Welcome to Episode 65: Representation in the Organizing Industry with Dalys Macon
Dalys Macon is joining the Pro Organizer Studio podcast today to talk to us about her efforts to talk about representation in the organizing industry via the Instagram group @blackgirlswhoorganize. She also talks about how she came to be a professional organizer, and how much she loves to do closet organizing with clients and help them find the best colors for them.
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Melissa: Happy to have you here today. We are here with Dalys Macon of divine order. It is so nice to meet you. Thank you for joining us today on the pro organizer studio podcast.
Dalys: Thank you for having me.
Melissa: I would love for you to start out and just tell us a little bit, we love to hear from people about how they got involved in the organizing industry.
Dalys: So I would say my journey started in 2005, really. I first did the class with NAPO. Back then it was just a teleconference call and it was called introduction to professional organizing. And, I had heard about professional organizing by someone. Oh, I, at that time I had read a Julia Morgenstern book organizing from the inside out. And that’s how I kind of learned that it was an industry. It’s a job.
And I looked it up and I took the course and, but I still worked full-time and I was working full-time then my boys were young and I just, it became a little intimidating to me once I learned about all that it entailed, in terms of managing the business of itself. So I kind of put it on hold. But like, the story of many other organizers…
I organized for family and friends for the last 15 years. They would always come to me, especially with closets, because I love colors and I liked fashion. I always liked fashion. And, I finally decided to make it a viable business because as I near retirement of my full-time career, I hope to be done in the next two or three years, I thought what would be the one thing that you would like to do, that you actually enjoy and came right back to organizing.
Melissa: Yeah, well, and so many people come at it from that, “I do it for friends and family and they I’m the person that they come to. So why shouldn’t I do this for other people?” So how did you overcome your fear? We talk about fear a lot with people in our group. Like how did you overcome that fear about “I can’t start my own business.”
Dalys: Some people that follow me on Instagram know I’m a breast cancer survivor. I went through breast cancer treatment, seven years ago. And I think that is your aha moment.
You know, you feel like. You know. Okay. You’re you see your life kind of flash before you, you start looking at life differently. I’m 50 plus, you know, you start looking at what are the things I haven’t accomplished in life or that I think I would like to do. And, I kept on coming back to doing a business of some sort and, I went back and forth with something with fashion. but I’m at the stage in life where as much as I like fashion and I still like to be fashionable. It’s not the same as when you, you were in your twenties and your thirties, where you were so preoccupied with the trends and wanting to have all the trends.
So, I thought, you know what? Organizing stuff. Still I could do organizing. I can do closets and I can still infuse some fashion there. Organizing seemed more viable. And also I think with organizing, you’re helping others. It was a way to give back and to help others. So, you know, I, I often get the question when people ask “what is it like to go clean up somebody else’s mess?”
But beyond that you’re helping them create a lifestyle and you’re freeing them in. That was it. So I just, I have this motto where I say do it afraid, but just do it.
I did it afraid. I’m not, I’m not going to lie. I was very afraid. I didn’t have an Instagram account. I was barely on Facebook.
I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have all the standard things that they say you should do. But I felt if I prolonged to get everything just right, I would have talked myself out of it.
I literally just sent in, the name I had the name 10 years ago and I applied and they still had the name available and I say, yay. And it came in in December, which I suppose is the worst month to. Really launch your business because you’re paying taxes for the whole year anyway. That’s how much I didn’t know, but I launched it December 26 of, 2018, I became official, but it’s because I just did it and that’s when it came in and I said, I’m going to do this.
Melissa: I love that phrase, do it afraid to, because I do think that there are organizers and probably other entrepreneurs, but especially because organizers tend to be very organized people and they want everything in order. And so everything has to be set before you start, but there is absolutely something to be said for just starting and seeing where it goes.
Dalys: Yes. And figuring it out.
Yes. And so, and obviously you figured it out, so you have a successful thriving business and like you said, you get to help people all the time. What kind of community do you serve?
Dalys: it’s probably the 35, and above, I tend to have, I use older like me, but you know, more mature community, women that are established in many instances.
And I think women who were similar to me that you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re comfortable, where you at, and you’re basically trying to maintain. But still accomplish a few things of whether it be to start a new business, whether it be to travel. And this is an opportunity for you to just simplify your life.
At this age of life we’ve accumulated so much because of the years of just getting and buying. So I had a revelation finally, that I was looking at the minimalist thing, and I always said, I would never be a minimalist because I love clothes too much to give a give up all this stuff. But what I learned is that I could curate my closet.
To have things and only keep what I absolutely love and use and quality over quantity. Right?
Dalys: That is basically my, most of the women that come to me are those seeking quantity quality over quantity and are looking for a simplified way of living.
Melissa: The quality over quantity thing, that’s something that I had in my own organizing journey too, because I realized that I bought so many of the $20 things chasing the $80 thing that I ended up spending more money than I would have if I would’ve just bought a higher quality item. That would have lasted me. And it was like this total light bulb moment for me. So I do think that there’s a certain time in our lives that you do reach that point of saying, I want something that’s quality and that’s going to last.
Dalys: Yes. So that, that has been, most of my clients have been ladies who have come to that, understanding that, I’m good where I’m at. I’m going into this next phase and I want to do it in a, in a stylish classy way, but without a whole lot of stuff in a more simplified manner.
Melissa: Well our podcast listeners can’t see. But, if you could see right now, Dalys is wearing, she looks fabulous. She obviously is a very fashionable woman. She’s got this beautiful teal colored shirt on this fabulous necklace. So tell me a little bit, are closets your favorite thing to work on then?
Dalys: Absolutely. And with COVID we’ve all had to do what I call pivot, right?
Dalys: I had everything planned out. And I told the story that I had started organizing and planning my calendar a month at a time. So at the beginning of the month, I would take a Sunday and I would go through all what I was going to post that month and how it was going to go. I was going to do it two times, three times a week in March.
I decided I was going to do a lot on travel because of the travel and packing for travel and what I wear when I travel—then COVID happened. And we were all stuck at home. And so. What in the world? So we had to pivot. So, for me again, I mentioned earlier I do a lot of closets, but my focus, what I offer, what I think I offer differently.
I’m big on color. I am big on color and color analysis. Finding Colors that work for you. seasonal color is big and it’s okay to go outside of those colors, but everyone has some standard colors that work well for them. And I think it’s important to identify that. So outside of just doing the closets, I spend the time with my clients trying to figure out some colors for them and ways that they can use what they keep in a different way.
And I call that shop your closet. So one of the other features that I’m out offer is shop your closet. Because again, we’re saying we took the time to invest and buy all these things and you don’t want to keep investing in multiple things. So for me, I have found that you can take one item and make it look totally different based on the accessories. So I am big on accessories
Melissa: She has the most fabulous accessories.
Dalys: So that, that is the thing for me, is that pushing the envelope a little, taking them out their comfort zone just a little bit, and showing them different ways to wear what they have with just a few key pieces or key accessories.
That’s where I’m going now.
Melissa: So for people that might be listening and saying, Oh, I’ve never really thought about offering my clients additional services, you know, kind of above and beyond the organizing realm. So can you tell us a little bit about how you help people? I know some of it is probably just your expertise, but how do you help people find the right colors for them when they’re in their own closet?
Dalys: So one of the things I always start by asking them is what is your favorite color, And most people will have a favorite color for whatever reason. Also, I always ask, what are some of that? What are some of the compliments or comments that you can recall you, that you get complimented on? There’s that?
Oh, every time I wear that royal blue dress, everybody tells me that’s a nice color. You can always think back to that one outfit you received multiple compliments on. so that then start giving you an idea of where you fall. So in this season if you tend to wear a big, big leading factor is your jewelry.
If you tend to wear silver or feel you look better in silver, then you gravitate more or look better with cool colors. But the goal is the warmer colors. And the two warm seasons are fall and spring. Okay. The two cool seasons are summer and winter. Okay, with winter being the deeper and then the summer, the lighter version.
So in a winter may have a purple and a summer may have a lavender. Okay, so that kind of narrows it. So I start with that, but one of the tests that they can take is just simply using, taking a gold or silver scarf and placing it close to their face. Okay. You can always tell. It’s not that you can’t use both, but there’s generally one that when you place it up to your face, it’s going to look much better.
That right there will narrow your selection.
Melissa: Well, one of the things that you and I were talking about before we started was when you’re working with a client and you can look at their face if they’re looking at something in their closet, or if they’re trying it on and you can just tell immediately how they feel in it too. So feeling comfortable in that wardrobe is so important for your client.
Dalys: Yes, it is. Yes it is. And that is why, even though some clients, when I’m working with them, I make them try on the outfit. If they’re not sure. Rather than just saying, just put it in a pile, I have them try it on and I tell them what I feel may is working for them, or what is not?
Now I have never received any formal training, but my mom was a seamstress. I always grew up around fashion and clothing and lines. So I kind of know that thing is ingrained. My dad was an artist, so the color infusion, and that’s why, it became second nature for me.
Melissa: Well, but I think that for the people that are listening, that it may not be, you know, fashion may not be their area of expertise. I think the important thing is thinking about, Hey, what might I have that’s value added for my clients beyond just organizing, maybe you’re really great in a kitchen. And so you could recommend some new kitchen things to someone, or maybe you’re really good at arranging furniture or whatever.
It’s just thinking about some of those above and beyond things that you can do offer to clients.
Dalys: And one of my largest takeaways, I think this past year and a half for me, it’s easier to pivot and make it, if you have what I call an add on service. So I have met organizers that are stagers or that are stylists, so I, I believe beyond just organizing it benefits you to have an added service.
There are people who are speakers. They provide workshops for times like this.
Melissa: Yeah, I totally agree with you and being flexible. So knowing who your ideal client is and knowing what services you’re good at providing and not providing too many, but being able to provide like some flexibility for you’re exactly right. Helps you. Helps you in that pivot time.
So this year obviously has been a very, monumentally challenging year. Um, I mean, COVID, COVID definitely has, has been a huge thing to deal with, but obviously, one of the biggest things that we’ve had to deal with, especially in the United States is the, George Floyd tragedy, which I live in Minneapolis, so unfortunately that happened in my backyard and, that caused obviously, a huge amount of news this year. And it’s been something that I think it started an extremely important conversation that we’ll need to stretch long beyond 2020. But one of the things that we wanted to talk to you about is an initiative that you have called Black Girls Who Organize.
And we want to talk to you about, representation within the organizing industry and your effort, and also how we can help with that effort. So can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dalys: Yeah. Black Girls Who Organize came about a little bit before black lives matter. I think it made people more aware.
As I told you, I took the first class with NAPO 15 years ago and I always, I would look for magazines, anything dealing with organizing. There are certain magazines that in January of the year they did then, during the national organizing months for years, I have purchased Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping and all those magazines.
And. Fast forward to now 14, 15 years later. I’m opening these magazines and I’m still not seeing a very fair representation. And, there weren’t a lot of women of color that were, are minorities that were represented. I actually recently wrote to a magazine because they did a, they did a publication, say in October, They re-issued it in January. Beautiful magazine. Great tips. I love a lot of the organizers at there. I follow them, but out of all the contributors, they had 15 organizers, not one woman of color or minority. that’s got to change because we’re out here. I know if I’m out here, there are others out here.
Dalys: So what I did is because I live in the Washington, DC Metro area, and I know there were a lot of other black women professional woman here. I set out to try to meet a few that I could just meet with. Interact with them, learn, from their experiences organizing with me coming into it new. And I was amazed at, we met one day for dinner and with the four or five of us speaking, I came away with so much knowledge in an hour and a half, more than I had learned in the whole year that I had been in. And I’ve thought other women need to hear this. And other women need to know that they have a resource.
I know NAPO exists and I think is wonderful. But sometimes the cost is an issue. Everyone can can’t accept it or afford it or the location, or, you know, so for varying reason, so I decided that I wanted to feature these ladies because they were so awesome.
And I thought, okay, I will just feature them on my page once a month. At the time I was, I, and I still do follow a young lady who has a, page called Black Girls Who Blog. And she posts this almost every day, which I know I’m not going into, but I thought, wow, why don’t I do Black Girls Who Organize?
So I set out to do that. And the response has been so overwhelming today. I have over 80 something ladies lined up to feature on this. So I’ve gone from once a week to twice a week. It is my hope that it opens the door for us. Like you say, to begin. So I think it’s a great resource. If you’re looking for some woman of color, you’re looking for some minority, it’s a page that you can go to. And you have a resource. I feature these ladies. It talks about their location, their favorite space to organize some of the things they’re involved in.
And again, thanks for too, because of Black Lives Matter. I think it just catapulted awareness to have other women included. I have since learned of the National Association of Black Professional Organizers, I didn’t know, existed. But, they’re primarily, on Facebook though just now migrating to Instagram.
So because of that, I didn’t know they existed. So I’ve since joined and they have a format more similar to NAPO. But that is also good to know, but mine is not a formal organization. It is just simply that a platform where I could feature and highlight other women of color that are doing some wonderful things.
Melissa: obviously, like we said, this is not going to be a conversation just for 2020, we have realized that this is a conversation that we need to have and things are going to need to change over the next, who knows how many years. But what are, what are the kinds of things that you feel like people can do as allies of this movement and how can we do a better job featuring women of color in the organizing industry or even outside?
Dalys: Well thing one, I think it’s already started to find that you’re interviewing me. I think those sort of things say it’s just the little things, um, reaching out and then having some, featuring some of them on podcasts on shows. I’m starting to see an increase.
They have been several conferences I know like that were recently done where they have a number of black professional and other minorities as guest speakers. Right? So those are the, those are the main things I think, given them face time and not doing it just because we need to check a box, but doing it because we really want to form relationships.
I have met wonderful organizers, that that are not women of color that we have collaborated on projects. We have said, let’s do this workshop together on zoom. Let’s talk about things that we have in common. Cause we all have some commonality. I think that’s the main thing. If they can be involved with media, and just giving an opportunity to showcase their talents is a wonderful thing.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, I think that it’s important for all of us to recognize that we all have a role in making it better and different. And I think having the conversation and being able to have the conversation, I think is a super important thing for all of us and recognizing that we need to overcome and, and really think about that diversity and I, so my background is in corporate America.
And so it’s funny when I started in the organizing industry, I mostly worked in all male industries. And so I would walk in the room in many times in many cases and be the only woman that was there, or maybe one of two or three women that were there. And. So when I came to the organizing industry, I’m like, Oh cool, it’s all women. And so I felt excited by that, right, because that was a different representation than I was used to in my life. But we also have to realize that it’s about representation at many different levels. And that includes, you know, when I think about we’ve got people in the organizing industry that are bilingual. We’ve got people servicing, you know, many different kinds of, of communities and being inclusive about, about all those organizations is important.
Dalys: Absolutely. And you know, I’m bilingual because I’m, I was born and raised in Panama. I speak Spanish fluently as well. So that is another thing I’ve made it a point, even though the name is black Professional organizers, but again, um, I’ve met a few Filipinos and a few others that I also will be featuring there because again, it’s just given an opportunity to, to open a door for other minorities period.
Melissa: We love the work that you’re doing. And, um, is there anything that you have on the horizon that you’re excited about? Anything that you, I mean, other than just kind of getting through 2020, what, does 2021 look like for you?
Dalys: I, I just know that I’m in a good place right now. I think I have finally figured out, you know, when you start the business, you’re trying to look and see what everyone is doing and you’re trying to do what everybody is doing to a certain extent and try I have finally , figure it out. If it was too much, it became overwhelming.
So for me, I’m going to stick with the closets, with the color, a few kitchen pantries. I do well with home offices because I’ve teleworked worked from home for the last four years, so, okay. New normal has been my norm. Sure. So I think I have a really good handle on that. But just again, forming communities, building communities, building relationships. And, my goal is to do more workshops where I’m able to one bridge the gap. do collaborative efforts. But yeah, I am looking more than just going in and organizing a home. I still value that and still love that. But, I think everyone has to have something that they can do virtually as well.
Melissa: For sure.
Dalys: We just don’t know. How things are going to be, so to keep, keep things going and not be at a, at a, at a stalemate point. You know, I it’s important that we do that. So that would be the goal for me, just to continue helping and assisting others, being a resource to many and just bridging the gap wherever I can.
Melissa: So something that you said is something that we talk about, which is, a phrase that I love comparison is the thief of joy. And so, like you said, when you were constantly comparing yourself to other organizers or looking around, sometimes you just have to look inward and say, what am I I good at?
And I’m not going to be able to help clients make their closets more colorful. That is something that you are expert at. It may not be something I’m expert at. For that, but just being able to know what you are good at and the people you serve, I think is awesome.
Dalys: So I say something very similar. I said, comparison breeds discontentment, right?
Melissa: Yeah. Oh, I love that. That’s good to know. Yeah.
Dalys: It breeds discontentment because usually as soon as you start looking at what they have or what they’re doing and you’re not doing, then that’s when you start being. Not content with what you’re doing.
Melissa: we have appreciated having you on the podcast today and where can people find you on the great internet?
Dalys: So for D’Vine Order —@divineorder4U I’m on Instagram, Facebook, and that’s also my website, divineorderforyou.com. And I I’m mostly on Instagram. I dunno, somehow, even though my age group probably says differently in terms of demographics that most will be on Facebook, I just liked the format on Instagram is quick.
It’s easy and it’s done. And so I’m most of my posts and most, most of my, um, data occurs either on, on Instagram and on my website.
Melissa: Wonderful. And we will link to all of your handles, including @blackgirlswhoorganize, this is the other handle. We really want people to be able to go and follow and see what you’re doing there.
Cause you’re doing just great work. So it was lovely meeting you and thank you for bringing somebody color and excitement to our day.
Dalys: Thank you for having me. I greatly appreciate this. I don’t take it lightly.
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