Photography by John Shearer
Like so many of us, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin spent much of 2020 stuck in their houses. But, as the cofounders of the Nashville-based home organizing business The Home Edit, they’re a little better equipped to keep their families’ spaces in order. Their only problem has been finding the time, given how their company has taken off.
In September, Shearer and Teplin released their second New York Times best-selling book, The Home Edit Life, as well as their Netflix series, Get Organized with The Home Edit, which quickly became one of the streaming service’s most popular shows worldwide. “Both our professional and personal lives have a pre-Netflix and post-Netflix era,” Shearer says. “We are on calls all day, every day. We get emails from people in every country—could we open The Home Edit in Lebanon? We are like an organizing helpline for the entire world.”
Not bad for a venture that started over a casual lunch. Teplin and Shearer met five and a half years ago, after a mutual friend thought there might be synergy between the two.
Teplin, a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduate of UC Santa Barbara, had managed a high-end wedding invitation and greeting card store in San Francisco and started a business helping people complete creative projects (including organizing and party planning) prior to a 2013 move to Nashville, where her husband works as a promotions manager in the music industry.
Shearer, a Los Angeles native with a business administration and design management degree from Parsons School of Design, had worked largely in fashion and design (as well as doing social media for Nickelodeon and MySpace) before arriving in Nashville, where her husband works as a photographer, in 2015.
“We’d each wanted to start organizing companies on our own but hadn’t made the leap,” Shearer says. “Once we met, it just felt right. We’re both extremely organized people, obviously, but coming from different backgrounds, we balance each other in terms of style and utility.”
Indeed, their signature editing style blends classic, efficient functionality (Teplin) with aesthetically pleasing, design school–influenced presentation (Shearer). “From the beginning, our goal was to transform the way people think about their spaces,” Shearer says. “When spaces are user-friendly, efficient, and beautiful, people are more likely to maintain them—which is the whole point!”
People clearly got the point, as the business grew rapidly through word of mouth and social media. On The Home Edit Instagram account, which has more than 4.7 million followers, they offer tips and showcase their organizing systems: finished pantries with food sorted into matching containers labeled with Shearer’s perfect looping handwriting, compartmentalized bathroom drawers, kids bookshelves arranged by color, in rainbow order.
“What we love about organizing is, even if a project is really overwhelming, you can steel yourself in the process,” Shearer says. “It’s about choices, systems, and styles. And, as we often quote to our staff, from Finding Nemo, ‘You just keep swimming’—one step at a time.”
It didn’t take long for them to start swimming with some big fish. In 2016, they organized the playroom at Gwyneth Paltrow’s home in the Hamptons, which was featured in People magazine. That led to an ever-growing roster of celebrity clients: Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Dwyane Wade, Neil Patrick Harris, and more.
Throughout this rise, the duo has maintained a down-to-earth vibe. They still organize the homes of everyday people, for an hourly rate. And they often respond to questions on Instagram, where they also share images of their children (Shearer has a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, Teplin a 9-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter), their indulgences (Champagne for Shearer, candy for Teplin), and the side-by-side twin beds they prefer when traveling, even when staying at five-star hotels.
Since the onset of the pandemic, they’ve spent much less time visiting clients, instead focusing on virtual services, such as FaceTime consultations, which they say have increased tenfold.
“Because people have been home so long, it went from organizing as a hobby to I so desperately need help because I’ve never been home so much and my kids have never been home so much,” Shearer says. “Bringing order to a space feels really important when everything else is so out of control.”
Despite the chaos of the past year, Shearer and Teplin’s brand continues to grow. They’ve expanded THE to nine cities nationwide, with hopes to grow the business internationally.
Their line of organizing products (clear storage bins, stackable drawers, lazy Susans) is sold not only at The Container Store in the U.S., but in places ranging from Guatemala to the United Arab Emirates. And they recently launched Rume by The Home Edit, a home and personal care line.
“Organizing, especially now, is a mode of self-care,” Teplin says. “We’re not doctors or scientists, saving the world in those ways, but to make someone’s home and mental space that much better is so rewarding.”
5 Tips from The Home Edit
Need help getting your house under control? The Home Edit’s Instagram account is a font of tips, including the following.
- “In a closet, high shelving should be reserved for two things: items you rarely access … and items you want to display.”
- “In a playroom with extra deep drawers, magazine holders work great as inserts to contain and categorize toys.”
- “Having a system in your pantry is key … Almost every pantry can be categorized into six zones: breakfast, dinner, snacks, sweets, cooking, and baking.”
- “It’s all about the grab-and-go! For accessory stations [to store sunglasses, belts, jewelry, and more], use clear stackable drawers so everything is visible and easily accessible.”
- “If you’re wondering where an item fits in the rainbow spectrum, just go with the first color that catches your eye.”
Next Up: The Frequent Flyer: Mike Morgan