to in one place. From there, we clear the area, create storage systems that will be practical and beautiful, and give them a fresh, clean space. The reveal is totally our favorite part - we feel like Chip and Joanna Gaines at the end of an episode of Fixer Upper.”
Did you find your expectations of running a small business to be different than reality?
Taylor: “What we underestimated when starting this business was how life-changing this would be for our clients! It’s so true that our physical spaces influence our mood and comfort levels; to hear how happy we’ve made them is a total joy. We often get messages weeks or even months later from clients who tell us how much they still love a space we organized or share that they were inspired to declutter a different part of their house. To know that we can help make a positive difference in their lives is the absolute best.”
What is a hurdle you’ve experienced while running your business?
Heather: “Soon after finding a stride in our business, the Covid-19 pandemic began. Of course, it has been difficult for the whole world, and it was difficult for us to know that our job (that involves going into clients’ homes) would have to be put on pause. Predictably, we each went into extreme organization mode in our own homes (even organizers have to declutter), and we found we were able to help people virtually through FaceTime and Zoom. With so many of us transitioning our homes into offices and schools, we loved consulting with how to better make space functional for multiple purposes. While our first year in business wasn’t what we envisioned, we’re looking forward to growing in 2021 and getting back to doing what we love.”
Any advice for someone interested in starting their own business?
Heather: “The biggest thing we’ve learned is that there is no perfect time to start a business, but also that it’s never too late. We finally took the leap when our lives were in many ways at a pinnacle of chaos: we were both working full time in our careers and raising our toddlers. But we knew building an organizational company was something we wanted to do, so we made it a priority. This meant reaching out for support from those around us: from our husbands to make sure we had time to work, from our friends and family who let us grow our skills in their homes, and from other small business owners who gave us advice from their own experiences. The final thing we’d tell others starting a business is to accept and enjoy the learning process - you’re not going to always get things right the first time or know all the answers, but you’ll gain so much knowledge along the way that will benefit you greatly later on.”
We had the pleasure of providing Heather and Taylor with new toolsets, lightweight tool bags, branded business apparel, and various project items used in last weekend's pantry overhaul for a family in Orange County that was impacted by COVID-19. They spent 4 hours reorganizing and finding ways to make it more zero waste.
To learn more about OC Declutter please visit their website www.ocdeclutter.com or Instagram page @oc_declutter