What do the retail and hospitality industries have to do with keeping your home in order? A lot, if you’re Melissa Smith. She’s taking skills she honed in the corporate sector and putting them to work to help families keep their stuff—and their lives—in tip-top shape.

In your professional life, you’ve had a lot of experience in the corporate world. What inspired you to take a leap into organizing? I have a retail and hospitality management background. I opened one of the first Apple retail stores and was a director of operations and director of human resources for a hotel group. All of these positions required mad organization skills. I’ve always been an organized person, even as a child. I’ve organized myself, friends and family for years and loved it! I can’t believe I finally have a career doing something I am so passionate about.

You’re a working mom with kids of your own. What’s your organizing approach in your own home?

Life happens, which means messes happen! But when there are systems in place, it makes the clean-up much faster and easier! We have a great entry bench with hooks for coats and backpacks and shoe cubbies for the kids. Kid snacks are in bins in the pantry and fridge so they can get them themselves. I try to make things very simple and with very few steps so my kiddos will actually use them.

Those are great ideas for keeping a family organized. Do you have a system that wasn’t as successful?

When my kids were little, I tried tons of toy storage solutions: bins with pictures, rotating toys in and out, open totes, color coded boxes, etc. After years of struggling to get them to use the “systems” I put in place for them, I finally realized they didn’t care if their action figures and toy cars were in the same bin! So we switched to a big toy box, and it made clean up fast and easy.

What is your favorite organizing product to use, whether it’s in your own home or in a client’s?

I love baskets! They provide so many functions and are so pretty. Baskets corral stuff and look good doing it!

Do you ever design organization solutions with a personal touch for clients?

I love to repurpose something the client already owns and use it in a different way. For instance, I use one of my kid’s baby cowboy boots to hold my pens and pencils. It makes me happy to use it every day.

What is the most challenging part about being a liberator?

It’s all a challenge! But, that’s what makes it so fun and rewarding.

What is the most rewarding part about being a liberator?

The positive change you see in the client. We make such an impact on people’s lives, not just their homes.

Does any client stand out among the others?

I was working with a client who had been looking for her mom’s recipe cards for years! When she found them, she burst into tears. Her mother had passed away and finally, there in front of her, were her mom’s recipe cards in her own handwriting.