A former actor and set designer, Maggie Brittain, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, considers herself a born organizer. After working in a business in closet design, she realized clients were looking for more than just a pretty closet—they needed the skills to live clutter-free and more organized, something Maggie could help them with. So she switched gears and, in February 2020, launched Chesterfield Organizing Company, offering in-person professional home and office organizing services. A month later, the pandemic happened, and Maggie took it as an opportunity—with more people at home and an exploding real estate market, Maggie’s organizing system was in hot demand. Since then, her success has lent itself to a spin-off online, offering a DIY program, accountability, and coaching for clients who don’t live in Central Jersey and a podcast. We caught up with this very busy Chesterfield mom of 4 to find out how the pandemic helped launch her business, the best place in your home to start the decluttering process (hint: it’s in your drawers), and the 300-year-old inn that’s her favorite hangout for pizza and wings.
Maggie Brittain, the owner of Chesterfield Organizing Company and our NJ Mompreneur of the Week.
Tell us a bit about your family and background. I grew up in Pittsburgh and was working in New York when I met my husband, Peter Brittain, while visiting family in New Jersey. We live in Chesterfield with our children, Pearce, 16, McCullough, 14, Quinn, 12, and Weston, 10. We settled here because my husband’s family business is nearby, and we love the small-town feel. This is our second old home remodel in the same town—we’re suckers for big projects!
Please share your path to entrepreneurship. I’d been working in New York acting a bit and doing Live with Regis and Kelly for their merchandise, and then before my first child was born, I went back to school to get certified as an elementary teacher but then spent time at home raising my kids. Eventually, I started doing patio design with my husband’s company—I realized how much I enjoyed visual problem-solving and space planning. I started as a closet designer, and the more I was in people’s homes, basements, and closets, I realized most of my clients needed much more support. I started to think about professional organizing—people have always asked me for advice on organization and paring down because it’s just how I’ve always lived my life. Eventually, I left the closet company and opened up my own business in February 2020, a month before the pandemic temporarily shut down in-person businesses. Though it seems like it would have been the worst time you could open up a business, that “bad” timing allowed me to work on the company, even if I couldn’t work in it just yet. Within a few months, I was ready to go and very busy, partly because the real estate market was exploding and because people were spending so much time at home and knew the importance of having a well-organized space for work and home life.
How has your business changed since you first launched it? The pandemic made the importance of alternative income streams clear, so about a year ago, I added an online component to my business. In addition to my in-person organizing, there’s a membership program for those looking for accountability, community, and coaching and a 12-week small group program with customized support, action steps, and mindset shifts.
Our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, in a beautiful custom closet, she designed and organized.
Specifically, how does your family help you support a more clutter-free lifestyle? Children always need a little extra encouragement, but the earlier you can incorporate living with less clutter, the easier it is for them to start creating habits and routines that support a more clutter-free life. With my children, we’ve always had frequent reviews of what we own, and we donate frequently. Whenever we bring anything new into our home, it comes from a “what do we really need” mentality rather than a “what do we really want” frame of mind.
The world seems to be made up of two types of people, those that save everything and those that constantly purge. What small steps can a saver take to become more comfortable with getting rid of things? If you’re not hiring someone to help you pare down, it can be a very tiring process, both mentally and physically. It’s best to break it down into small chunks, and you’ll see growth and pick-up speed as time goes by and the decisions start to get easier. If you’re holding onto too many things for sentimental reasons, I recommend you start your decluttering process with unsentimental things like your junk drawers and linens. The more you declutter and recognize how good it feels to live with less, the more your brain will shift and allow you to take action more easily. For the items that you find extra hard to get rid of, set them aside in a basket or on a shelf and check in with yourself regarding these items every few weeks. Over time you’ll see that memories are internal, not stored in items, and one or two things can represent that memory instead of holding onto everything affiliated with it. Letting go of things is something that comes with time and practice. A favorite quote of mine is, “Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions,” and it’s so true with every form of clutter, including visual clutter, social commitment clutter, and emotional clutter. Know that it takes dedication to recognize and create space in all areas of your life.
After a particularly stressful day, what’s your favorite way to de-stress? Sitting on the front porch, catching up with my husband, and watching the kids in the front yard—it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon or an evening. I find my home reenergizing when I know my space is in order.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? My husband (along with two partners) is opening Bent Iron Brewing in Hamilton this October (of 2023), and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s a craft beer brewery on the family farm with lots of family-friendly space, indoor and outdoor seating, and live music. I can’t wait! And Terra Salon in Allentown is my go-to and perfect whenever I need a lift because it’s such a positive, supportive environment and a very friendly place. I get a cut and color approximately every three months and always leave there feeling great. For a bite, we’ll head to a historic spot in town, The Chesterfield Inn, a go-to for pizza and wings.
Please share some places in NJ that you and your family enjoy. The Jersey Shore, specifically Long Beach Island (LBI), is a big part of our world, where we enjoy visiting with friends. Another favorite is Atlantic Highlands, where my eldest son does a lot of fishing. We’re a very active family, too, and though we do a lot of our hiking in Vermont, we also enjoy hiking Washington Crossing when we want to be closer to home.
What’s your best piece of advice for a mompreneur just starting out? Keep moving forward and learning as you go but realize that everyone’s business is different, and you should stay true to yourself and put your own spin on it. Also, find support from other mompreneurs. Finding others doing things you want to do can keep you motivated, inspired, and accountable.