I was recently interviewed by Gentry Magazine for what I thought would be a small profile about me as a small business owner but after publication I found out that I made it on the A List which is so exciting!
Much of my interview ended up in the feature but just in case you are digging for more information on how I got started in this business read more from the Q & A below…
Tell us a bit about your own personal background, and how you got involved in this business?
I’ve always had a knack for organizing. I was often a popular play date as a child because I would organize and cleanup my friends bedrooms. Later, as an adult while in Law School, I started organizing with clients. Organizing helped me keep my anxiety from Law School under control. I realized I loved creating solutions for organizational problems but not necessarily legal problems. I enjoy solving problems varying from out of control closets to estate conflicts with beneficiaries that don’t get along.
At the time, a career in professional organizing didn’t exist. But I followed my gut that professional organizing was both my passion and something I could turn into a successful business. I worked as a personal assistant in Ann Arbor followed by 3 years as an Operations Manager for a private school in Chicago. On nights and weekends I worked with my organizing clients honing my craft. When my husband and I moved to California in 2009, I took the opportunity to focus 100% on professional organizing as my full time job. I hired my first employee in 2011 and now I have 12 employees and we work on 2-4 projects a day.
Do you have any especially interesting anecdotes or memorable stories from your time in the estate business to share with readers?
Each time I meet with a family for an intake consultation, a new unique and memorable story begins. I learn about the history of the estate, or the stories or drama between the beneficiary(es) or the treasures inside the estate. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, from horse-drawn sleighs in a Los Altos hay loft to a family of 7 in a 2 year legal battle over contents in Atherton, something new comes. That’s what keeps me opening that front door for consultations each and every week.
How have estate sales changed and evolved over the years?
For me, technology has played a huge role. It’s given me opportunity to showcase my marketing and photography skills and create a constantly changing visual portfolio for future potential clients. It also gives us the opportunity to increase our online sales through social media platforms.
We’ve created a loyal following of estate sale shoppers that shop multiple times a week. The Kuzak’s Closet shopping community has been cultivated over the last 8+ years through unique shopping opportunities 2-3 times per week. Our shoppers love the opportunity to visit with the consistent Kuzak’s Closet professional organizing staff, to tour a unique Silicon Valley estate, and to take home treasures that will only be available for sale at that shopping opportunity. I love our shopping base because they buy everything from half-used windex to highly sought after midcentury furniture. Everyone has a story and we love being a part of that.
Sites like Ebay have also weakened the market for certain estate items that used to be hot sellers. Anything that was formerly collectible (like hummels, Lladros, collector plates) have little to no resale value. But, items that were never meant to be collected like ephemera (matchbooks, invitations, etc.) are highly collectible now and popular at our sales.
Is there anything that differentiates the estate organizing business in the Bay Area from that of other parts of America?
The pace of our real estate market in the Bay Area makes a big difference. Our clients want properties to be cleaned out and on the real estate market as fast as possible. The market is strong here 365 days a year unlike other parts of the country that only have seasonal activity.
The estates here are not generally as old as other parts of America. We often don’t deal with true antiques. In the Bay Area, Midcentury modern is hot, vintage technology like ham radio equipment and electrical engineering parts, ephemera from Lockheed Martin, NASA and other historic local companies are highly sought after. That’s what makes the Bay Area unique. We don’t do many barn sales with vintage farm equipment or antique furniture that you might get in other parts of the country. We would love to see those types of estates but with the land development here they don’t come around that often. We also sell a lot of cars that are in amazing condition because of the great weather we have in Northern California. Cars are a hot draw whenever we can sell them. Vintage cars are so much fun too, they bring in a great nostalgia and we love to see the new owner drive away appreciating the car as much as the original owner did.
With spring cleaning season upon us are there any tips on how best to organize and declutter?
There’s a popular misconception that donating an item means that you are throwing it away. When you let something go and give it to a charity for donation, you are letting the item be repurposed and loved by someone new.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Choose a zone to tackle and work clockwise or counter-clockwise around the zone so you can measure your progress at all times. Have a pile for items to donate, items to recycle and items that need to be thrown away. Schedule time to follow up on the piles to minimize the clutter from trickling back in.
Anything else that you would like to mention/highlight that may be relevant?