Please introduce your business, Design. By The Duchess of Declutter. Please tell our audience what you specialize in, how long you’ve been established and what your title is.
My name is Brooke Milton. I’m the owner and head rump shaker of Design. By The Duchess of Declutter. I’ve been eradicating clutter since I was a toddler but formally established my business in 2010. I recently incorporated interior design and custom woodworking into my business to complete the design trifecta.
When and how did you first get introduced to the world of home organizing? (ie. family history, schooling, mentors, etc)
I’ve been very open about my OCD in all of its messy/beautiful glory. I vividly remember a shift when I was 4. While it has manifested itself differently throughout my life, I’ve channeled my energies into a business for the past 12 years. It’s literally in my blood.
What sets you apart from the competition?
I think every organizer brings her own lens, creativity and passion to a project. For me, it’s about the education. I want to leave my clients with tools to maintain the systems I create. That’s so important to me. I live and breathe order. My brain works in symmetry. I’m just wired differently.
What was the inspiration behind forming your own business as opposed to working for someone?
I’m a control freak. I can micromanage a micromanager. I learned very early on that I like to take the reins.
How long did it take to open your doors from the start of the planning process to opening day?
Not very long, actually. I was lucky enough to be mentioned in Daily Candy, a Chicago-based newsletter targeting young, urban women. Word-of-mouth is the best possible referral. It took one client.
What has been your proudest moment?
I can’t pick one. I’m blessed to have many. Seeing my clients’ faces after a space is completely transformed will never get old. The instant satisfaction is mutually gratifying. I thank my lucky stars every day. I have amazing clients who have wholeheartedly trusted me with the most intimate parts of their houses and their lives. I’m extremely proud to be where I’m at today and grateful for what’s ahead of me.
How are you dealing with the work/life balance? Any advice for future entrepreneurs out there?
If I’m being honest, I’m a workaholic. I’m chasing that balance though, and I’ll eventually get there. My advice, however, is to take on the projects that truly fuse your creativity and passion. Be more selective in what you accept and what you give of yourself. There are not enough hours in the day. Choose them wisely.
What has been the most difficult road block you’ve encountered?
Not working during the pandemic was challenging and disheartening. The uncertainly of whether I could go back into peoples’ houses was paralyzing at times. Trying to stay relevant, virtually, was tough too. I connected with some amazing businesswomen and was able to participate in Zoom seminars about decluttering, spring cleaning, paper management and moving. I also started an Instagram account, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed cultivating.
What’s on the horizon (with respect to your endeavor; future plans or goals)?
That’s a good question! When my husband and I came up with the idea to start a custom woodworking business (made by jbm) under mine in 2020, we had no idea where we’d be a few months later. After two years, I’m blown away at what we’ve created and accomplished. I’ll never give up professional organizing. Some of those projects have naturally incorporated interior design and woodworking. I see that design component expanding. I’m not sure how yet, but there’s so much potential. Design. By The Duchess of Declutter is the umbrella. Let it rain!
That’s amazing! So many homes in the North Shore are near a century old and lack the storage most home buyers are looking for now. Tell us more about your custom woodwork solutions.
Who would you like to thank for making the formation of your business possible and why?
My dad. Hands down. He always told me to confront adversity. That lives with me every day. He’s one of the hardest working people I know. Nothing is given to you. I hustle every day, and I’ll never stop.
Ready to tackle the next project in your home? Contact Brooke!
Phone: (312) 330-2400
Hours: By Appointment Only