Green By Design Episode 208: Green Organizing with Julie Naylon
Professional organizer Julie Naylon of No Wire Hangers shares some of the systems she uses to help her clients be more mindful of their consumption and clutter and help them live tidier, more organized lives. If you (or your clients) have a bag of clothes shoved in your closet that was supposed to go to the donation center 6 years ago, this is the episode for you.
Erica Reiner (00:06):
Hello, and welcome to green by design. This is your host, Erica Reiner from eco method interiors. And today I have the pleasure of being joined by Julie Naylon of no wire hangers. Thank you so much for your time today, Julie, and thank you for being here.
Julie Naylon (00:24):
Thanks for having me. Absolutely.
Erica Reiner (00:25):
Now I'm going to tell you guys a little bit about Julie right before we pop in. So Julie has had a passion for organization and the environment since she was a child growing up in the suburbs outside of Detroit, Michigan, her mother had a gift for organizing and with her guidance, Julie soon found that she preferred categorizing the toys in her toy box to playing with them. So she was actually in the past in the film and television world and between projects between those two things, she started organizing her colleagues homes and built her business out of that passion. So she has been around, let's see, since for a few years now, I don't think I have a start date. I saw a date 2014, but that was actually when, just when she appeared on the Conan O'Brien show, she says, she's been doing this for a bit.
Erica Reiner (01:18):
And she currently resides here with me in Los Angeles. And look is looking forward to helping more people clear the clutter and live a more simplified a lifestyle. So that's a little bit about her and I'm so excited to have her on and get to learn all this good stuff. So again, thank you so much and we can jump right into it. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about that story of how you, you know, kind of started taking your mom's influence and then got asked to do some organizing at work and built your own business out of this?
Julie Naylon (01:53):
Yeah, since I was a kid and I didn't realize it was a skill cause I was born this way, so I just assumed everyone knew how to do this. So when I started doing it for people, they started telling me how good I was at it. That's when I realized, oh, maybe I can make a living out of this. And then I learned more about the industry and realized that, you know, people do actually make a career out of this. So I started in 2008 and went full-time with my business.
Erica Reiner (02:19):
That's an amazing story. So basically you were helping out like your colleagues and bosses as like a, Hey, can you just get this done for me? Everything is so cluttered and like, I need you to go through this.
Julie Naylon (02:32):
Oh, he's been a part of my life. Like when I would go to my friend's house, when I was like eight years old, I would clean their room. Instead of that was, you know, my, my choice. So it was a, you know, it's just always been a part of my life. I just didn't really realize that I could make a career out of it. Right.
Erica Reiner (02:48):
So, okay. So the reason that I found you, we found you and we're so excited to have you on is not just because the world of interior design and organizing is similar in a lot of respects, but because you also have an interest and passion for the environment and that is actually how we found you because you promote that and that's a part of who you are and you're not afraid to share it. So I would love to hear a little bit about that.
Julie Naylon (03:17):
Yeah. I mean, I think it just goes through organizing, you know, the whole buying and consuming and then the purging you know, I didn't want to just come in to people's homes and do this constant, you know, buy, buy, buy, and get rid of an organized. So I really help people focus on what they're buying, you know, where's it coming from? Where is it going to end up? Like, what is the future of this object? So I really try to help my clients focus on that and how to just, you know, live more simply, you know, to help themselves and to help the planet. I love
Erica Reiner (03:47):
That. And that's summarized really well, but I want to dig into that a little bit more. So you, on the day to day come into contact with people who are, have so much stuff have consumed so much that they actually feel overwhelmed by it. It's not just that there's not a label on a bin. It's that there's quite a lot of stuff. And you know, not, not everyone, not every culture is like this, but we live in a culture that is a really consumeristic capitalist based culture for better, for worse. And sometimes things can get out of hand for a lot of people for most people really. And we end up having more stuff than what we need. And I got into, I guess he call it like the, you know, minimalism bandwagon a few years ago. I've always been super into organizing and decluttering.
Erica Reiner (04:42):
And I love that whole thing. I got a chance to speak to a masterful way practitioner recently, and she kind of explained the importance of decluttering on an energetic level and what, why, you know, people get so into it and why it feels so freeing. So that was super interesting for me to learn, but I'd love to dig into a little bit more on your thoughts of, you know, some of the things and patterns you see in people with consumption and how it gets tied up, you know, emotionally and how you are really helping people to not just purge things, but then have a new approach to purchasing or being careful about what they bring in. And for lack of a better word, just kind of like getting in touch with that minimalist or just less [inaudible] style. I
Julie Naylon (05:36):
Think the biggest thing I see in what people are mostly drowning in is paperwork. And I'm completely paperless. We only have two pieces of paper on my house. We don't get any mail that means any unwanted mail. So we stopped all the junk mail from coming in, everything being printed and that she was, you know, is a big help within the house because we just don't have all that stuff cluttering up. And we're able to focus on what we need to focus on that comes in the mail, whether it's medical bills or DMV or whatnot. But it just really helps to, you know, obviously save trees and just cut down on all that paper. And then the recycling you know, people think they're doing their job by recycling, but you know, the first R is reduced. So it's really about stopping that stuff.
Julie Naylon (06:19):
So I'm always looking for ways to help stop things from coming into the house. So I'll really focus on that, whether it's junk mail you know, plastic bags, paper bags, you know, just trying to find ways that people can reuse what they have. Another thing we do too, is just, you know, everybody wants to go shopping and buy bins and that's usually the last stage of the process and working with me because a lot of times I can repurpose what they already have or find new functions for things. So I was like the creative process of that and finding different ways to use items or also then if you need to buy an item, buying an item that has multiple functions so that you don't need so many things. So just always looking for ways to cut down. Yeah,
Erica Reiner (07:03):
Absolutely. What are some of the challenges you have with that and getting people on board or do you, are there at their point or like they could just be at the point where they're like, I'm ready to do whatever you say, but what's that like, is it hard to get people to convert?
Julie Naylon (07:17):
You know, just like anything it's just creating new habits, you know, but once they start doing it, your brain just then it's automatic, you know, you don't even have to think about it anymore. You know, for me, like when I go to the grocery store, I have two bags that I always take in with me. I bring them home and then they sit with my keys and they go back into my car and go back in. So we don't have like a million reusable bags floating around and cluttering up or we can't find one when we need it. So when she set up systems and routines, it's pretty easy to go with.
Erica Reiner (07:48):
So with the purging process, where does the stuff go? Once you're trying to get it out of a client's home,
Julie Naylon (07:56):
That's a great question. And usually, I, I really, I love finding different resources for things. Cause I think it helps people let go. If they know it's going to somebody who really needs it and getting, you know, items to people you know, like I work with a battered women's shelter here in Los Angeles and I worked with a client cleaning out their storage unit and they had all this baby gear and they were not going to have any more children. And I drove it to the women's shelter and a mom moved in the night before with five kids and had nothing. So it went from my car, from my client's storage unit to my car and to this woman's hands. So it's really great. And I think clients are more likely to let go of things if they know it's going to someone who really needs it.
Erica Reiner (08:33):
I can totally understand that from my own personal experience in working with people as well. How did you find those organizations? Were they ones that you just knew about, or as you're, you know, like in this business you just kind of developed a list of good homes that things could get rehomed to.
Julie Naylon (08:52):
Yeah. I mean, I'm always on the lookout for stuff, obviously COVID made it a lot harder. But now there's so many great sites, you know online, the buy, nothing groups, you know so you post an item and then somebody will come pick it up, which is great. So, you know, there's really, there's no excuse there's, you can find people easily now who will come, you know, pick up your things that you no longer need that they really do need. Absolutely.
Erica Reiner (09:16):
That's actually a really hot tip. I always talk about like the buy trade sell groups when I'm talking about buying preload for interior design stuff. But say it again, it was the buy nothing group and like kind of post free stuff and people will just come get it in your area. So, so I guess people should look out for that on Facebook groups in their, in their area.
Julie Naylon (09:37):
Oops. And then, you know, next door is another good resource and Craigslist, obviously the free section. So there's lots of different ways, you know, those various internet to get people, you know, to pick up your stuff for free, for sure. And even, I don't think have, you know, the broken bicycle, I've read a story about a guy who was going around collecting broken bicycles would fix them up than to give them to kids who needed them. Ooh, I love that. It's, you know, it's not just, you know, you know, one man's trash is another man's treasure is definitely true. So I always try to get people to think it's always one last stop before the dump. If you can see if somebody has a use for it or anything.
Erica Reiner (10:16):
Absolutely. And now do you take the stuff that is ready to be donated or rehomed or whatever out of your client's homes or do you leave that up to them?
Julie Naylon (10:25):
No, I, I will haul away as much as I can. After a session, I
Erica Reiner (10:30):
Would be worried about them pick going over and picking back
Julie Naylon (10:33):
Through it and trying to get we're going to do it, but it has to leave the house within 24 hours. Like you just got to get it out. Cause I've had clients before where I go to work with them and I find a bag in the closet and said, oh, what's this and this. And oh, that was our donation bag from, you know, six years ago. And yeah.
Erica Reiner (10:49):
Yeah, it gets stuck. Okay. I love that. So, you know, getting creative, using all of the resources and the online tools that we have to make sure that things get a good and proper home, which is going to help incentivize the purging process after you have decluttered. So tell us a little bit, I saw in your website that you won an award for being a green organizer. I'd love to learn a little bit about that. Yeah.
Julie Naylon (11:16):
I mean, you know, it's so funny now because I think, I just assume that everybody is a or organizer because no way
Erica Reiner (11:22):
I've met many who are not, I have to say, yeah,
Julie Naylon (11:25):
I know it's like wishful thinking, but yeah. I mean, when I first started, it just was a part of, you know, of what my beliefs are and, you know, and I definitely think there was a, you know, a lot of people interested in that because you know, you're doing double duty, you're helping yourself and you're helping the planet. So, you know, it's just a really good way and, you know, there's adjustments that you can make in your lifestyle. So it's not that difficult that can really, you know, help yourself and the planet. Absolutely.
Erica Reiner (11:55):
And, but who gave you the do you recall who gave you that Ord, we can give them a quick shout out here.
Julie Naylon (12:00):
If you do the national association of professional organizers, they held for a number of years, the organizing awards in Los Angeles. That's
Erica Reiner (12:09):
Awesome. So you kind of had to explain like what you do to be green with your clients and assess it at that level.
Julie Naylon (12:14):
Yeah, exactly. Very
Erica Reiner (12:16):
Cool. Okay. So I think that interior design and organizing has a lot of similarities. There's a lot of similarities in the type of client. It's a lot of similarities, I think in the like process and phases of the process to a degree. And I, I'm often in homes where I think an organizer is needed first or maybe later and maybe it's vice versa. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on how the two are connected and if you ever work with designers and if you do what do you wish you knew? Or what do you wish you could tell designers? That's something that like really bugs you when you're ever having to work with a designer or they've already worked with the one and you kind of have to go back in like, what's that overlap? Like the good and the bad?
Julie Naylon (13:13):
Yeah. I mean, I love working designers. They obviously, I mean, our jobs are similar in some ways, but they're so different. I could not do their job. And I think a lot of times they could not do mine. So I think we work really well together. But I definitely moved believer in form and function can happen together. So that's my, I like sometimes I see designers, it looks great. It will photograph great. But how does this family function in the space? Like you really want it to work, I think on both ends so that people are able to live and use the space properly, but also have it look really good. Right?
Erica Reiner (13:48):
So everything from adequate storage to layout to what other kind of things might look good, but not function well that we can inform the designers who may be listening to this about how to kind of play the organizers game a little bit better. Yeah.
Julie Naylon (14:06):
I just think it's thinking about, you know, like in kitchens, you know, if, you know, if you cook, you know, like, okay, this should go here, the flow of how you move within a kitchen the same thing within a bathroom, you know, what's an arms reach, like the space, you know, where the drawer of the hairdryer should be. Is this where the, you know, just really thinking all of those things through. Cause I think it's hard. You get caught up in aesthetics and this looks so pretty. You know, it's like the organizers, you know, just put everything in bins and it's got all color-coded and, but it's not sometimes real life. So I think that's where I come in and really get to know people and how they work in this space, because everything I do is customized for their needs.
Erica Reiner (14:48):
Well, tell us a little bit about work and what that process is like from start to finish. You gave us a little bit of a tidbit, but I'd love to hear it all the way through.
Julie Naylon (14:59):
Yeah. I usually start with the consultation and I come in and we do a walkthrough of the space when we talk about what's working and what's not, and their goals for the space. And then from there we would set up time to organize together and I worked directly with the client one-on-one because you can't really do this process without them, cause I really need their input. And also I try to transfer skills to them and find out more about how they live and work in a space. So we do our work together and we schedule, they have a three hour minimum per session cause you can't really get too much done in less time than that. So it just depends on what the client's availability is. And then there's often too in between sessions, I can break down projects for them that they can do on their own if they want to and help speed up the process. So it's a little bit like therapy in that way and there's, you know, and it also depends on too how far the client wants to take it, you know, cause there's, you know, extreme organizing where everything's labeled and you know, really down to, you know, and then some other people just need to have stuff really just, you know, tightened up and it doesn't have to go that far. So every client's different and every situation's different.
Erica Reiner (16:14):
Absolutely. well I can definitely say that if you think all the other organizers do it like you do, they do not. Cause I've definitely, you know, worked to Tanja in a client's house before and oftentimes it's just like a team sort of running free categorizing and binning and storing. And just to circle back to what you started talking about at the top in terms of the eco-friendly stuff, I think just to re iterate that it is, first of all, I love your approach to work with the client. It's semi therapeutic, hopefully. But it's instilling education and behaviors. And that I think is the biggest difference and biggest part that organizers can play when we're talking about getting people to have a different approach to consumerism and buying and bringing things in, for instance, in my life. And after getting into, you know, some of this dabbling into your world a little bit, I have like a one in one out kind of rule for a lot of things.
Erica Reiner (17:18):
I, you know, schedule my, my decluttering is as I look through different spaces in the house and that's all well and good to get rid of stuff, but you want to be able to make sure you're not just re accumulating with old habits. And so setting up systems, talking through doing them one-on-one and kind of adopting a new way of thinking about things and how we purchase things or even why we hang onto things instead of getting them into better, I think is, you know, where a lot of our overlap is in terms of my concerns with the environment than some of the work that I do. So just reiterating that and then going back to some of the tactical things that you said it sounds like how you approach is through that really like connected, integrated process and, and, you know, discussing those behaviors and those systems and things like that.
Erica Reiner (18:21):
And then also the reusing the first art, as you said, I don't know when the first one, those reviews, I guess it's the second art reviews and yeah. And you know, not jumping out and going into their car and going to the container store and buying all these new, like super fancy gadgets. I will say, I love the container source so much. I talk about it all the time. It's a fabulous place. It makes me very happy, but, but I do think it's really key in what you're saying is we probably all, if you think about it, have like a lot of stuff, a lot of bins and a lot of organizing like containers and things and stuff that we could use that's already here or could be repurposed. And then I think you had one more, really good like tidbit or approach to your work that I can't recall. Now, would you say, when do you want to run that out with anything else? Like a last little tip and how to go green during this work?
Julie Naylon (19:22):
Yeah, but I think going back to what you said about working with the client, because it really is they have to go through this process because I think that's when they really start to realize, oh my gosh, I bought all this stuff. And now I'm spending all this time and money now to organize all this stuff that they necessarily need and really take inventory on what you have in your house and what you actually need. And is this ultimately like, you know, and so I really liked, you know, getting clients to do the hard work because I tell them once we do this one time, you're not going to have to do this again. So that's kind of my hope and my goals for most of my clients. And that's usually how it goes.
Erica Reiner (20:01):
I love that. And then to, I think your last recap for us designers is to really pay attention to the function of things as we're putting things together and to maybe let go of our obsession with aesthetics just a little bit should the priority for function need to take precedence. And that's a great tip as well. So is there anything else that you want us to know about what you're doing that we could share with our listeners
Julie Naylon (20:34):
Disgust? Yeah. Keep working every day and you know, I love, I love what I do. I love helping people and I love helping people get things that they need. And it's, it's a very job.
Erica Reiner (20:48):
Awesome. Well, tell us one place where our listeners can find you if they need you.
Julie Naylon (20:54):
You can find me online no wire hangers.com.
Erica Reiner (20:58):
Okay. Well, thank you so much for joining and taking the time out of your busy day to be with us today and then impart a little wisdom from, I feel like the business cousin to design. So I so appreciate it. Thank you so much. And I am sure we will be in touch. Great. Thank you so much.