Interview with Caroline Warren, Clutter Whisperer

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Caroline Warren

In my latest interview, I’m pleased to introduce Caroline Warren of Clutter Whisperers/CW Organizing Solutions, a member of Blogging Organizers and contributor to the Productivity & Organizing Blog Carnival.

Clutter Whisperers offers residential organizing in the Northern Virginia / Metro Washington D.C. area.

Welcome, Caroline! We’re happy to learn about you and your business. To start with, please tell us how you came up with your business name.

My approach is non-judgmental, and I strive to help the client feel good about themselves through the process, even when they didn’t because of their clutter problem at the outset. So I thought a “whisperer” was quietly effective, rather than a bigger, bolder, in your face approach which can scare people off.

How do you approach a new organizing project?

First, I ask the client to do a free 30-minute ZOOM consult. This tells me a lot about their situation, location, and helps both of determine if this is a good fit.

We then establish goals and priorities, deciding what to tackle first and what success looks like to them. I send a letter of agreement, which outlines what they can expect from me, my policies, and what I will need from them.

The evaluation step sometimes is a separate session and sometimes done in the first meeting. I analyze what sorts of organizing products they may need, taking into consideration their budget (Dollar Tree or Container Store?), measure spaces, and make recommendations for purchase.

Then we start organizing, decluttering, and creating a serene, orderly environment where they can happily live and thrive.

What’s your favorite organizing product?

Oh, there are so many! I think my favorite is the SockDock – an ingenious invention to easily keep socks together in pairs.

How has your business changed since you first started out?

Now I know a lot more about digital marketing! And website development!

I have a marketing background but it wasn’t digital, and there was a long learning curve that I think I’m finally coming out of.

I’m more focused now with what my target customer is and isn’t, and have defined the niche where I want to concentrate. For example, I decided that I didn’t want to work with hoarders after a few initial efforts. I feel like those folks need specially trained organizers who know the psychological techniques of dealing with, and helping, this populations. I regularly refer potential hoarding clients to some of my colleagues who are specialists in the field.

My onsite social media presence has significantly expanded, and I’ve published over 60 blog posts. I continue to learn new techniques on building this area up.

At what moment did you consider yourself successful?

About a year ago, I was getting so many requests for help that I needed to consider expanding. I have a few organizers who I tap for larger jobs, and I needed to decide if I wanted to go all in and develop a larger team. It was a great problem to have!

Definitely! What did you decide?

After considering all the pros and cons I decided to keep it small.

The pros for going larger were – obviously, making more money; doing more of what I love; helping more people.

The cons were: managing people (I’ve managed whole departments in the past); physical exhaustion (and some hip pain) limitations; spending more time doing admin rather than hands-on work.

As you know, our business can be cyclical – if I end up getting a very large project, I hire additional organizers to help, as a one-off.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about running an organizing business?

How wonderfully helpful and supportive the professional organizing community is! People seem to understand that we’re more colleagues than competitors, and I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from organizing “veterans.”

I also discovered how much I enjoy this work! Much more than I even anticipated! I really love helping people feel more functional and comfortable in their spaces – a satisfied customer just makes me happy!

What is the biggest challenge you currently face in your business?

Google changed it’s algorithms a few times in the last 18 months which resulted in a downturn in my business. I finally hired an SEO specialist who has been amazing, and have now solved the issue (as of a few days ago!).

I’ve also determined that I want to seek additional income streams like affiliate marketing and through publishing guides and checklists, which is a new initiative for me.

Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I’m in the process of developing an organizing guide, with specific checklists for a variety of hot spots (so far, Playroom, Kitchen, Closet, Home Office).

What professional associations or other organizations do you belong to?

NAPO

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Teach ballet class – read books – hang with my husband and friends – do my family’s genealogy.

What else should we know about you?

I’m a former professional ballet dancer (I still teach) and have a background in non-profit marketing and management. I’m married (32 years!!) and have two wonderful kids, twins, who both live abroad. My husband and I both love the beach and hope to move to North Carolina sometime in the near future, as close to the ocean as we can get!

Thank you, Caroline!

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar Seana Turner on May 2, 2024 at 11:58 am

    I think Caroline and I could be good friends. I’m all about getting as close to the ocean as I can get. 🙂

    I agree with Caroline in that finding your niche is very helpful, as is deciding how big you want to get. I made a similar decision about how/when to grow my business. I don’t want to spend all my time doing admin for a team. I like being with the clients.

    I’m happy to say that I have had the same experience with other organizers. The one’s I’ve met through NAPO have been very supportive and collaborative. How wonderful, right?

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 2, 2024 at 2:55 pm

      Deciding to stay small is a big decision. The world pressures us to scale and grow, and that’s just not for everyone. I’ve gone through this myself!

  2. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on May 6, 2024 at 10:25 am

    I love this series, Janet! Good luck to Caroline and her endeavors. While focusing on small solopreneur business owners now, when I started out, I could relate to the cyclical nature of the professional organizing industry. Making staff decisions can be tricky. Keeping it small was my conclusion as well.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 6, 2024 at 2:56 pm

      I think it is hard to niche down in the beginning, when you need all the business you can get! It’s great when you reach the point that you can focus on what you enjoy most and are best at.

  3. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on May 6, 2024 at 11:17 am

    What a joyful interview! I love Caroline’s upbeat personality, her love of helping people, and her focus on her ideal client. It’s always fun learning about our colleagues.

    Thank you for continuing this series, Janet.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 6, 2024 at 2:58 pm

      I love this series – everyone has a unique story and approach to their work. My only regret is not starting it much sooner!

  4. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on May 6, 2024 at 3:47 pm

    I didn’t know Caroline was a ballerina! How fabulous! I am now picturing her pirouetting as she organizes! 😉

    Caroline is so right about how the web has changed, and Google definitely makes it hard for simple organic search to win out. And I couldn’t agree more about the collaborative nature of our industry and our NAPO colleagues.

    Seriously, Janet, I just love this series and especially getting to know colleagues I’ve met or know from POINT and social media, but don’t know personally.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 7, 2024 at 12:49 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear. My thought, when I started the series, was that the information would be helpful to new and aspiring organizers. I’m thrilled that it’s doing even more than intended.

  5. Avatar Janet Schiesl on May 6, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    It’s a wonderful interview and series Janet. So nice to know about our colleagues in my area. All the best to her.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 7, 2024 at 12:50 pm

      There are a lot of you in that area, it seems! I’m happy to provide this platform for connecting colleagues.

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