Delia Vandevelde, 21, knows a cluttered space sometimes means a cluttered mind. As the owner of the new organizing business D-Clutter by Delia, she wants to eliminate stress and help create a positive mental mindset while transforming spaces.
Rather than wait for the “perfect” time to start a business, Vandevelde launched D-Clutter by Delia the summer before her senior year of college during the COVID-19 pandemic. D-Clutter is a one-woman operation helping families and college students organize small and large spaces.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Vandevelde was always busy with activities. Having a full schedule made it necessary to plan and organize.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I would always line up my shoes and fold my doll’s clothes,” she said. “I am a very type-A person, and organizing just came naturally to me. So, naturally, I began to pick up and organize at friends’ houses without even noticing — haha oops. I’ve always been highly motivated and never liked to leave a task unfinished.”
Vandevelde knew she wanted a career in planning. She dreamed of owning her own organizing business, but never imagined starting it before graduating from college.
The University of Mississippi senior hospitality and management major with an emphasis in event planning has also served as the secretary of her sorority. She has seized opportunities in her field to build her resume and gain experience. One of her aspirations is to become a wedding planner. The summer after her sophomore year, she worked for Handley Breaux Designs, a full-service wedding and event planning company in Birmingham.
Vandevelde loved the behind-the-scenes aspects of wedding planning, watching everything come together for someone’s happy day. She developed a close relationship with Handley McCrory, owner and founder of Handley Breaux Designs,who became one of D-Clutter’s biggest supporters. McCrory encouraged Vandevelde to look into creating services, building a website and creating an Instagram page to market them.
“Delia has been an integral part of our team for two years, and has shown strong leadership and organizational skills,” McCrory said. “When Delia shared with me her idea of starting D-clutter, I enthusiastically said ‘Yes. Do it.’ Having the courage to start a business at a young age proves that you have a certain level of maturity to help you gain respect among peers in your business who may be older or have more experience.”
Vandevelde runs D-Clutter independently, but with a strong support system. Her father and his accountant helped create an L.L.C. for the company and went over the legal and financial basics.
“I realized starting a business is not as hard as you think it is,” said Vandevelde. “I knew I wanted to start D-Clutter now and make myself accountable to keep the business running in the future. I wanted to be able to pick up D-Clutter wherever I ended up living.”
Despite the start-up costs, it took only 19 days after launching D-Clutter for Vandevele to break even. She launched D-Clutter in Birmingham with four main service options: home organizing, the move-out package, the welcome home package, and the mini maintenance session.
Vandevelde was operating in Birmingham in the summer, mostly with family homes as her client base, but she had to adjust to a new market when she returned to Ole Miss her senior year.
“I’ve mainly tried to add different options that cater to the needs of college students now that I am back at school,” she said. “This decision was to make it more affordable and more comfortable for them.”
She added the college clean-up package to help college students organize and learn to maintain smaller, less permanent spaces. Client Miriam Kazi said Vandevelde organized her closet and made it easier to find things.
“She customized her organization to match my style and made sure it worked for me,” Kazi said. “Since Delia organized my closet, it has stayed organized and clean. I can find things much easier than I could before. She taught me her amazing organizational skills, and I use them every day.”
The shift in clientele was a challenge, but it also provided opportunities to expand services and build a new customer base. Vandevelde hopes to break into the family segment of Oxford soon.
She said no two jobs and days are the same. On building days, she focuses on boosting her presence through marketing, updating her website, sending emails to potential clients, and posting on Facebook. Organizing days are much more systematic.
“When I am organizing, if someone has hired me, I always go in for a consultation either the week before or a couple of days before to assess the area and then see if I need to order any products to help organize the area,” Vandevelde said. “I formulate a plan around what the client wants with notes and a schedule of what to do in order. This helps me make sure I check everything off and also helps me organize faster.”
Vandevelde cares about her client’s time, and believes the service makes her stand out from competitors. Because her business is small, she can be personal. She said she can ensure a quality experience for clients, her potential brand-builders.
“I want clients to recognize that my services are time-valuable so they are more likely to pass a good word along to their friends and recommend me to other people,” she said. “I think that differentiates D-Clutter from larger organizing service companies because the people I compete with charge a set price, not by the hour, and they take forever, so I’ve had people tell me that they have appreciated the quickness, but still have a quality service”
Vandevelde said she is one of the least expensive organizers in the Birmingham area. She considers her youth less intimidating for clients who may be unsure about using an organizing service. Her biggest advantage is her biggest challenge. As the sole owner and only person involved in D-Clutter, Vandevelde is responsible for every part of her business.
“The hardest part of my business is being solo,” she said. “Managing the social media, being the owner, being the only organizer, handling the finances can be daunting, but I get to make all of the decisions.
“It is very challenging, but also very fun being the only person in my business and doing everything myself. I’m just still new to being a business owner and getting adjusted. It is a process that I learn as I go.”
D-Clutter’s philosophy: “I’ll D-Clutter while you de-stress.”
“The biggest part of my business that I want to leave other people with is feeling clean and de-stressed after I have done my services,” she said. “I think often a cluttered house or anything out of order can cause a lot of anxiety for people, subconsciously.”
To Vandevelde, going into a place that is clean, tidy, and orderly creates calmness. She strives to replicate that atmosphere for her clients. D-Clutter is something she never thought she could achieve at a young age. However, it has been a major life lesson, and she wants others to push for their aspirations as much as she has.
“Don’t underestimate your dreams,” she said. “I didn’t think I could start a business at 21 years old, and I did. I still have a lot of growth for myself and for D-Clutter, but I would have never thought I could do it. No matter what your grades are or what your major is – even if it’s unrelated – you shouldn’t let stereotypes of other people’s opinions affect you.”
As a business owner and a college student, Vandevelde has many responsibilities, but keeping her life organized and her priorities straight is what she does best.