We Love Messes is helping people stay organized while they're stuck at home

Tammy Schotzko, certified professional organizer and owner of We Love Messes, is offering virtual organizing sessions to help during the pandemic. Submitted photo.

BEMIDJI -- As the temperature begins to rise and the snow melts away, it means spring is just around the corner. And for many, that also means it’s time for spring cleaning.

With people being cooped up more than usual for this time of year, some might be feeling the need for some interior organization.

Tammy Schotzko, a certified professional organizer, and the owner of We Love Messes in Bemidji, is making sure people have the resources they need to get organized in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a business owner, I’m trying to stay out there and help my clients in whatever way I can,” Schotzko said. “I’m going live on Facebook three times a week, I’m answering phone calls and getting things booked when I can.”

Though she can’t be out in the community in the same ways her and her team generally would be, she is still finding ways to connect with her clients.


“I have been doing virtual organizing sessions using things like Zoom and Facebook Messenger and Skype,” Schotzko explained. “So I can see the space, but I don’t necessarily have to be there or touch anything.”

She said they always had the virtual option available on their website, but never really promoted it until the pandemic began and physically being in people’s homes was no longer an option.

“I would much rather be there myself interacting with a client, that’s where I excel the most,” she said. “But since I stepped into more of the virtual stuff, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with it and kind of finding a rhythm.”

This week she did a five-part series on Facebook Live about home office help strategies.

The business

Schotzko explained that there are two branches of her business: residential cleaning and organizing. She said the organizing side of things generally starts to pick up more this time of the year.

“People are wanting to brighten up their spaces and declutter and get rid of things,” she said. “I don’t know, I think there’s like a sense of renewal that happens when spring rolls around.”


She added that she’s seeing that even more this year, because people are spending even more time at home.

“When I work with organizing clients we go in and look at the space, we strategize and do a DIY plan and then they tackle that plan,” Schotzko said. “They see the steps broken down and then they are able to accomplish it.”

She said sometimes clients will send her photos with updates on their progress as they work. “Sometimes I become a cheerleader in the background going, ‘yay, good job!’ Or sometimes it’s them getting stuck and me helping them get unstuck and moving forward,” she said.

When there isn’t a pandemic going on, she will go into people’s homes and work alongside the client. She explained that this can be especially helpful when going through old mementos or items from a loved one who has passed away.

“It’s super easy when you’re touching things to get lost in the story of how it came to be there and what it means,” she said. “I just say, ‘we are going to make a decision about the item that is in your hand and then we’re going to go to the next and then the next.’ It’s creating a space for them to have those feelings and process things, but also getting things accomplished at the same time.”

She said sometimes people are hesitant to tackle an organizing project because they are worried they will have to get rid of their things, or think it has to look a certain way.

“I do functional organizing,” she said. “It’s not about getting caught up in making it look like a Pinterest post, it’s about making it work for people in everyday life.”


A before and after photo from an organizing session with Tammy Schotzko of We Love Messes. Submitted photo.

For her, it’s about helping each person make their space work for them and how they live.

“There’s no right way or one way to go about things” she said. “Everyone is different and uses their space differently, so I want to support people in the way they need.”

Cleaning during COVID-19

The team is still offering cleaning services if no one is currently living in a home, such as if someone has purchased a house and is moving in.

“We also work with a couple of property managers in town doing their rental turnovers,” she said. “Between tenants we will go in and deep clean the place from top to bottom.”

There are also a number of cabin owners who come up to this area for the summer and have We Love Messes clean their homes before arriving. She explained that even though a handful of cabin owners have reached out wanting to book cleaning dates in May for their return to the area, she is only making tentative plans at this point.

“Because they are coming back from different states, they are all dealing with different restrictions and there are a lot of unknowns still at this point,” she said. “So I don’t want to lock people in when things can still change and nothing is certain right now.”

Schotzko explained that she belongs to several national cleaning organizations and that she always strives to stay up to date with current cleaning practices, but even more so lately.


“I’ve been taking COVID-19 safety and house cleaning classes and things like that,” she said. “I’m trying to stay abreast of what the best practices are in the field and what we are looking at when we go back to work full time -- what we need to be doing and be cognizant of.”

Pictured are We Love Messes employees Sheri Korsmo, left, and Kelli Erickson on a cleaning job, pre pandemic. Submitted photo.

She mentioned the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, and how there is an important educational aspect that people need to understand now more than ever.

“When we go in and clean we are basically doing grime and germ removal,” she said. “Sanitizing would be killing the germs and disinfecting would be using pesticide-grade EPA approved products that have to dwell on a surface for about 10 minutes before they do what they are meant to do -- and that’s not something we do as a residential cleaning company.”

She said that even though a lot of times people think they need that kind of full-blown disinfecting, most homes do not need that level of cleaning from just regular use.

“We want to be clear with our clients up front with what services we are able to provide,” she said. “If they want that level of disinfecting, there are many other commercial cleaning companies out there that can do those kinds of things.”

We Love Messes primarily uses eco-friendly cleaners that are safe for those using them and the clients. They also use microfiber cleaning cloths to help cut down usage of disposable paper products.


“I work very hard to stay on top of the current information in the cleaning and organizing industry,” Schotzko said. “It’s important to me that if there is information out there that we are getting it and using it.”

Last year Schotzko took a house cleaning technician class, which was a two-day course with a test each participant had to take and pass at the end to earn their certification.

“Anyone can grab a bucket and go clean,” she said. “But it matters to me that our clients know that with us there is a lot of experience and knowledge behind the processes that we use and there’s a reason for them.”

She said even though she’s not quite sure what the remainder of this cleaning season will look like, she is enjoying being able to help out in small ways and hoping it makes an impact.

“This is my skill set, this is what I’m good at,” Schotzko said. “So if I can use my skills to help people who are struggling, that’s what I want to do.”

Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or
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