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Consumers turn to professional organizers

Industry experts say business is growing as life becomes more complicated

A desk before being organized by Catherine Dryden, professional organizer of Neat Chic Organizing. Submitted photo.

A desk before being organized by Catherine Dryden, professional organizer of Neat Chic Organizing. Submitted photo.

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A desk after being organized by Catherine Dryden, professional organizer of Neat Chic Organizing.

— Debreen Oliva of Saratoga recalls organizing a friend’s closet when she still a kid on a sleepover. Fast forward a few decades and you’ll find she’s still reigning in unruly objects of all types.

“I guess I’ve always had that organizing gene,” said Oliva, who is a professional organizer and owner of d.o. organizing. She’s also a teacher of family and consumer sciences in the East Greenbush Central School District.

Oliva is one of 4,000 members in the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). There are about 30 chapters in the country. Locally, she belongs to SOS, or Saratoga Organizers and Stagers, along with about a dozen other organizers who meet once a month and discuss topics relative to the industry.

“The industry is growing because of the need for organizing services,” said Mary Dykstra, member director for NAPO based in Mount Laurel, N.J. “Too much stuff, too much information, too many activities, downsizing of businesses and more to do in less time are not going away.”

Dykstra added that from 2003 to 2009 the organization witnessed a doubling of its membership, which she attributed to the popularity of shows like “Hoarders” and “Mission Organization”.

According to Dykstra, the greatest concentration of organizers has historically been on the west coast in areas like San Diego and on the east coast around Boston, though she said that trend is shifting.

“Now we are seeing the middle of the country fill in,” she said.

Oliva said her business has increased in the last few years and on average she has about 10 clients at any given time. She’s developed a three-step process to organizing, the first being “digging out” from material objects.

“For some it can be really overwhelming,” she said. “To better serve clients, I have created a team approach to organizing. I work with organizing assistants and sometimes a clutter counselor.”

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