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The Oracle of Organization

Pam Holmes Boyd
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyBrandy McLaughlin is a professional organizer. She helps people clear the clutter from their lives and get themselves organized.
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GYSUM – As we settle into 2006, it’s interesting to note that the second-most popular New Year’s resolution (behind only “to lose weight”) made three short months ago was “to get organized.”

So, how’s that going?Spurred by the popularity of reality television shows such as “Clean Sweep,” Americans are embarking on a quest to clean up their lives. But organizing a closet or pantry or, heaven forbid, an entire home can be overwhelming. Help is on the way.Chaos No Mas is one of the local businesses dedicated to helping people get organized. Owner Brandy McLaughlin launched her operation in 2004. “I have always been a really organized person and I would help my girlfriends organize their closets,” said McLaughlin.Before launching Chaos No Mas in Gypsum, she operated Flying Colors – an equestrian supply and clothing shop in Edwards. It was a good training ground.”You have to be really organized when you own a retail business,” said McLaughlin.But having the neatnik gene and a bit of experience in operating a business didn’t give McLaughlin all the background she needed to open Chaos No Mas. She took a big step toward professionalism when she joined the National Association of Professional Organizers.

NAPO – an Illinois-based organization – is a nonprofit professional association whose members include organizing consultants, speakers, trainers, authors, and manufacturers of organizing products. Founded in 1985, it is the largest national association of and for organizers with more than 3,350 members throughout the world. NAPO’s mission is to develop, lead and promote professional organizers and the organizing industry.”A professional organizer enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring organizing skills. A Professional Organizer also educates the public on organizing solutions and the resulting benefits,” offers the NAPO Web site.



Professional organization is more than helping people tidy up their surroundings. NAPO offers a certification program and produces an annual conference so organizers can get together and share ideas.

Additionally, when Web surfers go to the association site, http://www.napo.net, they are presented with helpful tips and a neatly organized (of course) laundry list of topics ranging from feng shui to estate organization to public speaking. There are even professional organizers who are also counselors certified to work with people who have mental disorders that manifest in hording behaviors.Sloppiness has a costAll this organization work doesn’t come cheap – the average hourly cost for a professional organizer ranges from $45 per hour to $85 per hour depending on the services needed. Sometimes clients will contract for a written assessment where the organizer goes through a home and provides suggestions about where and how to clean up but doesn’t actually do the work.”When I provide a written assess-ment, I come back to see how things went. If your home is being graded, it gives you a reason to get it done,” said McLaughlin.As a professional organizer in Eagle County, McLaughlin has found an interesting niche related to See Organizer, page B24the real estate industry.”I work staging for real estate agents. I clear the clutter so a house shows better,” she says.McLaughlin predicts that within the next five years, a dozen or more professional organizers will be plying their trade in Eagle County. “This is really a growing business nationwide,” she says. And local residents have a particular organizational needs.”We live here because is there is so much to do. The last thing people want to do is stay home and organize,” she says. “But people up here have so many toys.”Toys such as skis, kayaks, snowshoes and all terrain vehicles can rapidly overwhelm living spaces, especially small spaces like apartments.”Here in this valley, the No. 1 thing I do, if people have them, are garages. If they don’t, it’s closet space,” says McLaughlin. Bringing a professional organizer into your home can be a daunting experience, McLaughlin admits. It’s not easy to face your mess and it is even more difficult to let someone else see it. “Every client I work with says how sorry he or she is that something looks terrible,” she continues. “It’s a very personal thing when you walk into someone’s home.”Professional organizing isn’t simply cleaning up. It’s a process where the client is taught how to keep their home or work space in order. For instance, McLaughlin advises clients to store guest bedding and towels in the matching pillowcase so everything is right at hand when a visitor arrives. One of the secrets to an organized closet is to keep seasonal items together and group them according to color. But the most important tip for an organized space is to clear out what you don’t use.”We are such a consumer-oriented society. Everything is about marketing and buying and bringing things into your home,” McLaughlin explains. “But people are not as mindful about cleaning things out.”Vail Colorado


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