Inspired by Marie Kondo, this woman entrepreneur is helping Indian households declutter and tidy up
Indian households are no stranger to overflowing wardrobes and Rohini Rajagopalan has experienced it at close quarters as a professional organiser and founder of Organise With Ease, a Mumbai-based startup offering organising and decluttering service.
Five years ago, Rohini didn’t care for makeup products beyond kajal and about three shades of lipsticks. Today. the marketing professional-turned entrepreneur can not only point products like bronzer, highlighter, or setting spray apart but also arrange them in an “orderly flow.” She has helped about 120 houses declutter and organise their interior space across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune.
The idea was to help those who live busy and active lives looking to have their spaces more organised. The startup caters to people from different walks of life from housewives to women CEOs and HNIs with elaborate walk-in wardrobes owning over 50 pairs of shoes.
She says, “It is important not to judge people for their choices and lifestyles because everybody is different. Instead, my job is to make their lifestyles – however they are – more comfortable and easier.”
In 2016, when Rohini took a sabbatical after having her second child, she came across Marie Kondo’s book on organising spaces to spark joy. “I thought this can't be a profession but learnt that there are about 20,000 professional organisers in Australia and at least 20 to 30 organisers in each US city,” she shares.
After a year of reading, pursuing online courses related to decluttering and connecting with professional organisers around the world, she experimented with her friends’ living spaces and founded her startup in November 2017.
Although she was initially sceptical whether the concept would work in India, she noted changes in her friends' shopping patterns who turned more towards their wardrobes than shopping for every other occasion. This boosted her confidence and she began marketing her startup on social media sites and WhatsApp.
Despite staying updated with latest trends, she says the Indian way of consumption and usage is very different. The key to Rohini’s way of decluttering is understanding whether one enjoys using the product more than its presence sparking joy in their lives.
“It is like a buffet. While there is a great variety on the table, you gravitate towards some of your favourite foods. Similarly, we help people identify their favourites when it comes to clothing and personal belongings,” she explains.
The startup charges Rs 3,000 per hour with most projects taking an average of two to three days of eight to 10. She also checks in on some customers once or twice a year to ensure the work is kept up.
A team of five, she says her biggest professional win was helping a client who used to carry excess baggage of 40 to 60 kgs while travelling. “During a summer trip to London after decluttering her home, she told me she didn’t shop because she now felt she had everything. And this was someone who used to buy everything from lotions to hairclips from London.”
Growth and challenges
With restrictions on travelling during the lockdown, the startup began offering virtual consultation. Rohini believes the past year has been a chance to pause and look at opportunities within the market.
The entrepreneur has also designed and launched a range of organising products, based on the limitations she understood while working on projects. “We didn’t bother about existing products and used the time to launch products that were missing in the organising and storage space. Even if they don’t sell, it will always be of use in my own projects,” she quips.
This expansion to products has seen the startup reach places like Assam, Ludhiana, and Jalandhar, among others. Occasionally, Rohini conducts workshops on organising and decluttering as well.
As the business was started on social media during her sabbatical from work, Rohini says it was not capital intensive. The later initiatives that followed were funded through revenues.
As India is a nascent market, many including her parents do not fully understand the profession. In the last three years, she has been constantly educating people that her work does not entail jadhu pocha (cleaning the house)” but decluttering. Rohini is confident people will come around and the startup aims to expand its services to more cities across India.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan