By Maggie Caraway
For the Opelika Observer
Expert organizer Marie Kondo once said, “Discard everything that does not spark joy.” This is much easier said than done. Organizing and simplifying can be a daunting task for even the cleanest individuals. “Stuff” piles up. “Stuff” from Christmas two years ago, “stuff” from your child’s first birthday, “stuff” that does not fit anymore, “stuff” that you swore you would get rid of years ago. The truth is, “stuff” can take over your life. Once you are finally ready to conquer the years’ worth of “stuff,” you probably do not even know where to begin. Luckily, local people like professional organizer Dena Willis exist.
Willis is originally from Springfield, Illinois, but decided to make Auburn home with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and 13-year-old stepdaughter. Willis has always been tidy, prioritizing an organized space but focusing just on her own personal environment.
However, after her mother showed her the Kondo folding method and “The Home Edit” debuted on Netflix, Willis realized she could share her passion for organizing and helping people.
“I’ve always been the kind of person that wants things orderly and tidy, all the same hangers and different categories for things, but I never knew it was a real-life business,” she said.
Willis started her professional organizing business, D. Clutter Solutions, in November 2020. She admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic challenged her and many others to make money in new ways. Before upgrading to a larger home, she had to find different ways and techniques to maximize her space. She then realized she could be doing it for other people, too. She found a coach to teach her the ins-and-outs of starting a professional organizing business, but quickly realized that social media was going to play a key role in her marketing strategy.
“In this day in age, it’s all about social media … That’s the main marketing tool,” she said. “I’m 38 this year … I’m not really going be dancing on TikTok and all that. It’s just not my jam. No shade to anybody that does, but that’s just not me. And that’s a big thing right now on social media.”
Although Willis does not have a presence on the widely popular TikTok app, she does have Facebook and Instagram pages as well as a website. She manages them all herself and creates original content including before and after photos of her clients’ spaces, weekly tips relating to organizing, decluttering and moving and even hauls of products that could help organize and simplify her clients’ lives. Additionally, Willis realizes the unrealistic standards that social media creates and aims to portray herself and her business as authentically as possible.
Currently, Willis is encouraging her social media followers to spring clean. Every day, she offers tips to tackle one room of the house at a time. For example, on day one of the “Spring Clean D. Clutter,” she recommended taking 15 to 20 minutes to find items in the kitchen that do not serve a purpose. These items could include nearly-empty jars, expired items, unused books, worn out cook wear and flat wear, stained dishtowels, old sponges and gloves and unwanted cleaners.
Willis created the method “decide, divide and design” and encourages her followers to use it when decluttering and organizing. This simple-yet-effective method requires individuals to “Go through every item and make the decision to keep or not to keep. Make two piles to separate items into those simple categories.” Next, “Divide the not-keep group into specific action piles: sell, consign, donate, recycle, dump, shred. Divide the keep group into like items: spices, socks, board games, paint supplies, etc.” Finally, “Choose the appropriate structure and containers to store the new subdivisions. Label using specific and easy wording.”
Willis offers various services including remote learning/working layout, vacation/game day rental layout, estate assistance, move prep, unpacking services and professional organizing.
Coordinating a time to “D. Clutter” is a simple and stress-free process. Willis starts with an email or phone call to get to know her clients and uses it as a time to figure out how she could help them. She then proceeds with a formal consultation where she likes to see the space she would be working with. This step can also be done virtually. Willis uses this time to assess what supplies she will need to complete the task. The final step is to go “decide, divide and design,” and transform her client’s space into a refreshing and functional environment.
She emphasizes the amount of trust that goes into professional organizing. “It’s a lot of trust. People are ushering you into their homes and not only that, but typically not the best part of their life.” Willis also stresses that her clients never have to worry about feeling judged. “I’m a judge-free zone … It’s my pleasure to help. It can change people’s lives.”
According to Willis, the benefits of having an organized space are bountiful. “It can be mental. It can be physical. It can be economical. There are so many benefits to just getting your stuff in order and keeping it that way.” Reap the benefits and satisfaction of an organized space by letting Dena Willis “D. Clutter” your home.
Visit www.dcluttersolutions.com, D. Clutter on Facebook, the @d.cluttersolutions Instagram page, or call (334) 758-6714.