Our 2019 detox isn’t to do with food – this year it’s our cupboards and closets that are clamouring for a clear-out. We talk to LA and Nashville-based duo Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin from The Home Edit, who share their top organisational tips.
If you haven’t seen Clea and Joanna’s Instagram feed @thehomeedit, you need to check it out immediately! Breathe deeply and take in the beauty, the form, the colour-coding and the downright chicness of their larders, wardrobes and shelving. It will either give you a much-needed zen moment, or send you in a tailspin about how you could possibly achieve this perfection. But after sitting down and chatting with these two bubbly home organisers, I promptly went online, ordered a tonne of baskets, stuck to their system and re-ordered my pantry. It’s still looking great, two months on.
You both moved to Nashville, Tennessee. How did you guys meet?
Clea: Three years ago a mutual friend suggested we meet – she thought we’d really get on. So we met up for lunch and started the company that very same day. Joanna had an organising company in San Francisco and wanted to restart her business after moving to Nashville and I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to do it together. It was like a blind date and we ended up business partners.
So how did the idea of The Home Edit happen?
Clea: When I say that we went into business that night, I mean we came up with the company’s name, logo and design – we went all in and thought about our goals and what we really wanted to do. Ultimately we had the same answer, which was to elevate the world of organising and make it more of an aesthetic venture, something that was akin to interior design.
How did you get your first client?
Joanna: We offered services to our neighbours and friends. We would give them two or three hours of our time and they ended up using us for multiple projects. We also did some promotional jobs with celebrities in Los Angeles. Growing up there, I knew some famous people, so we offered to do projects for them in exchange for a post on Instagram – that really broke through quickly.
Who were some of those early champions?
What are your top tips for detoxing your wardrobe?
Joanna: Every single person, and I would put myself into this category, is not being honest about what they will never wear again. So, if you really want to be serious, you need to purge – it’s critical. You don’t want to be overly stuffed; you should keep your closet 80% full. You want the flexibility of being able to add things if you want to buy something else. You think that you might fit into that dress again or an old pair of jeans, but you won’t, so just get rid of it. And get rid of the guilt. Sometimes that’s easier said than done…
Joanna: A lot of people have guilt about having spent too much money on something and so they won’t get rid of it, but then you’re doubling down on your mistakes.
Clea: If a piece is sentimental to you, even if you’re not going to wear it again, relocate it to either a different section of the house or higher up in the closet; it doesn’t need to take up a prime space.
Do you help each other out with this, or are you able to detox your own wardrobes?
Clea: I need help from a style perspective, but I don’t need help as far as someone telling me to get rid of something. I am so cut-throat. Joanna doesn’t really care about clothes, but holds onto things she probably shouldn’t keep. And that brings us to our core and what we always ask ourselves and every client – here’s how you make a good decision: do you want the item or do you want the space? Which is more valuable to you?
What are your tips if you don’t have a lot of storage space?
Clea: If you don’t have a lot of space, I would say figure out what is most valuable to you and is there space for it? It goes back to that philosophy: you could cram something in if that’s worth it to you, or say ‘OK, I don’t need three pairs of scissors, I’ll just have one’.
When I look at all your spaces, they are so beautiful and ordered. How can you keep them that way?
Clea: If you use concealed baskets, they will always look good, so you can dump a bunch of snack bars into them and the baskets are all still uniform. The other thing is to have things that are ‘general’ – if you get too specific then people don’t know what to do. So if you just have a dinner bin, anything can go there. If you labelled it rice, then where do you put a can of beans?
I think you feel lighter on your feet from the moment you wake up. An organised space is an organised head, they’re really related
Do your employees also declutter, or do most of them do different things?
Joanna: Most of them do the actual organising. We trained them and they are very good.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve received?
Joanna: So many things, but one was to diversify our income streams.
How did you do that?
Joanna: Well, we have our book coming out in the spring. We have product lines and we have our organising service. One is more of a do-it-yourself approach, where you send us the measurements and we do it online, telling you what to buy for your space and how to put it together, and the other is the bespoke at-home service.
You also launched your own TV show, right?
Joanna: Yes, we launched with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine network. It was amazing, she discovered us on Instagram Stories and asked us to do a show. Reese is incredible. It was a big learning experience doing our job and having a camera there – it was interesting. It’s crazy how many people it takes to make a TV show!
Which entrepreneur do you look up to?
Joanna: My grandfather. He passed away, but he was extremely entrepreneurial his whole life and I always had that bug to have my own business. I sort of have him as my guiding light.
Do you have a famous client that you love working with the most?
Joanna: Mandy Moore is fantastic; we did her pantry. We had so much fun. She has pink dishes and some pink and white accents – her house is stunning. But I don’t think that I could pick only one, as we have so many amazing clients.
Has anyone’s mess ever been too much?
Joanna: No, because usually the people that call us are ready to let go. So there isn’t much that we can’t handle. And there are always at least two of us. For two reasons – for tackling volume, and to bounce ideas off each other.
Has it ever been difficult to deal with people’s hoarding or untidiness?
Joanna: Most people that call us are kind of ready, but it’s still a little scary for people who are battling what to keep and what to get rid of. I would definitely not call ourselves therapists – neither of us are – but there is some level of therapy, I guess, in talking to them and understanding what their hang-ups are, what their reasons for hanging onto things are. We can work through that in an intelligent way.
Have you always been obsessed with home organisation?
Clea: I didn’t know what I was obsessing over or what to call it, but I was bothered when things were messy; I still am to this day, I just can’t feel settled, everything had to be in its place.
Did you learn that behaviour?
Clea: I was raised by my mother, who would never have tolerated any kind of mess. I wasn’t going out and buying drawer organisers as a kid, but everything had to be very neat and orderly and nothing could be junky, I was never an overly sentimental person; I had no problems in letting go of things. I just can’t live with clutter.
What is your ultimate tip for keeping a cupboard tidy?
Clea: If you really want to keep your space orderly, you really have to empty it ALL out, assess it and then put every single piece back. You will find out just how much you care about something. Your shelves need to be wiped down anyway. There’s probably a lot in there that you didn’t need or you didn’t even see; your eyes just glaze over. You have to really commit to the process. Be aware of what you bring in; once you have a system in place it’s a lot easier.
I love that idea of taking everything out! There’s no hiding from it then. What are your favourite storage tricks?
Clea: Oh gosh, there are a trillion different storage tricks. Some are obvious like using a basket, but one thing that’s really helpful if you’re dealing with a tricky space or a top shelf is a turntable. It’s a game changer, it’s the difference between being able to use canned goods and oils and vinegars on a shelf that you would otherwise need a step stool to get up and see.
I noticed the all the turntables on your Instagram and thought ‘This would change my life!’
Clea: Turntables are so much fun!
Joanna: Another good storage trick is having drawer inserts. It helps you think about what this drawer is for, what’s the best way to use it and how much is going to actually fit without it being stuffed?
Clea: The rule to being organised is that everything needs to be contained, regardless of what kind of storage you use. So, if you use a basket, a jar or a bin, it’s important to contain all the moving parts, otherwise there’s no system. You have to have labels and categories, to be able to keep it up.
I love the pretty writing on all of your jars – do you do that yourself?
Joanna: I do all the handwriting and all the labelling; it’s quite annoying but everyone else has terrible handwriting, so this is my lot in life! I’ve turned my handwriting into a font and we’re working on some pre-printed vinyl options to give my poor tired hand a break.
If you really want to keep your space orderly, you really have to empty it ALL out, assess it and then put every single piece back… You have to commit to the process
Are some people harder to organise than others?
Clea: Some spaces are trickier and some people have a harder time getting rid of things. Any space can be organised – it’s a matter of having the right proportion of items and space, making the decisions and committing to the system. We go back to old clients’ houses and knock them out of the way to go check the space – the systems are still there! Every jar might not be lined up, but it’s really good.
What advice do you give to those people on how to let go of all the stuff?
Joanna: Stop feeling guilty! Also don’t think about your whole house.
Clea: Think about one small space at a time; maybe it’s a cupboard or a closet or laundry room. Then have a bag ready to donate or for trash. Things go right into the bag. If you just put them aside, you’re never going to do it.
How do you manage your children’s stuff? Every time my child has a birthday, or it’s Christmas, there’s a mountain of incoming stuff…
Clea: I purge all the time with them, every week. It’s something you have to assist them with. And every time you have something coming up, a birthday or Christmas or something like that, do a purge and donate those gifts, because there are so many kids who don’t get Christmas presents. If they want new things then they have to let go of some of things they have. You have to teach them young.
How does an organised space make you feel?
Clea: Lighter on your feet from the moment you wake up, honestly. An organised space is an organised head, I think they are really related.
Do you have your go-to places for favourite items?
Joanna: We organise from a client’s perspective; some people like woven baskets, some like clear storage. It’s really important to match things with the aesthetics of the house, but ultimately, our job is putting in products that work. If a metal basket is going to scratch the shelf or it’s too heavy to pull down, then it’s worthless.
Do you travel abroad?
Joanna: We travel mainly between clients in Nashville and LA, but also all over the country, and we hope to come to the UK soon.
Joanna – what do you like most about working with Clea?
So many things. Clea is unbelievably driven and smart and so funny. Yeah, she’s incredible.
What about you Clea – what would you say about Joanna?
There is nothing that she won’t do, nothing is below her. She won’t complain and she is a hard, hard, hard worker. She puts her head down, sometimes too much because she gets so involved and gets so excited about all the small things. She will not stop until it’s perfect!
What’s the biggest learning curve you’ve experienced in owning your own business?
Joanna: Hiring employees. It’s really difficult.
Clea: We are very lucky that we have seven wonderful employees, but we agonise over every decision.
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