How Michele Vig Went from a Caribou Coffee Exec to a Marie Kondo-Approved Home Organizer

Michele Vig with Marie Kondo

by Jahna Peloquin (image courtesy Michele Vig)

Michele Vig’s career path couldn’t have began much further from the home and design space. A successful executive at Caribou Coffee for years, Vig was a rising star in the corporate marketing industry, even garnering a coveted spot on Ad Age’s 40 under 40 list in 2013. But reading the right book at the right time propelled Vig into an entirely new direction—and to start a second career as a home organization guru.

Earlier this year, she picked up a copy of The New York Times bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by famed Japanese organizational guru, Marie Kondo—and had her lightbulb moment. She decided to make the jump and bring her organization and design talents to a new industry.

For all her life, Vig had a passion for creating beautifully organized spaces, and regularly helped friends and family with cleaning and reorganization projects. Vig’s early professional career included retail marketing and design work—experience that allowed her to hone her talent for arranging spaces to be both functional and visually appealing.

A few “intense months” later, Vig became one of only 47 people in the world (and the only one in Minnesota) to be certified by Kondo and her patented KonMari Method™ of decluttering and launched her own business, Neat Little Nest, a decluttering and home organization service. Prices start at $500 for one five-hour in-home session. (Given the wide number of variables in a home organization project, it’s difficult to estimate exactly how many sessions are needed.)

I spoke with Vig about her career change, how she utilizes her decades of experience in the corporate world within her new business, and what make the KonMari Method™ unique from other organizational systems.

The walk-in closet at Michele Vig’s home

How did you first become interested in home organization?

I’ve been interested in home organization as long as I can remember, but my passion for creating artfully designed spaces that are as functional as they are beautiful was fostered once living on my own. It was my dream, much like that of my clients, to have a beautifully designed home. And to me, that meant the spaces behind my closet and cupboard doors deserved to be as lovely as the rest of my home.

What makes you excited about home organization?

What energizes me most about home organization is working with my clients to create functional organizational systems that help their lives run smoother, while paying attention to the design details of the storage solution bringing beauty to unexpected spaces.

When did you first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and how did it influence your earlier home organization methods?

I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up late in 2014. The biggest influence the book had on how I organized was Kondo’s focus on decluttering by category rather than by location. After I read it, it was obvious to me decluttering by category was a much better way and that I’d wished I thought of it sooner.

What does Marie Kondo’s technique bring that’s unique?

What I believe is unique about the KonMari Method™ is its focus on keeping items that bring you joy, rather than simply getting rid of stuff for other reasons. And that it brings permanent success because it allows you to find a place for everything you want to keep.   

A socks and underwear drawer at Vig’s home

How does your corporate career in marketing and design influence your new business?

For the last two decades, my corporate career focused on building brands and retail environments for some of Minnesota’s most beloved brands. Building retail brands, and the in-store customer experiences that create those brands, relies heavily on a keen eye for design and paying attention to the smallest details. Those elements have influenced my business greatly. What makes Neat Little Nest stand apart from other organization companies is the combination of the KonMari Method™ with artfully designed storage spaces.

How does one go about getting KonMari-certified?

To become certified in the KonMari Method™, I went through a rigorous process. First, I was accepted to attend an in-person workshop by submitting photos of my home storage areas—kitchen, dining, linens, etc.—and share why I was interested in becoming certified. Once accepted, I attended a three-day training where I learned each step of the KonMari process. After that, I conducted more than 50 hours of in-home tidying practice sessions reviewed and approved by Kondo’s team to ensure understanding of the process. The last step was a written, essay-style exam. Once I passed the exam, I became eligible for certification.

What is the process you go through when working with clients on home organization?

Using the KonMari Method™ as our guide, we first focus on decluttering the home one category at a time starting with clothes, followed by books and papers, then kitchen ware and food, then miscellaneous items and finally sentimental items like photos and letters. All items from the chosen category are gathered up from around the house and put into a pile. Then, the client touches each item one by one and decides if the item sparks joy. If it does, we keep it. If it doesn’t, we thank it for its service and put the items into different discard piles—sell, donate or trash. Once we’ve finished decluttering, I design beautiful storage systems and we place those into the home to organize everything my client has chosen to keep. The process helps them stay organized and tidy long-term.

What are some decluttering techniques that you teach your clients?

My three favorite decluttering techniques I teach my clients are: decluttering by category, honing their joy radar and learning the KonMari Method™ of folding clothes. Since most people have learned to declutter by room, I love teaching them the importance of decluttering by category and to watch them as they learn its transformational effect—it’s really astonishing when you see every single book or article of clothing you own in one pile in one place. I love helping my clients through this process because it puts the power of what they keep in their hearts rather than their minds. Honestly, your heart will tell you what you should do. Finally, teaching my clients the KonMari method of folding is something that has an instant effect on the space. A light bulb goes off for my clients realizing there is a better way to fold clothes—and it’s actually more fun.  Even the whole family gets into folding things properly.

Learn more about Neat Little Nest and sign up at neatlittlenest.com.

More examples of home organization from Vig’s home:

All images courtesy Michele Vig

 

 

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