Professional organizer and closet designer – both are professions that aim to help clients declutter and organize their personal spaces, but what are the fundamental differences between the two, and can they benefit each other?
We often think of the closet designer as someone who takes stock of a client's possessions and lifestyle and then designs a tangible, physical system that facilitates the organization of their clothing, shoes, accessories, and more. Professional organizers also take stock of a client's possessions and lifestyle. Still, their approach can differ by encouraging a process for decluttering and purging and designing both an intangible and tangible system of techniques and strategies allowing for lifelong organization.
The advantages of each role are often dependent on the client's specific needs, but there are also benefits of the two teaming up and working together. Instead of an either-or approach, it's an inclusive partnership that provides the client with the best in each area of expertise.
One such closet company that has seen the benefits of working with professional organizers is The Closet Works, located in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. The company now has a dedicated section on its website discussing partnership opportunities and providing case studies of how it works for its clients.
Sal Graci, digital marketing manager for The Closet Works, says they have been working with professional organizers for years. However, more recently, the company started formulating and developing a plan.
“We put it on our website and really started to promote it,” he says. “I would say it’s always been in place even before I joined The Closet Works, but really the last two years is when we started highlighting it.”
Graci says the process can take place in several ways. He described one scenario where the client moved from one home to another and wanted everything organized in the same way in her new home. She was working with Cait Sirianni, owner and Regional Director NE, NEAT Method Philadelphia, who was helping the client pack up ahead of time and making sure everything was organized and could be put back in the same way in the new home. However, the client soon realized that the closet in the new home was not what she needed.
"It wasn't set up right. It didn't obviously have the proper hanging or the proper drawer storage," he explained. "So, Cait teamed up with (our) designer and they said, 'Okay, here's what we need," and our designer gave their suggestions. Once that closet was put together, the design was formulated, and everything was built and installed, Cait came back and said, 'Yeah, this is now how you're going to put it back in your drawers. Here's a process, we're going to put a process in place so every time you put clothes back or laundry back, now you know exactly where they go. Socks go here; shirts go here.' It's not only helping them get organized in the move, but it could also be helping them keep that closet maintained and neat as well."
Sirianni recommended The Closet Works to this client to build out their custom closet. Because she had a good sense of the client's needs, she provided the company's designers with edits and recommendations.
“The designers at The Closet Works are really phenomenal,” Sirianni adds. "Normally, we act more as a liaison to our client in terms of here's what you should be asking for, here's what we recommend, here's what we see that works really well. And then they’re able to have that conversation with the designer to make sure that they’re getting that perfect custom space to fit their needs.”
In other situations, The Closet Works has recommended NEAT Method Philadelphia to their clients. Once a closet has been designed and the clients are ready to unpack the new space, the professional organizer can come, set it up so that it optimizes every inch and functions to meet their needs. Also, final touches like baskets, drawer dividers, or any type of insert can be added.
“So, we’ve connected at all stages in our partnership,” Sirianni says. “It just depends on the client and how much they want both ends to be involved.”
The Closet Works and NEAT Method Philadelphia have been working together for approximately three years. They connected through a prior client who had hired the closet company to build out a full closet. When the client was ready to unpack, she hired NEAT Method, which came in to set up the space.
“We walked into this beautiful, new custom closet,” Sirianni noted. “We were really impressed with the details. So, we reached out and that was the beginning of our partnership.”
When it comes to setting the parameters of a partnership, Graci says The Closet Works will often pre-screen ahead of time. They will talk with the professional organizer and/or company and share what they do. Much of this information is outlined on its professional partnership page — closetworksinc.com/professional-organizers-partnership — where the company outlines how professional organizers can help The Closet Works, ideas for collaboration, case studies and testimonials, as well as an inspiration gallery with accessories, colors, decorative hardware and door and drawer front styles.
“We show them that page ahead of time and say, ‘Here are the benefits to the program. Is this something that you feel could be beneficial to you?’ A lot of times they’ll say, ‘Yes, absolutely. We’ll refer clients to you; you’ll refer clients to us, and we’ll work together.’”
When it comes to commissions on the referrals, that is often on a case-by-case basis, Graci says.
Some organizers may request a 10 percent commission, others will say “No, we’ll just work on the honor system. If you recommend me, I’ll recommend you.”
This partnership has worked well for The Closet Works Inc. and the NEAT Method, allowing both companies to build their brand exposure and expand their customer base.
For more information on The Closet Works Inc., visit closetworksinc.com and for more on NEAT Method Philadelphia, visit neatmethod.com/pages/philadelphia.