Many Professional Organizers begin their story by saying that they’ve loved to organize since they were little. This story is different. Sarah Gabriele was disorganized as a teen and worse as a college student. Her college roommate had to draw a line down the center of the room and ask that Sarah’s things stay on Sarah’s side. Her parents were dismayed by her disorganization and her friends tried (without success) to help. Sarah’s car, her room, every physical space was cluttered. A good friend once exclaimed to Sarah, “Even your STUFF has stuff!”
Sarah’s karmic retribution struck in 1997, when she was assigned to manage a CVS Pharmacy where the previous management team had been fired. The store was in complete chaos. The stock room was jumbled, the office had papers, supplies and employee files strewn about and the sales floor was nearly impossible to shop from. Sales were down and employees were stressed and miserable. Sarah appealed to a more experienced manager for advice and he said, “Start with your office. If your office is a mess, there’s no way to get the store in order.” Sarah bought a label maker on the way to work the next day and spent 10 hours organizing the office. There was a label for everything, even one for the label maker! It took a while to get the staff on board, but little by little, Sarah was able to spread organization through the store. Of course, once it was running well, she was promoted to a bigger (and messier) store!
During the next nine years, Sarah organized coworkers, offices and processes for Verizon. She did this so well that Verizon rewarded her efforts by sending her, in 2006, to New Delhi, India, to help launch a call center. Not only did this three-month trip hone her packing skills, it’s how she met her future husband, Richard! (But that’s a much longer story!) After launching the call center, Sarah bade farewell to India and returned home to New Jersey, where she completed an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management in 2008. After graduation, Sarah and Richard decided that they needed an adventure, so they put everything in storage and headed off to Richard’s native land (England) where they eventually settled in a little farming village just south of Scotland and got married in June 2009. After 18 month in England, Sarah craved sunshine, Richard wanted tall mountains, and both wanted a not-too-expensive, great-quality lifestyle that neither Britain nor the East Coast could provide (sorry, NJ). Colorado was the obvious choice!
Four Colorado houses later… Sarah and Richard own far fewer possessions. While unpacking their households during these last three moves, Sarah learned the value of only having possessions that are useful or beautiful. Everything else just becomes a hassle to tote from one house to the next. She invented “The Chopping Block,” which designated a corner of one room in the new house for anything that is broken, worn out, or no longer useful. Once all the unpacking was done, she and Richard reviewed the items and “rescued” anything that they wanted to keep. Everything else was “chopped” and donated to charity.
In 2011, Sarah met Sally Allen. They felt an immediate connection and spent hours sharing stories about their many, many relocations (both domestic and international) and about their passion for organizing and for providing outstanding services to their clients. Sally had decided that it was time to move closer to her three sons in California and wanted to sell her company to a suitable successor…and that’s how Sarah became the new owner of A Place for Everything®!
In February 2013 Sarah met her greatest organizing challenge when she and Richard welcomed baby boy Harry to the family. Over the last few years Harry has taught many lessons, including the importance of having systems in place (like how to handle outgrown clothes and toys) and the fact that sometimes even a Professional Organizer needs help from others to keep chaos at bay. Harry has also taught Sarah that the most important things in the world are not things at all. At the end of the day, the time we spend with family and friends, the places we get to see and the experiences we have are worth more than any possessions.