Friends have been calling Mike Mawhinney a neat freak for years. “I would walk into a friend’s place and go, “okay, what’s up with this closet?” and proceed to start helping them organize it,” he says with a laugh. When thinking of a name for his business he decided to lean into the freak part of it – “wanting to change that, reclaim and reframe it into a positive.” That being a thriving new business.
Meet “The Neat Freak”. Mawhinney has taken something that comes naturally to him – helping people organize their lives – and turned it into a fulfilling job where he streamlines homes and workspaces to give clients their time back and allow them the freedom to live their best lives. Being one of six siblings who moved several times, Mawhinney has learned how to edit. “When I move, I’ve taken on the sense of “what’s important to me? What’s going to come with me? What’s not going to come with me? What are the things I want to bring into my home? What are things I want to make space for?” And I began to feel passionate about turning this into a business.” After assisting his sister on several projects (she has an organization business in Florida) Mawhinney gained experience and his passion grew. “I really love it. I love the experience, I love the gratification of going through the process and seeing clients amazed at the end of their projects. I just love that sense of helping somebody.”
He loves it so much, he says he can barely sleep when he takes on a new client or project. “I’m so energized by the process!” He genuinely enjoys it but says it’s the people that make it all worthwhile. “Literally just the sigh of relief from a busy, working mom or from somebody’s grandmother who can’t empty out the garage – those are the kinds of things that I really love about doing this. It changes people’s lives, even in whatever small way I can – the smallest things make the bigger impacts.”
Mawhinney hails from NYC and grew up mostly on Long Island. He’s always loved animals and thought he might be a veterinarian but he eventually found his way to the arts. He studied at Columbia College Chicago for fine arts, returned to New York to attend Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design and got his first job designing in the kitchen and bath industry. He thrived in that world for 15 years, during which he made the move to Los Angeles in 2014, in part for the weather. “I had visited California a number of times growing up and always felt that I should be here, that I wanted to be here. So I saved as much money as I could, packed everything I could in my car and moved out here with a friend who was in the same boat. We just figured it out when we got here.”
With ideas of Neat Freak in his head, Mawhinney finally took the leap of faith and launched his business in 2023. While he does have future visions of developing affordable organizational products based on his experience with clients, right now his focus is growing the business and bringing on a team to handle bigger jobs and ongoing, simultaneous projects. And what exactly does he do? “Pretty much anything, top to bottom residential. So, kitchen, bathroom, pantry, basement, garage, attics, outdoor sheds, home offices, work spaces, even small businesses”, he explains. “I also offer move management services where I coordinate with preferred movers, I help you edit, declutter prior to packing – I’ll actually pack, coordinate with movers and unpack and set you up in the new place.”
Again, editing is key. “People just don’t know and so they just bring everything and think they’ll deal with it later. And then they never deal with it.” He strongly advises his clients to simplify and edit before the move. “Because what ends up happening is they just put it in another garage and it ends up in more boxes on top of other boxes in a closet or basement or garage.”
Relatively new to the area, Mawhinney tells us what he has noticed is “Community, which is something new for me. Even within the building that we live in, everybody’s involved with each other. And it’s a very friendly environment, which coming from places that I come from, that was always kind of missing – a sense of community, a sense of togetherness. It’s a totally different vibe than what I’m used to. And it’s so walkable. We love it here – it’s so pretty. And everybody’s so nice!”
“I’m just excited. I truly love doing this. It really fills me. And I’m excited to get started with people locally.” One gets a sense that Mawhinney has found his calling. “A driving force in wanting to do this is – everybody’s lives are so busy – so whether it be work or family or a combination of whatever it is, I love to give people their time back through decluttering and organization. It makes such a difference – space is finite, time is finite, so it’s meaningful for me to be able to provide just a little bit of time for you to do the things you want to do.”