MEET VICKY SILVERTHORN: A PROFESSIONAL HOME ORGANIZER GURU
Vicky Silverthorn was a PA for ten years to celebrities as Lily Allen before she realized how happy it made people having an organized home. In 2010, she created her own business – “You Need a Vicky” – as a Professional Organizer who focuses on the physical organization and decluttering of people’s homes.
“As a company, I like to think we improve the quality of people’s lives by helping them let go of what they don’t need in their homes. I believe that your wellbeing starts at home; if your home is in shape, other elements of your life will follow”, she tells us.
We met in 2017 and Vicky had just launched her book “Start With Your Sock Drawer” and I interviewed her about it in a charming apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. With a contagious laugh, Vicky has not only made me coffee but taught me how to fold my clothes properly. Four years later… I still do it HER way and I get to ask questions again.
In this exclusive interview, the Professional Organizer talks about her versatile and revolutionary organization methods, her new company and how COVID-19 impacted her life.
What’s your motto?
“Let It Be”. You can’t control what other people are thinking
What’s a typical work week like?
Mondays I spend with my daughter all day and we have fun!
Tuesdays I work all day – every second I have childcare I sit at my laptop and try and be as productive as possible (not possible without my PA Laura who again I am mentioning because she deserves it!)
Wednesdays again I see friends and spend with my daughter
Thursdays are again for work. I fit consultations in the diary whenever possible.
Fridays are for getting as much done as possible in the morning and then daughter time in the afternoon.
I work evenings as and when needed of course but ideally I do this as little as possible.
My idea was always to create a business that would run itself when I needed to be a Mum and it’s worked well, however it doesn’t stop you wanting to keep on top of things and know what’s going on/ do things yourself still.
The importance of failure: Share a short story of how failing at something led you to succeed or learn a valuable lesson.
I had a business selling on designer clothing my clients were wanting to sell. At the same time as we did, other companies started doing the same thing except with a lot more investment. We simply couldn’t compete and I also realized how retail was a very different industry to the one I was used to! We closed it around 4 years after we had opening it.
I learnt not to take on too much. That I didn’t have to start every business idea I thought of. Hard for someone whose brain is constantly buzzing!
My PA Laura who is young, hard working, strong, ambitious and gives everything her absolute all! She has life right and a great balance.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t always listen to others! Go with your gut feeling. There were many people who thought a decluttering business in 2010 would not work. I used the negative energy to push myself hard and make my idea work – and it really did.
You cannot have a successful business without working hard. You have to be aware you are going to work all hours if you want to make it work – initially at least. Try and find something you have a passion for in some way shape or form and that will help.
What’s the greatest fear you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?
The fear of failure. But somehow I knew YNAV was going to work so I made sure I put any fear to the back of my mind.
Who are your female role models?
I love Holly Tucker who started a very successful business called Not On The High Street. She uses her success to help and encourage many others on a big level and that is what I think makes her so wonderful!
Anya Hindmarsh also I think is wonderful. Brilliant and unique ideas she makes come alive and a lovely human being also.
What are your goals for the future?
For my business to keep running how it is. I used to think I would expand or franchise but I’m not so sure now. I am happy having a business than runs well and we are in such a great flow with it. It works and our clients are amazing. I don’t want to sacrifice time with my daughter right now but who knows in the future.
I love working with businesses and doing collaborations – I’d love to grow in that way for sure.
How do you want to help move humanity forward?
I want to help people realize they do not need to have everything they see or everything they like or admire. I want to help with sustainability and waste. I want to get the message across that having an organized home you are in control of and love being in can help lessen your desire to keep on buying. Stuff does not make you happy. It really doesn’t. I didn’t buy any clothes for a whole year and it was liberating and much easier than people would imagine!
YOU NEED A VICKY: ORGANIZING 101
Can you describe your organizing process/approach?
Practical and uncomplicated. Back to basics and doable.
What are the 3 most important aspects of starting a successful, new professional organizing business?
- Adapting yourself to each individual client, as everyone is so different and no two jobs are the same
2. Realize everything we do is a guideline and not a rule.
3. Have a great system in place to run your business (there is more admin that you may think).
(I run an online course called How to become a Professional Organizer where I explain absolutely everything)
How can I identify my personal organizing style?
I think you recognize within your surroundings what helps you stay calm, happy and less stressed in your home and then you put the work in to make it better if you know you aren’t yet where you want to be.
5 tips for a perfect wardrobe spring clean.
- Remove items you only wear on holiday and put them in a separate box so they don’t take up room in your daily wardrobe space
2. If you struggle for space store seasonal items elsewhere (under a bed neatly folded or in another cupboard or space)
3. Make decluttering continuous and have a bag on the back of your door to put things in if you try them on and realize you no longer like them
4. Use the saying ‘Can I live without this?’ when you are making decisions to keep or get rid of clothing.
5. The less you have the easier it is to control. I also believe decisions as to what to wear will become easier and less choice will mean you wear more of what you have.
5 game-changing items/tips to organize your home office.
- A Bisley 10 drawer multi-drawer is the key to paperwork in my opinion. Stripping back the complication of your usual filing.
2. Remove any paperwork from your immediate space which you don’t need to access and can archive away (those pieces you don’t want to go completely as you may need to refer back to one day) Label them, archive and make a note on the box as to what is in there.
3. Reduce stationary as much as possible. It’s amazing how little we use in comparison to ten years ago!
4. Have drawer/ cupboard dividers and categorize/ label the storage containers so items are easy to access but just as importantly easy to put away.
5. Have an ‘action’ tray. One tray which has everything you need to respond to/ look at/ action etc in it. Action is a far more positive word than ‘to-do’.
What’s the most optimal way to pack a suitcase to prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled?
I believe keep packing simple. I know people roll and put everything in packing cubes however I like to put in packing cubes the smaller items which I know will move around such as underwear, chargers, bikinis etc and then all other items can be folded neatly.
I use a rectangular clear washbag which slots into my case (rectangles/ squares are easy to leave a space for to be packed last minute.
If I put things in small bags, I always make sure the bags are different to each other, so they are instantly recognizable.
Oh, and I always always use shoe bags because of hygiene but notice many people don’t! I also always take a bag for damp swimwear just in case!
With lockdown, people got more minimalist or the opposite?
I think both if I’m honest depending on their situations. People with more time seem to have worked on their homes a lot more but families who have had to home school it’s been a lot harder for.
Cluttered surroundings have a deep impact on not just the physical but also on the mental and emotional well-being of a person. Comment.
Yes definitely. Everytime we look/ glance around we are taking in every single item around us even though we may not realize it – it’s automatic.
With clutter it’s like a physical to-do list we are looking at every day. It weighs on our minds and studies have shown it can impact our moods, anxiety and stress levels and even effect our relationships. It can pull down our energy levels and productivity. Organizing is much more than making things look pretty – it’s a massive part of our well-being and helps us feel more control of our homes and in-turn our lives.
What are some of the mistakes that professional organizers notice but other people don’t?
I think I notice how to make better use of space and definitely how to make a space flow better. Often when people move into a home it is where the problem starts. They unpack quickly meaning to do it properly at a later date – this later date never happens because we are all so busy. Life is busy and it takes so much longer than people think to completely redo a whole room or space and start again.
Tell us more about this product.
My latest business is called Labology 3 (created in the first lockdown with two wonderful business partners). It is a sanitizer with no alcohol made from an amazing ingredient called HOCl that you can spray on skin, fabrics and hard surfaces (it’s what they were using in fogging machines). I want alcohol sanitizers to become used less and this to take over because it doesn’t cause the irritations that others do. I believe it should be in every child’s school bag to save their little hands too!
It kills 99.9999% bacteria. 99.99% viruses including coronaviruses.
What’s the science behind this formula?
PREMIUM HYPOCHLOUS ACID HOCI • Gentle yet powerful, Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is made in our bodies by our immune system. It’s produced to fight off infections.
IT’S A DISINFECTANT THAT WORKS • Some disinfectants take around 30 minutes to work. But they won’t tell you that. HOCI works on contact, kills 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses and doesn’t need to be rinsed. It’ll even deodorize your fabrics.
What have you been doing with your time during the lockdown phase?
In the first lockdown I thought of the new business after catching Covid and then having a bad case of mumps straight afterwards. I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks and then my brain started working again. (smiles)
What has lockdown taught you in terms of personal and professional life?
That I love nature and being outdoors more than anything. That it isn’t all about where you are and more about who you are with. That I miss travel and can’t wait to go away with my daughter and show her some of the world (even if it’s just a local holiday!)
What will you do after the pandemic is completely over?
Great question – I think we will all get used to things being ‘normal’ again faster than we may think perhaps. I plan to continue to work hard, travel, nothing elaborate but make sure I go on lots of family adventures for sure. Adventures can be big or small especially in a child’s eyes.
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