HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Fear Of Buttons March 29, 2012

Filed under: Closets & Storage,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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Are you itching for a new spring wardrobe?  Beware not to let koumpounophobia, a real documented phobia of buttons, set in.  Watch this tip on how to store those extra buttons that come with new garments so you can actually find the right buttons when you need them.

If you can’t see the video thumbnail, click here:

Please comment below to let me know what you think of this idea to save and store buttons, and how you would make it even better.


The Amandas: Reality TV, Not Reality Organizing February 14, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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You’ve gotta love TV.  If you’re looking for a new sweetheart, check out Amanda LeBlanc , star of the Style Network’s new show, The Amandas. She’s sweet, smart, driven and gorgeous.

My only beef with her new show is that it is billed as an organizing show.  Unfortunately, it’s really more in line with what we’ve come to accept these days as “reality TV,” which has very little to do with reality.  If you are looking for organization inspiration and education, you’re better off with some of the more true-to-life shows like those on HGTV or even shots on the newest social media-crack-addiction, Pinterest.com. I’m not saying these are 100% reality either, but there is a high probability that they represent real organizing outcomes with much less TV producer-induced drama.

Organizers in high heels aren’t new, but they are not the norm, and in fact, not reality.  Yes, I wish I had her team’s drop-dead wardrobe, but if I did, I wouldn’t be scraping floors, painting and climbing ladders in it. If you call a professional organizer, you can expect a professionally dressed person, who is hopefully appropriately dressed for the type of work they will be undertaking.

I love my team, and they are each priceless, with their own talents.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I have no desire to turn their unique talents into little mini-dramas just for TV viewing.  And whenever I am fortunate enough to have a staff of six, you can believe that one of them will be a full-time handy-person or carpenter.  The Amandas could be just as great of a show with her team chosen for their talents and not their egos or shoes.

While it makes for good TV, I wish that The Amandas TV show didn’t harp so much on Ms. LeBlanc’s striving for perfection.  She rants through tears in a recent episode, “Everything I do is PERFECT!”  To quote Michael J. Fox, “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.  Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”  I’ve lived enough and seen enough homes and businesses to know that perfection isn’t attainable or maintainable.  Good organizing processes should result in spaces that can be lived in, adapted, and easily maintained.  But good organizing processes don’t always result in magazine-pretty.  Having been a part of a magazine shoot, I could tell you some of the silly stuff that goes on to create that beautiful shot that you admire for about 10 seconds, but that gets burned into your psyche.  So, if you decide to seek me out as a decorator, professional organizer, or home stager, recognize that there is only so much I am willing to put you through, because good organizing processes are “good enough.”  Good enough to get you out the door in the morning with a smile on your face, good enough to lower your stress levels, good enough to allow you to enjoy your beautiful home without going into crazy debt, good enough to allow you to file your taxes on time, and good enough to allow you to get ahead at work.  And I promise not to cry twice an hour and leave you feeling more stressed than when we started.

One thing that the Style Network got spot on was choosing a star for their show who is both professional and a professional organizer.  Ms. LeBlanc is an entrepreneur, a respected member of her community, and a smart woman.  She’s building her business and taking care of her clients with great detail.  She’s also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, which is a serious support organization for professional in our industry.  I not only belong to this organization, but I have volunteered on committees at the national level, and have served on the Board of NAPO-Greater Philadelphia Chapter.  I have a long list of involvment in community affairs.  And I’ve committed to this career by attaining the Certified Professional Organizer® designation.  I also attend annual conferences, and I’m very exciting to be heading to our next one next month.  I can’t wait to share the latest and greatest with you when I return.

Nope, I don’t have a TV show, but if you need to check out a Certified Professional Organizer® live before you hire one, check me out at the many seminars and low-cost group classes offered year-round, or check out admittedly very low budget organizing videos.

I applaud Amanda LeBlanc for her efforts and her successful business.  If she shows up at the NAPO conference, I’ll gladly buy her a drink to toast her success.  Just watch The Amandas for fun, and don’t let it ruin your real life, okay?


Is it Better To Consign or Donate? The Economics of Purging September 8, 2011

Babies don’t stay babies for long. My babies have grown out of baby bug rattles and what seems like thousands of adorable outfits.  I can’t store them all, so I thought I’d try consignment sales. My clients are often tortured with the idea that by donating their goods, they are somehow losing money.   Is selling at a consignment sale or store, on eBay, or on CraigsList any better? I decided to run the math on my own involvment in a community consignment sale and see how it compares to donation values.

Let’s set aside the emotional distress tied up in pawing through teeny tiny clothes, hand-knitted sweaters and beautiful booties. Look, I’m a professional, and even I did a mini fashion show for my husband as I tagged items for sale. (Aaaaw, remember her in this cute little outfit? It hardly looks worn!)

Let’s examine facts. I had about 250 outfits, shoes, and baby gear that were consignable:  in good shape, no stains or tears, matched in complete outfits, and basically looking like-new.  I signed up to be part of a local one-day consignment sale, but working with a consignment store is similar.

First came the scramble for child-sized hangers. Clothes on hangers tend to sell better. Every dollar spent on prep reduces profit, so I scoured Freecycle and hit up friends and clients, but it was tough coming up with enough extra hangers.  I used adult hangers for many outfits.

Using straight pins to attach sale tags is tough on the buyers. One DollarTree package of safety pins, cost, yep, just one buck. Sale tags were provided by this event host, but some sales require consignors to print tags at home, adding paper and printer ink costs.

Then came the real cost. Little outfits had to be unpacked, put on hangers, steamed or ironed, grouped and priced. I spent at least 10 hours, maybe 15 hours or more.  At minimum wage of $7.25 my “cost” for time spent would have been at least $73 bucks.

Last, I trekked to the sale site for drop off. Loading items and delivering to the sale site took a little more than an hour, so rack up another roughly $10 in opportunity cost and aggravation.

Now comes the fun part. Each sale works a bit differently, so read up on what’s available in your area. This sale gives 60% of the proceeds back to the consignor, which is pretty good.  I opted to volunteer at the sale and earn a higher percentage of the earnings, in my case 75%.  I donated two hours of time for greater profit and an additional shot at end-of-day markdowns.  I scored big, getting an all-wood three-piece play kitchen, which I look forward to repainting “Pottery Barn Pink”, for just $10.

I priced just about every item at $2. Price items to sell, for sure. Remember, folks, pricing something unreasonably high at a consignment sale actually lowers your chance of earning any profit at all. Most people come to these sales for deals and steals, so play along or don’t play.  And really, you’re done with it, so let it go and feel happy it’s getting another life.

  • potential gross = $500
  • potential take = $375 (that’s 75%)
  • potential net (minus my costs) = $292

My results?

  • actual gross = $192
  • actually paid to me =$144
  • actual net (minus my costs) = $61

I’m not surprised that $61 is just about what I spent that day at that very same sale. I received a check two weeks later. Unsold items can be donated by the host, but I picked up mine to take to another sale or perhaps donate for the tax deduction.  That means I dragged home 150 outfits, which was no easy haul back out to the car.  They are still worth another roughly $75 back on my taxes when properly documented.

So was it worth it? About one-third of taxpayers itemize deductions, and we can claim charitable donations on Schedule A. If I had bagged and dropped off those same 250 items at my local Goodwill, I would have been able to assign a thrift value to them of the same $2, and taken the deduction on my taxes next April.  My donation would have reduced my taxable income by the value donated ($500), and reduce my tax bill by roughly $125. (Note: Taxes can be confounding.  Please talk with a tax advisor for specifics.)  Hmmm, that is suspiciously close to my net earnings on this sale, but without the time that I spent preparing, dropping off and collecting my unsold items, and volunteering at the event. Click here for one guide to donation values.

So should you or shouldn’t you?  If you enjoy consignment sales, if you could use the cash more than the time, or if you have some trendy, high-quality items that you know people are willing to pay top dollar for, then go the consignment route. I appreciate it, because I’ll probably be buying your stash.  Watch out for emotion, though, since the longer you wait to consign, the less likely your stuff will be current and desirable. If, however, time is more valuable to you, then donate your goods to a charity like Goodwill or any local charity that will provide a receipt for tax purposes, knowing that the financial outcome to your bottom line will likely be about the same.


Women Require More Clothes June 11, 2011

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:24 pm
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While presenting at a corporate event this week, I had a fun discussion with one of the male participants.  I don’t get as many chances to hang with the guys as the women in my practice, so I welcomed his change of perspective. 

He posed a great question to me: What is the right ratio of HER clothes to HIS clothes? 

Well, remember, there are very few “right” answers about anything in this world, and even fewer right answers when it comes to the sexes.  But I did gently explain to him that, despite my best attempts, I know from personal experience that it is not possible for me to simplify my wardrobe to the point that my husband has.  Three factors play into this:

1.  Women have dresses and skirts as options.  This fact alone means that I am likely to have more garments than my dear husband.

2.  I believe that American cultural norms drive women to be more fashion conscious than men, which leads to more color combinations, accessories, and turnover in the wardrobe.

3.  Men can get away with wearing the same or nearly the same dark pants every single day to the office, and no one thinks about it.  If a woman tries that, she’s probably making a fashion statement.  Women are more likely to compliment each other on our outfits, and so we generally are taught to try not to repeat our outfits too often.

This gentleman at the conference admitted that he was after garment equality, wanting his wife to have a less crowded closet that looked more like his side of the closet.  Give it up, was my advice to him.

If you are really interested in closet parity, check out these simplifying trends to see if they will work for you.  But like any type of diet, don’t try to impose this on your mate if you want to stay happily married:


15:30 wardrobe diet

Research others by searching “wardrobe diet”.

What I’m really interested in is what ratio you think you currently have compared to your boyfriend or spouse?  Me, I probably have 3x the clothes my hubby has on the racks, but maybe only 2x the shoes.  I’m guessing I’m running at about the national average, but I’d love for you to comment on this.