Interview with Professional Closet Designer Tracey Shadley

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Tracey Shadley

This week I am pleased to feature Tracey Shadley of Organize A-Z. A member of NAPO, Tracey designs closets, garages, offices, pantries, laundry rooms, and many other types of organizing storage. She also sponsored the Space Planning and Closet Organizing editions of the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival!

Welcome, Tracey!

How did your training and experience prepare you to become an organizer?

I worked for California Closets in Montreal for nearly 20 years. All of my training and experience comes from them.

How did you come up with your business name?

When I was moving from Montreal to Arizona, I had to create a business to get a Visa. Originally my company was a full-service organizing company, so I liked the play on A to Z with the AZ for Arizona.

How has your business changed since you first started out?

When I started 7 years ago, I was doing anything and everything related to organizing. As I became more well known in my town, I started to concentrate solely on Closets and Space. I’m busy enough with that to make me happy!

What would you do differently if you were starting your business today?

If I knew I was going to end up doing exclusively what I’m doing I would have chosen another name…one that had CLOSETS in it! LOL

How do you approach a new organizing project?

I offer a free in-home consultation where I measure the space, take a look at the wardrobe and needs and give the client an estimate. If they want to move forward to planning, I charge a design fee and deliver the plans with a quote. If the client chooses to move forward with me, the design fee is applied to the price of the closet. If not, the plans are theirs to do with as they like.

What other services or products do you offer?

I have an offering called “Virtual Closet Design”. The way it works is that you’re sent some forms to fill out (measurements and needs analysis), I will create the plans for you, and then you can build them yourself or have them built.

I’ve also recently written a book about Closet Organizing and Design.

Do you offer any products or services for other organizers?

I have an online course to teach people how to design closets which I created with Professional Organizers, Kitchen & Bath and Interior Designers in mind. It is fun and simple and could benefit the lay person as well.

Organizers can even take advantage of Virtual Closet Design for their clients – if they don’t want to do it themselves.

At what moment did you consider yourself successful?

I think I felt successful when I got my first word-of-mouth referral. It’s so nice to know that people are spreading great things about you and what you do!

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

It’s HARD. People know the value of what we do but don’t want to pay for it.

It’s not the same with closets. I think a tangible product is easier to sell than a service.

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

Awareness. I am a small business, so I have a limited advertising budget. I can’t compete with the big franchises that can keep paying to stay first on Google. I depend a lot on referrals. The good thing about referrals is that they are usually great leads!

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

I’m always working in one way or another. My mind is always coming up with new ideas. When I can get it to stop, I’m usually doing yoga, binge-watching a show or hanging with my friends.

What else should we know about you?

I love what I do!

Thanks for sharing, Tracey!

Who’s next?

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Tracey Shadley
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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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  1. Avatar Seana Turner on March 11, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I enjoyed reading this so much. I think a good closet design is worth every penny, although I do admit it is expensive. Organizers can do so much more with a well-designed, flexible closet space. Congratulations on your success Tracey!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 12, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      I hadn’t thought about how a well-designed space would make your job easier, but it makes so much sense!

    • Avatar Tracey Shadley on March 16, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      Hi! Yes it can be pricy, but you can use a great design with a less expensive product.
      Thanks for your good wishes!

  2. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on March 16, 2020 at 9:58 am

    I love your interview series. It shows how important it is to evolve in a small business.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 16, 2020 at 12:26 pm

      You’re so right, Sabrina – I don’t know too many people who start a business and continue doing the same thing for many years.

  3. Avatar Kim on March 16, 2020 at 10:00 am

    I love how Tracey came up with her business idea. Great name too even without the Closet part. I would love to have someone to call on if needed. Love that you can do Virtual Organizing around designing a Closet Space. Just wow!! Your book looks really interesting too. Great Success Tracey

    • Avatar Tracey Shadley on March 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks so much Kim!
      I’m here if you need me and the book really is a lot of fun!

  4. Avatar Janet Schiesl on March 16, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I love Tracey’s focus – closet! An organized closet can make a big difference in your outlook when you start each day in a space that works for you.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      I’d never thought of it that way but you’re absolutely right!

    • Avatar Tracey Shadley on March 16, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      Yes, exactly!
      Thank you.

  5. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on March 16, 2020 at 10:35 am

    What a great interview! I love that Tracey does both in-person and virtual closet design (and teaching.) That’s so smart. And especially given the climate right now with a worldwide pandemic, virtual everything seems to be the way to go.

    When I read that Tracey teaches closet design courses too, it reminded me of the very first professional development seminar I went to way back when. It was probably in 1993. I had never met any other organizers before and had just joined NAPO National and NAPO-NY. The New York chapter sponsored a full day professional development seminar by a longtime closet designer, Stephanie Farrar. There were about ten of us at the session including Julie Morgenstern and Linda Rothschild, who had both recently started their organizing businesses. I haven’t thought about that in years. Thank you for jogging my memory.

    • Avatar Tracey Shadley on March 16, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks so much!

  6. Deb Lee Deb Lee on March 17, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Great getting to know you, Tracey. And, now I feel strongly compelled to redo my closets!

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