Hi everyone! I’m super excited to introduce you to my newest summer series called Summer Organizer Spotlight. Throughout July and August I will be introducing you to various Professional Organizers from around the world. Many of them I’ve gotten to know online over my many years of blogging and thrilled to call them friends. I will be asking each of them the exact same 10 questions and I think it will be so fun to see the variety of answers they provide. You will also find many solid nuggets of organizing gold sprinkled throughout that will hopefully be helpful to you on your own organizational journeys.
My very first Professional Organizer to be featured is Margarita Ibbott, another Canadian gal and someone I had the pleasure of meeting in real life at a Professional Organizers of Canada Conference a few years back. She is delightful and down to earth and was so so much fun to pal around with. Enjoy!
Name: Margarita Ibbott
Business Name: Downshifting – Professional Organizing Solutions
Location: London, ON, Canada
Number of Years in Business: 7 years
Oh… that is hard to say: Chapter Chair? Speaking at the POC conference twice (hopefully a third time this fall!); Meeting Hellen, Peter, Julie, Geralin…The Org Junkie (that alone was a life-changing event …seriously, not kidding about that).
Could it have been, being contacted by an A&E’s Hoarders producer a few years ago…Going to see Oprah twice to be a live Blogger for her first season of Life Class?
No, I think for me, being asked to sit on the Ask the Expert Organizer Panel – at the 2010 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference in San Diego may be the highlight of my professional career. Why? Because I got to represent my country as one of the ‘international’ panelists, because I was able to address the entire conference and help them understand the importance of using social media, because it was an acknowledgement at a national association that I am an expert in my field…Yes, being acknowledge by your peers is an honour on so many levels – so that would be my career highlight to date.
What is your favorite space to organize? Why?
The Kitchen… I don’t really know why but I think it’s because I’m a ‘foodie’ at heart and love all things about the kitchen…although, truth be known, I am not a great cook! A close second would have to be a playroom or maybe a clothes closet…oh…a toss-up yet again!
What is one of your favorite organizing products? Why?
I tend to use a lot of storage containers with covers. I like to be able to create a uniform look in a clothes closet, I like them to be esthetically pleasing and easy to use. Mostly, I would use cloth/fabric containers that I can colour co-ordinate with the room so that it looks fabulous! One of my favourites is any container from Reisenthal.
What do you find is the toughest part about being an organizer?
I think the toughest part is when you have hit the ‘crazy chaos’ and you know everything is all over the place and it looks like you’ve made more of a mess then cleared the mess. It is at this critical point that your client has to trust you… they must trust you to know that there will be calm…after the storm. Sometimes…just sometimes…your client feels overwhelmed in the chaos and it’s hard telling them that it WILL be better.
Do you think you were born with the organizing gene or have you developed the skills over time?
Nope, I definitely was not born with the ‘organizer’ gene. I came to the profession because I had a very busy lifestyle and I needed routines, schedules and systems to keep me on the straight & narrow. So my love of working with people, and giving them my un-bias opinion, was the perfect fit for becoming a professional organizer!
What area of your own home do you find the most difficult to keep on top of?
I have to admit, my office is THE most challenged area in my house. Everything else is very well under control but there are always small piles of papers sitting on my desk….there I said it….it felt the same as ripping off a band-aide really quickly….OUCH. But alas…it is the truth.
What do you have a collection of? How do you display/organize it?
I have a collection of Emile Henry – cookware/bakeware. I got my first piece when I turned 30 and I now have over 44 pieces. I love the colours & that it matches my daily dishes (yes, I planned it that way). Here is a blog post about my obsession: http://downshiftingpos.blogspot.ca/2011/09/emile-henry-my-beautiful-french.html
How would your mom describe your room as a kid (in terms of organization)?
I would be a typical teenager: lots of clothes, lots of make-up, shoes & stuffed animals. And you would have found some or all of those on the floor, on top of the bed or stacked on my chair. I WAS NOT THAT ORGANIZED.
Do you have an organizing mantra for yourself and your clients?
“Do you need it? Want it? Or Have to have it? Ask yourself these three questions EVERY SINGLE TIME you purchase anything for yourself, your home or your family.“ You will be surprised how often our purchases are really WANTS and not NEEDS.
In a few sentences, can you tell us what your approach is for taking clients from overwhelmed to organized?
I always ask my clients to describe in three words what they want from the space that we are trying to organize. Once they have defined the space with those three words, I will refer back, throughout our session, to those 3 words so that they remember. Most visions are about serenity, calmness and happiness. Bringing them back to that place helps them see the end goal.
What is one thing you want others to know about working with a Professional Organizer?
When you are working with a professional organizer, you are working with someone that understands why you are having problems with clutter. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about you and how you deal with the stuff.
Someone recently described me in a magazine article as a ‘clutter therapist’. I thought it was funny but the way she explained it, as a professional organizer, you are really helping people heal and sometimes you are just that, a therapist. You hear the excuses, the blame, the challenges and the failures of trying and staying organized. You listen without judgment and every once in a while, you will give them a hug – because they really need one!
Lastly, I always say to any potential clients, working with a professional is just that, working with someone that is a professional no matter what!
Finally, before and after pictures are so motivating. Could you share an example of your work with us?