- Janelle Cohen is a professional organizer who has worked with A-list celebrities.
- Cohen founded Straighten Up by Janelle and published The Folding Book in April 2022.
- She spoke to Insider about her beginnings and how she’s helping declutter celebrity homes.
Even before Janelle Cohen became a professional organizer to the stars, she had an innate talent for decluttering and streamlining spaces.
According to Cohen, her organizational prowess began when she was a very young child. She — like all of us — had a lot of downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to rip her childhood VHS tapes to DVD.
“I found a video of me when I was two years old,” Cohen, 29, said. “I was perfectly folding and ironing a pair of underwear with a toy iron – I was like, ‘what the hell?’ I immediately called my mom and asked her, ‘Do you remember that?’ once I took an iron.”
For Cohen, the video only confirms that she’s doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.
“It’s clear who I am and it just took the right circumstances for it to flourish,” she said.
As a youngster, she studied in UCLA’s theater program and dabbled in acting, but eventually found her way back to organizing. At 25, Cohen reorganized and created a system for her parents’ closet as a Mother’s Day gift, prompting other people to seek her insight. Soon the business took off and she founded Straighten Up by Janelle.
The venture set her on a successful path, allowing Cohen to work with clients such as the founders of ClassPass and Internet specialist Charlie D’Amelio. She has also published The Folding Book, in which she shares her organizing techniques and tips.
Cohen shared some organizing tips she’s picked up over the years in a conversation with Insider.
Cohen has her clients, including Jordyn Woods, “edit” their wardrobes to get rid of unnecessary clutter
Cohen worked with Woods, founder of Woods by Jordyn, to transform her basement into a walk-in closet reminiscent of Cher Horowitz’s closet in “Clueless.” She knows celebrities tend to hoard a lot of products, so she helps them get rid of things they don’t need.
“I come in once a season with Jordyn and we edit,” Cohen said. “We go through every single outfit she has. There’s a lot of things where we say, ‘Okay, we’ll keep it for another winter, and if you don’t wear it this winter, we’ll get rid of it.'”
Cohen said that editing the closet can help people feel excited about the space again.
“I remember all the details,” Cohen said. “I edit with her so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed and her wardrobe excites her and feels manageable.”
She said every closet should have “prime real estate” for a customer’s clothes
According to Cohen, prime real estate refers to “the things that you have really easy access to, so you can immediately grab them.”
“Then we have shelves that we have to put on a stool for hanging space, which is not as accessible. I would call that less prime real estate,” she added.
Cohen recalled working with podcast host and author Jay Shetty to separate his wardrobe.
“With Jay, he likes suits and fancy t-shirts, so this will be a premium property. Anything he doesn’t wear that much doesn’t need premium property,” she said. “That’s just how I do it. I’m not going to organize based on looks. I’m going to do it based on life. Otherwise, it’s just not going to be sustainable.”
When it comes to organizing a space for couples, Cohen said it can help to keep each person’s belongings separate, even if they’re in the same closet
Cohen knows firsthand that coexistence can be difficult.
“I live with my amazing boyfriend and we have the smallest closet ever,” she told Insider. “Every once in a while he’ll say, ‘Hey, your clothes are moving into my space,’ and I’ll have to reevaluate.”
This is a hurdle I deal with while working with couples. In the past, she has worked with actors Matthew Noska and Inana Sarkis, in addition to Shetty and his wife.
“At least once a week they tell me I’m a marriage counselor. Even if you’re very similar, even if you’re kindred spirits meant to be great communicators, it’s very difficult,” Cohen said. “I approach everything as individuals. So we understand what space is for which person.”
She added: “Person A will never make decisions for Person B and Person B will never make decisions for Person A.”
Cohen also has experience working with athletes, who she advises to avoid using 100% of their closet space
While larger sizes aren’t an obstacle for Cohen, she admits there’s a difference between a size 13 and a size 20 shoe.
“I always tell people I can’t make more space, so you have to have the right amount of space for the things you have,” Cohen said. “At 75% or 80% capacity, you always have a buffer and room for Tetris dead space.”
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