September/October 2006 Volume 13, Issue 6
In This Issue

NAPO Los Angeles

Mission Statement: NAPO-LA is an organization dedicated to bringing Southern California area organizers together through networking, education, professional growth, industry updates, support and public awareness.

NAPO-Los Angeles
PMB 134, 10573 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone 213-486-4477

NAPO-Los Angeles
Who's Who

Chris McKenry

Vice President:
John Trosko

Cindy Kamm

Naomi Altman

Director of Administration:
Susan Eleftherakis

Director of Communications & Technology:
Susan Culligan

Director of Finance:
Maria Parkinson

Director of Marketing:
Deborah Kawashima

Director of Membership:
Joanna Sletten

Director of Professional Development:
Dolores Kaytes

Immediate Past President:
Robin L. Davi

Coordinators &
Committee Chairs

Associate Member Coordinator:
Barb Schmit
Jodi McDaniel
GO Month Coordinator:
Michelle Quintana
Golden Circle Advisor:
Ann Gambrell
Greeting Coordinator:
Toni Scharff
Sttevven Bennett
Historian (Scrapbooker):
Judy Powell
Katherine Macey
Meeting Assistant:
Toni Scharff
MET Program Coordinators:
Jean Furuya
Ann Gambrell
NAPO in the Schools Coordinator:
Deborah Kawashima
New Member Orientation:
Jean Furuya
Ann Gambrell
Sara Getzkin
Public Relations:
Deborah Kawashima
Registration Assistant:
Lori Gersh
Silent Auction:
Cindy Kamm
Volunteer Coordinator:
Abbey Keusch
Susan Culligan
Susan Eleftherakis
Jodi McDaniel
Toni Scharff

The Los Angeles Organizer
Newsletter Staff

Claire Flannery

Laura Johnson

Sheila McCurdy
Toni Scharff

Submission Guidelines: Published six times per year (January, March, May, July, September and November). All articles are copyrighted. All rights reserved. Submit text in Microsoft Word attachment or type directly into email message. Attach visuals as .jpg or .tif. Send to
Deadline: All articles must be received by the 25th of the month prior to publication.

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Ad Price: $25 Members,
$35 Non-NAPO Members
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Coupon Price: $35 Members,
$45 Non-NAPO Members

National Membership

Annual Dues:
$200 - Individual
$150 - Associate-Branch
$250 - Associate-Local
$550 - Associate-Corporate
$20 - New Member One-Time Processing Fee

Chapter Membership

  • NAPO National membership required.
  • Membership includes electronic newsletter.
    Annual Dues (Oct. to Sept.):
    $100 - Level 1 - Basic Member w/website listing
    $150 - Level 2 - Basic Member w/website listing and paid meeting fees (Available only with annual renewal in September.)
    $150 - Associate Member/Branch
    $250 - Associate Member/Local
    $25 - New/Lapsed Member Processing Fee
    $10 - Meeting Fee
    $25 - Visitor Meeting Fee

    Membership Report

    38 Members
    4 Visitors
    42 Total Attendance

    33 Members
    6 Visitors
    39 Total Attendance

    Total Membership: 110

    Welcome New Members!


    Joan Chodorow, Venice
    Organize Your Life

    Wendy Cross, Pasadena
    Wendy Cross Organizing

    Teresa Lorenz, Lawndale
    Organization Solutions

    Abbreviated Minutes

    July 2006 Board Meeting
  • Michelle Quintana has replaced Cindy Kamm as GO Month Coordinator.
  • Organizing Expo will be October 23.
  • The Board is looking into polo-style shirts (to be available for purchase by chapter members) that can be used to create a uniform look at events such as GO Month.

    August 2006 Board Meeting
  • New Volunteer Coordinator is Abbey Keusch
  • NAPO-LA polo shirts will be available for purchase later this fall
  • Jean Furuya is the new MET Coordinator

    ~Submitted by Naomi Altman
    The Space Case
    NAPO-LA Secretary~

    Assistant's List

    The Assistant's List is available as a resource connecting those available to serve as assistants to organizers who need them. To be included on the Assistant's List, send an email to Include your name, phone number and email address. The list is only for members of NAPO-LA and does not guarantee work. The Assistant's List is found here in the newsletter and also under the "Members Only" section of the chapter's website.

    Joan Chodorow

    Lani Gallegos

    Laura Johnson

    Abby Keusch

    Justine Miceli

    Maria Parkinson

    Cheryl Perkins

    Dee Saar

    Joanna Sletten

    Robin Valdez


    NAPO-LA is not responsible for the products and/or services advertised.

    For more information on becoming a NAPO member, click here.

    Quick Links...

  • Reminder:
    The Los Angeles Organizer
    is published bimonthly. Look for "Announcements from the Board" in between issues. Deadline for submissions for the November/December newsletter is October 25.


    National Preparedness Month
    National School Success Month
    Self-Improvement Month
    25 NAPO-LA Board Meeting - 2:30 pm
    25 NAPO-LA Chapter Meeting - 6:15 pm
    30 Last day to renew Chapter Membership without penalty

    Home Based Business Week - 2nd week
    18 Bosses Day
    22 Golden Circle quarterly meeting
    23 MET Educational Seminar (before Expo)
    23 Professional Resources & Networking Expo
    28 NAPO-San Francisco Organizing Conference

    American Education Week - 3rd week
    Pursuit of Happiness Week - 2nd week
    9 Meeting of CD Support Group 6-8:30 pm
    23 Happy Thanksgiving!
    27 NAPO-LA Board Meeting - 1 pm
    27 NAPO-LA Holiday Dessert Meeting - 6:15 pm

    Calendar Listings for NAPO-LA Members:
    Organizing events of members may be listed on the NAPO-LA calendar for only $30 per month. Include event, date, time, location and your contact information, along with a 50-word description and send to Calendar Listings.

    President's Message

    NAPO-LA and 1-800-Got-Junk? Open the Door

    By Chris McKenry
    Get It Together LA!
    and NAPO-LA President

    After a call from 1-800-Got-Junk, volunteers from NAPO-LA spent a day in Stanton last week helping a challenged Rebecca, who suffers not only from obsessive compulsive disorder but also from some difficult hoarding issues.

    When our team arrived, the front door could barely open enough to squeeze into the living room. The clutter was six feet high throughout the apartment.

    Concerned that others were being wasteful, Rebecca had “saved” items from the trash for years to give to those in need. Over time, the apartment all but disappeared under a pile of rubble. When Rebecca's 80-year-old mother had an emergency, she almost did not make it out!

    “I have to get this place emptied so mother can come home,” said Rebcca. Though she and I discussed the process, it was still a very trying experience for her. With five professional organizers, four junk haulers, two television stations and one major newspaper on site it is no wonder Rebecca was stressed - but everyone involved went above and beyond standards of professionalism to complete the day’s work.

    I want to thank Susan Culligan, Lori Gersh, Deborah Kawashima, and Joanna Sletten for joining me in not only helping Rebecca but also for making our NAPO-LA chapter shine in the media spotlight. Also, thank you to Ann Gambrell for donating a scholarship for Rebecca to Ann's Clutter Support Group.

    Read the Orange County Register Story

    Time to Renew Your Annual Dues

    NAPO-LA Membership Renewals

    All NAPO-LA memberships renew annually in September. If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment right now to renew your membership. (NOTE: A $25 Late Fee will apply after September 30.)

    Your membership is an investment in the growth of your business. Your chapter brings referrals to you through the referral program on our website and also offers opportunities to develop professionally through the many programs offered throughout the year.

    Interaction with vendors and affiliates of our industry is another benefit of membership, as well as many opportunities to network with other organizers.

    The regular membership dues structure for the 2006-07 year is:
    $100 "Level 1" Membership Option - Yearly dues and Website Listing in the "Find an Organizer" section (new enhanced listing is available at no additional charge). Does not include member chapter meeting fees of $10 for each meeting.
    $150 "Level 2" Membership Option - Yearly dues to include all chapter meeting fees and Website Listing in the "Find an Organizer" section (new enhanced listing is available at no additional charge). Only available at time of renewal.
    $25 – Late Fee (applied after September 30)

    The Associate member dues structure for the 2006-07 year is:
    $150 - Branch Associate Member - operates as a local branch or regional office of a Corporate Associate Member.
    $250 - Local Associate Member - a locally-based, self-operating retailer, supplier, designer, or independent sales representative engaged primarily in the manufacture, distribution, and/or sales of organizational equipment, supplies, or organizing industry related services.
    $25 - Late Fee (applied after September 30)

    Thank you for supporting the founding chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Together our success is assured.

    NAPO-LA Chapter Meeting Information

    By Dolores Kaytes, Highly-Organized
    and NAPO-LA Director of Professional Development

    Upcoming Meetings

    September 25
    Golden Circle Panel
    "If I Knew Then What I Know Now..."

    NAPO-LA will provide another learning experience to help you develop and grow your business. Panel members Marcy Melton, Diana Ryan and Beverly Clower will share what they have learned from their years of experience and what they would change or do differently. After brief remarks from the panel, Donna McMillan, the facilitator, will ask the audience to write questions on note cards that will be collected and passed in for the Q & A portion of the program.

    October 23
    Professional Resource and
    Networking Expo

    In place of our regular monthly meeting format, we will have the 2nd annual Professional Resource and Networking Expo. Get inspired with fresh resources, potential new alliances, educational opportunities and more networking time with your colleagues. Tables are available to puchase and we are actively searching for vendors. Applications for vendors can be found on our website NAPOLA.ORG

    Also on October 23

    All Professional Organizers
    (New, Intermediate & Advanced)

    Build Your Business
    Brick by Brick
    Harness the Power of Networking
    and Strategic Alliances

    A special MET Training Session to be conducted by Donna McMillan before the Expo.

    Are you finding all the clients you want? When clients ask you for a service that you don’t provide, can you refer them to a trusted associate?

    How many hours did you spend at your last networking function, not to mention travel time?

    How much is your time worth? If your business is going to grow, those hours should pay off in new clients and new alliances.

    Networking helps us find new clients and develop new relationships, but only if we use it effectively. There’s a client around every corner — but you have to turn the right corner! This training session will teach you how!

    There are three parts to this training on October 23:

    1. Presentation:
      Information and Technique (3:30 - 5:30 pm)
    2. Practical application at Expo (6 – 8 pm)
    3. Evaluation and Discussion (8 pm)

    Knowledge is Power! There are businesses that provide products or services that can increase your value to your clients. Become the “go-to” person your clients can rely on to fulfill their needs. Also, these businesses could be referring your company to their clients. That’s what a strategic alliance is all about!

    Don’t waste your time and money on ineffective marketing strategies. Learn from a veteran professional organizer who has been in this industry for 22 years. Use your new found skills right away at the NAPO-LA Professional Resource and Networking Expo, which immediately follows this training session. Develop your first strategic alliance now and do not miss this opportunity to gain crucial business-building skills.

    For details and registration, CLICK HERE

    Donna McMillan has been coaching/training professional organizers for 14 years, both in the US and abroad. She has developed these strategies from her own experience while building a successful business, McMillan & Company Professional Organizing.

    For more information, contact Donna McMillan
    Phone: 310-391-7392


    NAPO-LA would like to thank Tom Spiglanin, Ph.D., of for sharing his knowledge and expertise about internet marketing strategies at our July chapter meeting. Dr. Spiglanin simplified the terminology and gave us tools that encouraged many to venture into cyberspace in order to grow our businesses. We also thank him for being so generous with his time and for staying on to continue answering questions after the meeting ended.

    October 23 Vendor Event Returns
    Volunteer needed

    Professional Resources & Networking Expo

    This popular event is returning from its debut last year. The entire October meeting will be dedicated to networking with peers and seeing exciting products that will enhance your work with clients. Hors d'oeuvres will be served and a no-host bar will be available.

    A new feature will be a special workshop sponsored by the MET committee. Donna McMillan will lead this educational program sharing the skills needed to build your business though networking and building alliance partners. The workshop will be an additional cost to the Expo.

    If you have a product or book you would like to promote, this is an excellent opportunity. A discounted table rate is available to NAPO-LA members. Do you have a great resource that other members would be interested in? If so, we would appreciate your letting us know.

    Registration form and information can be found at NAPOLA.ORG

    NAPO-San Francisco Conference
    SF butterfly

    18th Annual
    SF Regional
    October 28

    The San Francisco chapter of NAPO will hold its 18th Annual Regional Conference - "Transforming Lives" – on Saturday, October 28, from 8 am to 6:30 pm in Newark, California, at the Newark/Fremont Hilton Hotel.

    Organizing transforms lives, creating simplicity, order, clarity, and balance. The effects of this process ripple out from organizer to client to the entire community. This Regional Conference is designed for organizers who want to enhance their professionalism, be more effective with clients, and learn new techniques. Join in for this journey of transformation.

    Begin the day with dynamic keynote speaker Ric Giardina, author of Become a Life Balance Master. Ric is president of The Spirit Employed Company, which provides principles and techniques to individuals to help them create and maintain life balance and develop a personal style of gentle self-discipline that will naturally increase productivity and enhance a sense of fulfillment.

    The day will also consist of 18 educational workshops filled with subjects such as: marketing techniques, expanding your business, personal and professional development, and technology, to name just a few. Breakfast, lunch and a networking reception are included.

    For more information, contact
    Doreen Kleindienst, Chair
    NAPO-SF Regional Conference
    Phone: 510-538-4782

    Have You Volunteered Today?

    Volunteers Run NAPO-LA

    By Susan Eleftherakis, Spatial Clarity
    and NAPO-LA Director of Administration

    Would it surprise you to know that NAPO-LA is run entirely by the volunteer efforts of its’ members? Volunteers are not only the heart and soul of NAPO-LA but also the dynamic force that moves it forward.

    The NAPO-LA Chapter Volunteer Call List currently lists 61 volunteer positions (with some individuals holding more than one), including five website-related (webmaster/assistant webmaster) roles that were recently added. There are numerous volunteer needs that are not on this list, such as making phone calls, assisting with the planning of both GO Month and the Organizing Awards, creating flyers and other graphics or text work, writing for the newsletter, and providing support for various fundraising and marketing efforts, to name just a few. Spreading the work out among all of our members ensures that no one gets burned out.

    Our success depends on our members pitching in, and the good news is that getting involved has many benefits. Volunteer participation brings the opportunity to network, as well as to know and be known by other members. It also brings a feeling of belonging and the satisfaction of contributing to the success of such a dynamic organization.

    The most immediate volunteer need is for six webmaster/assistant webmaster positions, a registration assistant (for monthly chapter meetings) and a visitor coordinator. Help is also needed with upcoming events including GO Month and the Organizing Awards, both to take place in early 2007.

    To volunteer, contact
    Abbey Keusch. Volunteer Coordinator


    It's National Preparedness Month
    emergency kit

    Are You Ready for an Emergency?

    By Deborah Kawashima
    and NAPO-LA Director of Marketing

    National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during the month of September 2006 to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies.

    NAPO has joined a coalition of more than 670 national, regional, state and local organizations to promote National Preparedness Month in order to provide Americans with information about preparing themselves, their families and their communities for emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist threats.

    This year's goals are to increase public awareness about the importance of family emergency preparedness and to urge individuals to make themselves and their loved ones better prepared.

    Families are encouraged to obtain an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and be informed about the different threats that may affect them.

    For more information about this program, click here:

    To download a list of recommended emergency supplies, click here:

    We need your tips! Family emergency tips from NAPO- LA members are being posted on the NAPO-LA website through the end of September.

    Please submit your family emergency tips to
    Deborah Kawashima

    Silent Auction for September

    Get Charmed by Chris!

    Our NAPO-LA President once was all chicken. Before moving to Los Angeles, Chris McKenry was Vice President in charge of marketing and production at his family's Tennessee poultry processing business. In January of 2000, he sold his interest in the 103-year-old firm and moved to California.

    Arriving in Los Angeles, he discovered NAPO and learned that the organization had its roots in the local area. Deciding to pursue a career in the organizing field, Chris knew the first step to success was to join NAPO and get involved.

    For six years, Chris's business, Get It Together LA!, has grown to include organizing for home and office, custom closet and garage design services, and relocation management. From clearing clutter to designing storage systems, Chris is often called a "miracle worker" by clients.

    "I enjoy teaching clients to realize their own potential by getting them to understand how their habits affect their environments," said Chris.

    Featured in news articles and on television, this is one organizer who enjoys marketing almost as much as organizing. He is sought after as a speaker, with presentations given on organizing topics, networking, and also on behalf of our chapter. Get It Together LA! sends monthly O-Tips to over 1,000 contacts, most of whom Chis met while networking at various functions.

    Chris is currently the President of NAPO-LA and serves on the Board of Directors of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Recipient of the 2005 Leading Edge Award, Chris was also honored in 2003 with the President's Award during Small Business Week by the West Hollywood Chamber. He is also the founding President of the West Hollywood Chapter of BNI.

    Your questions on organizing, marketing, and networking will be answered with a southern accent and a grin.

    NOTE: The Silent Auction is a regular fundraiser for our NAPO-LA chapter and is held at most chapter meetings. During the meeting, the Silent Auction Volunteer will be announced and a clipboard will be circulated. Bidding takes place by simply entering your bid on the sign-up sheet as it circulates the room. The "winner" is announced at the end of the meeting and is entitled to a one-hour session with the Silent Auction Volunteer either in person or on the phone.

    June Volunteer of the Month
    Toolbelt DOP

    Laura Johnson, Redesigner with Flair

    By Susan Culligan
    Got to Get Organized
    and NAPO-LA Director of Communications and Technology

    “You get what you give,” says Laura, explaining why she finds herself volunteering for whatever group she joins. So when an announcement was made asking for help with the NAPO-LA newsletter, Laura took on the challenging job of publisher, producing the last issue under difficult circumstances and proving that if she’s going to do a job, she’s going to do it well.

    Laura majored in interior design in college, and, after 31 years of marriage, took interior redesign training in 2001, becoming an IRIS Certified Interior Redesigner. Her business, Let Me Rearrange You, specializes in interior redesign, home staging and color consultation. Laura’s tag line says it all: Transforming your home from blah to ‘ahh’ using existing furnishings.

    While attending an Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (IRIS) conference in 2004, Laura heard about NAPO and immediately became a national member. A few months after joining the LA chapter, she got involved in the LA Organizing Awards project and had a great time working with other NAPO members. That's when she became hooked on volunteering for our chapter!

    Though Laura’s passion is interior redesign and home staging, she is interested in learning more about other organizing specialties -- maybe some less physical ones! As our newsletter publisher, she can’t help but think of ways to add flair to the publication (after all, she’s a redesigner). Laura is a real pro, as well as a delightful person.

    Congratulations, Laura!

    Golden Circle Column

    Golden Circle Column

    By Kevin Hall
    Clutter No More, Inc.
    and a Golden Circle Member

    Two veteran organizers, Carolyn Strauss and Diana Ryan, wrote a series of “NAPO Dramas.” These vignettes highlight potential ethical difficulties.

    Here is a sample:

    A Case Study Series
    Episode #2

    As NAPO members, we have pledged "to exercise judgment, self-restraint and conscience in (our) conduct in order to establish and maintain public confidence in the integrity of NAPO. We will keep confidential all client information, both business and personal, including that which may be revealed by other organizers." In this spirit, the characters in this vignette are a fictitious mosaic of client types encountered by professional organizers.

    At the end of Episode #1, fledgling organizer, Sunny, had held a "Messiest Desk" contest resulting in an article in her local newspaper. Connie read the article in the paper, and, convinced by the "before" and "after" photos of the winner's desk, called Sunny. She describes packing for a move and readying the house for an open house. Sunny went to assess the situation and to give an estimate. She's not experienced enough to get information over the phone, and jumped at the chance to go there with little knowledge of the situation.

    As Connie leads Sunny into the study, Sunny notices a bundle of banker's boxes in the hall. There's an ample sprinkling of Rubbermaid and Avery products amidst the clutter in the study. Connie asks Sunny if she includes organizing products in her price. Suddenly it dawns on Sunny that she's on the scent of another organizer. She wonders if she should say something about it.

    When Connie goes to the kitchen to let the dog in, Sunny reaches for the Lillian Vernon catalog on the coffee table, and, to her amazement, under the catalog is a document indicating that Connie's house is in foreclosure. Sunny wonders if she even wants this job. Will she get paid?

    Connie returns and volunteers that she had another organizer in last week, "but she talked too much and really wasn't worth the rate she charged. She didn't come across as being particularly 'professional' either. I expected that she'd at least have brought some boxes with her on the first day... ."

  • How should Sunny respond?
  • Could Sunny have been better prepared for this meeting?
  • Should Sunny attempt to find out who the first organizer was and what broke up the relationship?
  • What are our ethical obligations to other organizers?
  • Can Sunny turn this into a win/win situation?

    Keeping your ethical edge sharp implies, however the antithesis, a dulling process as it were. What causes this potential to occur? Possibly looking for the “newest and greatest” marketing strategy, the latest “spin” can cause a dulling in our reasoning process. Keeping in mind that there are absolutes, we are called on as professionals to realize that we need to maintain a high standard of behavior. A constant vigilance is needed, not that anything new is wrong, just remember to use the ethics “filter” to assist oneself in making decisions.

    Even though Sunny is a novice organizer, we could all encounter the same issues. Here are key principles in the Code of Ethics, as found on the NAPO website, to ponder.

  • Principle-A rule or standard of good behavior
  • Ethics-from the Greek-meaning character. A principle of right and wrong behavior
  • Character-moral or ethical strength. What you do when no one is looking!
  • Integrity-Firm adherence to a code or standard of values
  • Competence-Legal qualification or eligibility
  • Objectivity-Ability to look at a situation apart from emotion, its own reality
  • Respect-(apart from Aretha Franklin’s song)-Esteem, to avoid violation

    This is a constant vigil in our profession.

    Copyright Clutter No More, Inc. 2006
    NAPO Drama used with permission.

    Kevin Hall has been a NAPO-LA member since 1994. He is the Founder and current member of NAPO-San Diego, where he presently holds the position of Ethics Education Chair. Please address comments to

  • A Bit from Barb

    Organize with Color!

    By Barb Schmit
    Associate Member, Esselte

    How often have you had to sift through piles of paper to find what you were looking for? We’ve all done this not only with clients but with ourselves as well.

    If you find yourself in this predicament, there are a multitude of products to help you out of it.

    One of my favorite tools, which I tell my filing customers to use, is color. There are three main reasons to use colored files:

  • Color recognition is 40% to 50% faster
  • Colored files reduce misfiling by 50%
  • Color coding files makes it easy to see if a folder is in the wrong place

    If you use manila folders in a sorter on your desk, you have to read the labels to find which file you want. How much easier is it to use different colored file folders instead of manila? Before long, you won’t even have to read the labels because you will know which color holds which project or papers. You recognize the color faster than you can read a label.

    Think about when you visit an amusement park. You may have seen young school children dressed in the same T-shirt? Often, when a school takes a class on a field trip, each class has its own color T-shirt so it’s easy to identify which child belongs to which class. This is, of course, quite efficient.

    It’s the same with colored file folders. Think about how you might bring color into your office to make tasks such as filing not only easier, but much pleasanter as well. You, or your clients, will be much more productive in much less time. And, colored folders look so much better than those plain old manila folders!

    A product you may want to consider for helping your clients organize the piles on their desks is PileSmart by Pendaflex. PileSmart offers a variety of colorful folders and tabs to help make filing and finding papers that you've filed so much easier. Check out the PileSmart Quick View Write-On Jackets with colored edges, 6 per pack, for about $5.

    Also, take a look at the I Hate Filing Club website for some useful filing tips. Just click here I Hate Filing Club

    As for me, how do I use color? My HOT files are red; business files are blue; personal files are purple. When I see a file folder on my desk, I know immediately which file cabinet it belongs in. So can you.

    No more need to see RED from frustration!

  • Golden Circle Interview Series

    Michelle Quintana's Six Strategies to Profitability

    By Deborah Kawashima
    and NAPO-LA Director of Marketing

    Michelle Quintana started her organizing business, The Simple Organizer, in San Francisco in 1998. She moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and now resides in Long Beach. A member of NSGCD, Michelle often works with chronically-disorganized clients, but also works with real-estate agents to declutter homes before selling.

    “When I started my organizing business, it was to be self-employed and to run my own business,” explains Quintana. “Being in business is about making money. How much money are you making? That’s the bottom line.”

    Michelle shares Six Strategies to build a profitable organizing business.

    1. Create a Business Plan. Define where you’re going so that you can make a plan to get there. Ask yourself: What kind of business do I want? Part-time? Full-time? How much money do I need to make every month? “Back yourself out of the parking lot and figure it out,” suggests Michelle. Ask yourself how much you need to make every day, week and month to earn the income you want? Where are you going to be ten years from now? When do you want to retire? “My goal is to retire within ten years,” explains Quintana. “In order to do that, I need to look at what I am doing right now. Every month I ask myself how I can gross another $1000 a month? What do I need to do to achieve that?”

    2. Focus on the clients you want! “Turn clients away that are not a good match,” suggests Michelle. “Don’t take on a client if it’s not a good fit. It’s not fair to the client or to you.”

    3. Specialize. Decide what you love to organize and focus on that. “If you love organizing closets, then become the expert closet organizer, making your website the place to go for closets,” suggests Michelle. Specializing makes it easier for people to not only think of you but also to refer you.

    4. Have current clients make a commitment to you. On your first appointment, get your clients to state their commitment to getting completely organized. At the end of the first session, set up the second appointment. Explain that just doing one room isn’t going to help them with their problem. “Remember the 80/20 rule,” reminds Quintana. “80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients.”

    5. Give yourself a 20% raise! “This radically changed my income level, now in the six figure range, with 20 - 25 hours a week billable time,” declared Quintana. “Raise your rate and stick to it!”

    6. Have a Cancellation Policy. Your clients need to respect your time. “Bill for the time reserved,” insists Quintana. “Put your policy in red ink, have them sign it, and then enforce it!”

    Being proactive is about being in control of your business. “Changes are not made without fear,” insists Quintana. “You need to get out of your comfort zone and go for it!"

    NOTE: This article is one in an on-going series of interviews with Golden Circle members. It is just one of the many ways veteran members give back to NAPO- LA.

    Organized Karma

    Shredded Karma

    By Sara Getzkin
    Hands On! Organizing Services

    Situation: A client hires you and wants to purge his personal files. Problem: He has NEVER purged a piece of paper in his life!

    “Document destruction” or “paper shredding” has become an important part of the professional organizer’s everyday life. Our clients have tons of confidential materials and often seem anxious when we suggest parting with them. While we convince them that every bit of paper will be properly destroyed, protecting their identity, we need to remind them that their papers can be recycled and made into “new” recycled products. Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and a significant amount of energy, water, and air pollution.

    Why are clients worried about identity theft? Every year, more than 10 million people in the U.S. will become victims. How do thieves do it? Dumpster diving is one way. Your personal information can easily be found in your garbage. Simple items such as a checkbook or piece of mail may contain all the information a thief needs to steal your identity. Destroying confidential but outdated documents reduces the risk. In addition, businesses (including yours) should have a destruction policy in place to protect its client base.

    What if a client has too much to shred in a personal or home-office shredder? Consider a professional shredding service. While big businesses have been doing this for years and often have monthly service contracts, shredding companies haven’t forgotten about us! Save time, effort and sanity for both you and your client – call a shredder in your area and ask the following questions:

  • What happens to the paper fibers? Are they recycled?
  • Do you have a mobile (pick-up) service? If so, do you shred on-site?
  • Do you have a drop-off service? Can I drop-off anytime or just certain days/times?
  • Can I witness the shredding?
  • Do you issue a Certificate of Destruction?
  • How do you measure units & figure cost? Per box or per pound?
  • Is there a minimum?

    Question to NAPO-LA members: If a mobile shredding truck were to visit NAPO-LA once a month (possibly the same day as our monthly meetings), would you be interested in using this service? Participating organizers would be responsible for the cost of their own (and their clients’) shredding.

    Please send your comments to Sara Getzkin

    NOTE: Organized Karma is an occasional series focusing on donation and recycling resources.

  • July Volunteer of the Month

    Kristine Oller Just Does It!

    By Susan Culligan
    Got to Get Organized
    and NAPO-LA Director of Communications and Technology

    Kristine Oller has never been one to sit around wishing she could do something -- she just does it! In 1999 she read an article about a “professional organizer,” thought it fit her perfectly, made up business cards, and started organizing!

    Organizing was actually a side job to her acting career. Her first clients were family, friends and people from the Actor’s Network. It took several years, but she made a “crossroads” decision to organize full-time, no longer dividing herself between organizing and acting. She’s found that organizing allows her to fulfill her true potential as well as to be totally self-directed and her own boss!

    Kristine joined NAPO-LA in 2002, and true to form extended herself to veterans she met and admired, always determined to give value for whatever help or advice she got. About volunteering, she calls it “networking up,” meaning that it gives you a chance to work side by side with people who are ahead of you in experience or ability. Volunteering forms great bonds of comradeship and loyalty, building the foundation for lasting relationships with fellow organizers.

    Kristine talks a lot about the value of referring others with different abilities to fulfill her clients’ needs. She doesn’t hesitate to bring in other organizers who may have a special ability that is not precisely her expertise, thereby showing her clients that she has the resources to meet their needs while building strong relationships with the organizers she works with. She feels there is work enough for all, and referrals only strengthen her success while adding to the accomplishments of her colleagues. She is a true ray of sunshine in our chapter.

    Congratulations, Kristine!

    TIPS Program
    Remind resized

    One In; One Out

    Don't forget... when buying a new item of clothing, retire (give away/sell/throw away) a similar item. Do the same with books.

    Submitted by Toni Scharff,
    The Simplicity Project

    Magazine Overload?

    Check with the local elementary schools, day care centers, retirement homes, hospitals, and doctors' offices to see if they would like your (or your clients') old magazines. Clients are better able to release them if they know they will be well used or will be going to a good cause.

    Submitted by Ann Gambrell,
    Creative Time-Plus

    About the TIPS Program:
    NAPO-LA has instigated a TIPS Program managed by the chapter's Golden Circle members. Ann Gambrell is the chair and invites all chapter members to submit their organizing tips via email, postal mail or on index cards that will be available at the monthly chapter meetings for deposit into the “Organizing Tips” box.

    TIPS are requested in two categories:

    • "Tips from Pros" are organzing tips for clients/the public.
    • "Tips of the Trade" are tips for organizers to use in their businesses.

    When submitting TIPS, you are invited (optional) to include your name, business name and contact information. This will serve to promote you when the client/public TIPS are posted on the NAPO-LA website's home page.

    Email your TIPS to

    Golden Circle Update

    Golden Circle at the Beach

    By Ann Gambrell
    Creative-Time Plus
    and Golden Circle Liason

    The Los Angeles area Golden Circle convened recently at the Manhattan Beach home of Dolores Kaytes. Toni Scharff served as co-hostess. After much conversation and a great lunch, the group enjoyed a NAPO Golden Circle update lead by Ann Gambrell.

    Chris McKenry, NAPO-LA chapter President, discussed upcoming chapter events and encouraged members to participate and help promote various NAPO activities.

    Jean Furuya, as chair of the MET committee, led a discussion on the need for volunteers in the chapter. All of members present completed a volunteer form indicating their willingness to help bring the chapter to another level in education and outreach through member volunteer participation.

    The Golden Circle Panel, which will be presented at the NAPO-LA chapter meeting in September, was formed. Beverly Clower, Marcy Melton and Diana Ryan willingly offered to participate. Donna McMillan will act as facilitator. The topic to be addressed, “If I knew then what I know now," is one sure to appeal to all members. After each panel member addresses the topic, a Q & A session will follow.

    For more information on Golden Circle,
    contact Ann Gambrell


    CD Clients – Support Group

    November 9 Meeting Planned

    By Jean Furuya
    The Office Jeanie

    If you are working consistently on an ongoing basis with chronically disorganized clients, you are invited to participate in an informal support group for members of NAPO-LA.

    Our next meeting will be Thursday, November 9, 6-8:30 pm. The topic will be "Behavioral Techniques for our CD/ADD clients."

    Please RSVP to Jean Furuya
    Phone: 310-316-1753

    NAPO-LA in the Schools
    Deborah preferred

    More School Visits Planned

    By Deborah Kawashima
    and Director of Marketing

    Our first School Program Teleconference was held in August to discuss plans for the upcoming school year. Combining ideas from the two teleconferences (NAPO-LA group and NAPO-National group), we are implementing a new and improved program for organizing students and for bringing PO’s into the schools for this purpose.

    The classroom presentations will now include a hands-on activity for organizing the insides of student’s desks, plus posting of a classroom chart for tracking individual progress on staying organized. A follow-up visit will take place a few months later.

    PTA meetings have been added to educate parents about the classroom presentations and to show parents how we are teaching their kids to get organized in the classroom. This will give parents a better understanding of how they can help their kids at home, especially with schoolwork. Parents are given hand-outs with school and homework organizing tips. Included is an incentive coupon to hire a PO for their homes.

    We are now scheduling school visits (both public and private) for mid-October through November.

    Schools must commit to the full program; i.e., a PTA talk in October (before the presentation), the classroom presentation (GR 1- 5) for mid-October through early November, and a follow-up visit in January. We are encouraging PO’s to volunteer in a school in their area.

    To join the NAPO-LA in the Schools Yahoo! Group, click here:

    To volunteer, contact Deborah Kawashima

    NAPO-LA MET Program

    MET Program Classifieds

    Check out the MET Program Classifieds on the NAPO-LA website. They are an excellent opportunity for advertisers to share their knowledge and for others to investigate ways to move their businesses forward. If you would like to grow your business in 2006, check out the MET classifieds for an experienced organizer who can help you get to where you want to go! Click below for details:

    Met Classifieds

    “Get Organized Month” is a January Event
    GO Event 2006

    Start Thinking about
    "GO Month"

    By Joanna Sletten
    The Organized Experience
    and NAPO-LA Director of Membership

    “Get Organized Month,” also known simply as “GO Month,” was created by NAPO to focus not only on the benefits of getting organized but also on the tools and techniques necessary to achieve that goal.

    Every year for the past five years, NAPO-LA has chosen a local charity to spend a day organizing, streamlining and bringing order to its corporate office. In past years, NAPO-LA organizers teamed up at Project Angel Food, Habitat for Humanity, Break the Cycle, and the Los Angeles Free Clinic.

    In 2006, NAPO-LA chose the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) as their GO Month project. Twenty or so NAPO-LA members participated, volunteering their time and energy to organize the offices of the NCJW into a more efficient, well-organized workplace in which to better serve their clients.

    We organized their supply rooms, charitable stockpiles, offices, basement and call center. The day-long event was an amazing opportunity for me and other new members to give back to the community as well as to meet and network with other NAPO-LA organizers. When we divided up into our small group assignments, it gave me a chance to work on a team with members who had considerable experience, as well as others like me who were embarking on a new career.

    At the end of the day, we had a tour of the entire office to see what the other groups had done. The event was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate on organizing challenges and to be exposed to many creative approaches.

    I look forward to participating next year and tackling yet another great project! Hope to see you there.

    "Get Organized Month" will be held again in January 2007. To volunteer for this event, contact:
    Michelle Quintana


    Looking for guidance in your organizing business?
    This is the place!


    Mentoring, Education & Training Classifieds

    Organizers offering their services:
    Jean Furuya
    The Office Jeanie
    Sheila McCurdy
    clutter STOP
    Donna McMillan
    McMillan & Company
    Dolores Kaytes
    Kristine Oller
    Personalized Organization

    Office Systems



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    Get It Together LA! is your organizing and design resource.
    Call 323-525-0678 today.

    As an experienced organizing professional, Chris McKenry is able to provide uniquely designed systems to meet your client's needs. Our referral program gives NAPO-LA members 5% once the project is completed.

    Contact Chris McKenry at 323-525-0678 for more information.


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