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Minisode 2: Advice from an Inspired Organizer®, Carly Adams of Tidy Revival

Feb 10

Jen and Melissa are starting a new feature on the Pro Organizer Studio Podcast–shorter “minisodes” where we tackle a business topic that we are passionate about, but keep it short enough for a quick couple of errands in your car! Welcome to Minisode 2!

carly adams

Carly Adams is one of the mentors of the Inspired Organizer® program, and after four years leading a successful professional organizing business in California, she has plenty of wisdom to share with other organizers. Carly talks to us about how she works with organizing clients, what she brings to a client relationship, how she learned what her true north was for organizing–and we talk about how we will never go back to working for someone else! 

If you are considering starting or growing a professional organizing business, we have a brand new for 2021, totally free workshop you can take that goes beyond this podcast–you can register here if you want to check it out!

Links for listeners:

Carly can be found at her website and on Instagram.

Carly is offering a free workshop for people interested in organizing their homes. It can be found here:

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Advice from Inspired Organizer® Carly Adams

Jen Obermeier: You’re listening to the Pro Organizer Studio podcast with Melissa Klug and Jen Obermeier. Thank you so much for joining in our mission is to broaden the horizons of savvy business women in the organizing industry by instilling confidence and inspiring authenticity. You’ll gain new insight into strategies designed specifically for professional organizers.

So now let’s get started. 

Melissa Klug: It’s Melissa. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Carly Adams, who is a professional organizer in Sacramento, and I was interviewing Carly as a part of a brand new course we are launching, which is Pro Organizer Studio: Organizing Essentials. And the conversation with Carly was so great. She had such great wisdom to share whether you are just starting your organizing business, whether you’ve been at it for a while, or you’re just dreaming about starting—that we wanted to bring it to you as a minisode of the podcast.  This is a part of our larger conversation, and I can’t wait for you guys to hear all of it, but at least for today, I wanted to give you the wisdom she has to offer.  Here is Carly. I hope you enjoy it.

Melissa Klug: So Carly is one of our mentors in our Inspired Organizer® program. And I am going to let Carly introduce herself and tell all about her journey into professional organizing. 

Carly Adams: Thank you so much for having me.  My name is Carly Adams and I’m the owner of Tidy Revival. I’m based in Sacramento, California and I opened my business in the fall of 2017. I was doing the standard in-person organizing up until the pandemic started at the beginning of 2020. And from then on, I took a hard pivot into working in the online space,  working with clients one-on-one through virtual organizing and then starting a course as well. So I’m an online course creator. 

Melissa Klug: I know a lot of people think like, well, you have to organize in person. That’s the only way to do it. And I know you and I have both gone to online organizing pretty seamlessly. So can you just tell people a little bit about what does that look like for you and how have you still been able to work with clients during this time?

Carly Adams: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely not something that’s for everyone. I have made plenty of referrals during this time to people who really do want to have a hands-on experience. And I tell everybody, you know, that’s fine. Whatever’s going to work best for you. I’ll walk them through the process of what I do and we can decide together if that works for them, but that’s the same as it would be with any in-person potential client as well, because sometimes you’re not the best, but, you know .

Melissa Klug: I  think that’s a really good lesson to talk about I know it took me a while to realize that I may not be the right organizer for every person, and that’s not a statement about me personally. Like it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means maybe they need someone a little bit different to fit them 

Carly Adams: a hundred percent. And I think it’s great to know where your strengths are. And  it’s great to be networking in your area so that you know where your colleague’s strengths are, because if you’re able to find somebody where you can send referrals each other’s way based on what the needs are of a client that’s always fantastic.

A couple of things that I think about, like I’ve had people who are specifically looking for a closet designer, Yeah. I talked to them about what I do, which is refer them to closet design companies. And I work with clients to figure out how they need to prioritize their closet design so that when they meet with a designer, they’re asking the questions that are going to help them utilize their space best.

And we can figure that out through decluttering, but. Some people don’t want that. Some people want to work with one person who is going to actually take care of the design process. And I am not that person. Only because I don’t want to go through the process myself of learning the ins and outs of closet design which I think is fine. It’s always, it’s fine. So I refer those people out. 

Melissa Klug: And, and I think that knowing what you’re good at and knowing what you want to do, versus I know that I, at the very beginning tried to be everything to everyone. And when you do that, you realize like it’s actually not fair to you, and it’s not fair to your client because if I’m not a closet designer and they really want a beautifully designed closet, even if I try to do that for them, It may not be the best result for them and it’s going to drive me crazy and that’s not good for anybody.

Carly Adams: It’s better to pair them up with somebody who fits that niche and knows that specialty in and out. Whereas when you’re first getting started, you don’t know what you don’t know. And even a slight foray into learning the ins and outs of closet design has made me realize that I definitely don’t know what I don’t know.

And I’m going to leave that to somebody else. 

But I wanted to talk about something else that you mentioned about knowing when you’re not the right fit for a client. It’s happened to me a couple of times, too, where specifically with clients who are decluttering clients, we’ve realized part way through the process that they weren’t actually ready to make the change that was needed in order to make a change.

And that’s hard. That’s been the hardest one I’ve had. It’s only happened to me, I think twice. And I’ve issued partial refunds because of it.  It was a couple of times where they realized that actually they’re not ready to make decisions. They’re not ready to part with things they’re not ready to make that change.

And they know that in order to make a difference in their lifestyle and their home environment. They do have to, there’s no shortcut. You have to make all those decisions and work to push through it. And you can be as gentle as you want. There’s always that fine balance, right. And the fine line that you’re walking between being so pushy that you send somebody over the edge to being pushy enough, that you’re actually implementing change.

But even that, and I, in like looking back specifically with those clients and at the beginning being like, is this me , what could I have done differently? I, really stand by it and I, this isn’t, I’m not trying to like be ego-driven here, but I really think that I was doing my best to walk that line with them, but they just, they weren’t ready.

They weren’t ready to, to go for it. And that happens too. 

Melissa Klug: Well, and I think that that brings up an important point that some clients just want you to make all of their existing things look better and be a little bit more organized as it is, right? Like they want , the home edit pantry or whatever that looks like.

There are some clients that really come to you and say, I have too many things , there’s just stuff on every surface. I don’t know where to go. And what you’re talking about is that process. Can be very challenging for people that it can be very emotional for people and it can be a very stressful situation.

And so when you’re talking about is a client ready?  I know you’ve had these two times, but do you have clients who are like, yes, let’s go and they are emotionally ready or do you have to kind of bring them to that place where they’re emotionally ready or a little bit of both? 

Carly Adams: I think a little bit of both. So going back to what you’re talking about,  having some clients want everything to just look right. I think something I realized a couple of years in is that although those projects can be fun. Those aren’t the clients that I personally. Want to focus on, which is why I’ve chosen to focus specifically on decluttering. Like I want to work with people who have too much stuff and are ready to make a change in their home. Because if somebody’s coming to us and they have closets that are bursting and their drawers are completely full and their countertops have piles of stuff, you can’t magically make that into a home edit situation.

There has to be a change that happens.  But that falls under setting up expectations on the front end. You can’t tell a client who’s in that situation. Like you got this, like you just leave for an hour and I’ll make everything perfect.

It’s not, it’s not gonna happen. But the clients that I have loved are in that situation and are like, something’s got to give I’m ready. Things need to change around here and then going through and seeing those changes . Seeing families that haven’t had people over because they were embarrassed.  And didn’t want people to even see the living room to having a clear dining table and inviting people over for a dinner party. And they haven’t had one in five years, 

Melissa Klug: even just having family dinner with their own family, right?

Carly Adams: Yes. Yes. Sitting down at the table versus somewhere, you know, having kids sleep in their own rooms again. Because their rooms got completely cluttered. And then at some point, like maybe the kid didn’t want to sleep there. And then at some point, like it just kind of became the junk room, like their kid’s room.

And then the kids sleeping with the parents every night, suddenly it’s been two years and they’re like, what are we doing here? 

Like that’s amazing. Or. Or even I’ve seen like marital beds that have gotten so cluttered where one person is out of the bed and one person’s in sleeping with a pile of clothes, like bringing together a married couple that actually wants to sleep in the same bed, but that’s everything. So, yeah, that’s, that’s what I want to do.

Melissa Klug: The thing that I try to explain to people and you don’t understand, unless you do it  the power that we have through being able to do what we do and bring those things to people like bring those gifts to people. It  indescribable that happiness that you get when you’re able to bring that to someone.

And it’s huge, huge, meaningful change. 

Carly Adams: Yes. Yes. It’s. And it’s, it’s. Deeply satisfying in a way that has [00:10:00] been unlike any other role I’ve ever had. 

I look, I don’t want to get a regular job. 

Melissa Klug: No, me neither. No, totally same. It’s just , like as I talk about it, I’m like, this is the best job ever.

Carly Adams: the best job.

Melissa Klug: So glad you guys have decided to come and join us. 

So, what is some advice that you wish you would’ve known when you first started or advice that you give people that are interested in going into this industry?

Carly Adams: I would say to trust your gut. I think that, especially when you’re new, it’s easy to let the mean girl in your head tell you that you don’t have what it takes, but you’re here for a reason you’re drawn to this for a reason. So even though it might seem like, okay, that’s too, that’s too simple. That can’t possibly be the solution. The simple solution that you’re thinking of is the solution.

Yep. And another thing is when you first enter a space, Don’t worry about having the answers. Even if a client is like, what do I do with this space? Feel free to take a breath and just say, I’m not, I don’t have, I have some ideas. Actually. That’s a line I use all the time. I have some ideas, but let’s see what, how, how it shakes out with decluttering and then we’ll figure out the solution.

And you always will. The solution is clear once you declutter. Don’t worry about it before then, because.  It will become clear. And the simplest solution is the best one because it’s the one that, that family can keep up with. 

Melissa Klug: That is awesome. Awesome advice. Sometimes I just stand and I look at a space and I’ll just say that I’m just, I’m just quietly thinking it.

Carly Adams: Okay.

Melissa Klug: And then when I’m going, like, all right, what are we going to do here? But you’re right. It always, the solution always comes. It really does. I’ve never had a space where I’m like, I have no idea what we’re going to do, 

Carly Adams:  like a beautiful mind, but I’ve, I have said that to people too. I’m like, I’m just. Don’t mind me. I’m just thinking, 

Melissa Klug: yes, I get that exact same thing. And then just makes them think that I’m like really going through all the potential ideas that I have ever had in my entire organizing career. 

Carly Adams: Yes you are. Yes. But, but really you’re drawing on like, what is the thing that’s just going to be like the easiest thing for everyone to keep up with an access.

Yes, that’s the right answer. I can’t tell you how many solutions I tried to like over-complicate when I first started, because I thought it wasn’t good enough. Like if I didn’t blow their mind as being the most original thing they’ve ever seen, then it wasn’t good enough, but that’s not the answer.

Simplify it always. 

Melissa Klug: So let’s just talk for a brief moment about , are there any downsides , tell us about like maybe what you didn’t know when you first started about  some of the things that would be hard or some of the things that, you know, you kind of weren’t prepared for?

Carly Adams: I didn’t realize how much our job was very similar to being a therapist and sometimes a marriage counselor. Yes. And sometimes a couples counselor. Yes. And I, you have to be very, you have to be very diplomatic, especially when the clients are bickering at each other. You have to know when to say guys, guys, I’m going to give you five or like, maybe let’s take a break or I’m just going to go.

Yeah. And I’ll be back in a few minutes. And just to let people know, like, actually this is uncomfortable what’s happening right now is not cool in a very soft way. Or knowing when to give a client five minutes when to give a client a tissue, when to give a client a hug, when to not give a client a hug, just all of the emotions that come up.

With digging up a lot of things that people have been pushing down maybe [00:14:00] mentally and physically for so long, and then you’re drudging it up. So all the feelings are coming up and it’s hard. It’s hard to have people walk through that, but it’s also amazing to help people process some of those things.

And. To let go. Of some of those things like clients who have, you know, a bunch of photos of an ex that was terrible to them. And knowing when you can encourage someone and say like, you have nothing but bad things to say about this time in your life. This was very painful for you. If you keep this, you’re just going to be digging up those memories in another three years, five years, seven years, is that like, Do you want that you can, but why like, why let’s move on and to positive things and giving people permission , just to let go of the BS and to have a happier life with less like  that is what makes my heart so happy, but I don’t think that I really put together in the very beginning. That that’s what it was going to be. I really thought it was going to be more about Pinterest. Perfect pantries. 

Melissa Klug: We did a podcast with a guest the other day and she’s actually a psychologist. And what we were talking about, as I said, what I didn’t understand was this job is 90% therapy and 10% putting stuff in bags to take. And that’s like a little bit of an exaggeration, but  it’s a cool process to watch though, if that is something that feels good to you.

Carly Adams: So yeah. Yeah. And if it doesn’t then know that about yourself and do not focus on specifically de-cluttering yes, 

Melissa Klug: no. And that’s, that’s a really great point to really talk about learning what you like in organizing. And again, you can be super specialty. You can say [00:16:00] I’m only doing closets, or I’m only doing kitchens, or I’m only doing people who want to do their entire houses from top to bottom.

You know, you can niche down. As far as you want to go and do exactly what you want to do in this industry, which is really cool.  

Carly Adams: but I also do tell newer organizers, like I know it came up in that group recently. Don’t feel like you have to niche down and like the first month or two year in business, 

Melissa Klug: try a lot of things out.

Carly Adams: Yeah. Cause you’ll know, you’ll know when it’s time to go narrow. And I, I personally was really nervous about.  Bringing things in and narrowing down at all, because I was afraid about how much I would lose, but I think that it it really frees you up to be very specific about your messaging and very specific about who you’re talking to.

And there may be a lot of people that you’re not a right fit for, but the people that you are a right fit for, you’re going to resonate with them so much more. Because that messaging is , so clear. 

Melissa Klug: And trying a lot of things out to determine what feels good to you and what speaks to other people. Like don’t be afraid to try things, but also don’t be afraid to say, this is not my jam.

Like a true hoarder house may not be your jam, or it may be like, Oh my gosh, this is, this is like such an awesome project for me. You know? Like we’re all so different in what we want to do. And it’s okay to try a bunch of things out to figure that out for yourself. 

Carly Adams: A hundred percent. Yeah. 

Melissa Klug: Okay. So give us some more gems. What are some other things that you would tell people if they are just starting out in the business?

Carly Adams: Join IO. 

Melissa Klug: Okay. Join inspired organizer. Uh, tell us a little bit more.

Carly Adams: No, that really is the one of the first things I tell brand new organizers. I’m like, if you think that I did this on my own, you’re out of your mind. I absolutely didn’t. And. I joined IO the March after I started, like I launched in November and then , bought it in like February, but I had something big coming up and then like, started it in March.

I wish that I’d started IO . The July before, when I was starting to like really mentally put my business together only because, and I’m really not trying to make this sound like an infomercial. This is legit. The information I give people, it’s just that it gave me the complete blueprint on what to do as a business woman, where I had no experience in that.

It, it really. Was so helpful that I could just lay my business foundation on that, especially for the first year. And then after that, I was like, okay, what’s working.

What, is maybe like gray, but I want to do things a little bit differently. And then you can find your way from there. Plus the community is like hands down. I’m a super fan.  That’s why I’m a mentor in it is because I love it. So that’s that. And then also I would say. Network with people.

I think it’s really it’s tough in the beginning, especially if you’re not used to networking, but even if you’re watching this while people are still at home, for the most part, I think that there’s something still super fun and reaching out to people and saying, you know, let’s have a virtual coffee  let’s just meet over zoom and chat for 30 minutes and get to know each other.

And I think, Don’t take for granted the resources that are available to you locally. I’m part of a group called the national at the national level. It’s called the rising tide society and they have smaller chapters called Tuesdays together.  It’s an organization that brings together like creative professionals and it’s been really fun. There’s not a ton of organizers in that group. I also  network with local organizers in my area, some of which are in IO, most of which are not.

And then there’s an organization called creative mornings. That’s really great too. And that’s in most. Cities worldwide. And I love them as well.  I think that that’s what I would start with is like getting to know people in your community because you never really know who your referral partners are going to be.

Melissa Klug: Yeah, I think too, that people might be listening to this and going like, well, why would I network with other people that do exactly what I do and might be trying to take my business like competing against me. Right. And the organizing industry is not really like that.  It’s really interesting to me that people in general tend to be, even if you’re in the exact same area, someone like it tends to be a really nice industry where people are trying to lift each other up and give people ideas on how to get clients.

And there are plenty of clients out there for. All of us. So even in the virtual world,  there are plenty of people that we can help. And so we’re not competing against each other. And  I’m always just a big believer that you’ll get paid back at some point, you know, that kindness will get repaid back to you at some point, and it really is a pay it forward kind of thing. So 

Carly Adams: a hundred percent. 

Melissa Klug: So you never want to go back to a different kind of job ever again.

Carly Adams: I, my whole goal is to never go back to another job ever again, 

Melissa Klug: Same here, sister. So we are, we are aligned.  I cannot think of a better note to end on. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you for your wisdom. We really appreciate it. And we can find you online. 

Carly Adams: Yes, I’m at tidy or Instagram at tidy revival. 

Melissa Klug: All right, we’ll see you on the internet. Thank you, Carly.

Thank you. 

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Thank you so much for listening into the pro organizer studio podcast. If you’d like to get our roadmap for success as a pro organizer, head straight to

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Photos of jen by ANGELA ZION