How Michaele Tocco of AspireTV's "Chaos to Calm: Detroit" Turned a Childhood Passion Into a Career

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Cover image for  article: How Michaele Tocco of AspireTV's "Chaos to Calm: Detroit" Turned a Childhood Passion Into a Career

At age four Michaele Tocco started organizing … and she never stopped. Fast forward to 2014 and that fastidious child had become a certified organizer and started her own business, Michaele's Precise Planning. Now, almost ten years later, Tocco has taken over as host of aspireTV's Chaos to Calm, which was filmed this season in her hometown of Detroit. "Honestly, I've had the [organizing] gift since I was a little girl," she shared during an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I've always been organized, and I know it sounds like [I was] this boring kid, but not at all. I love it!

"My grandmother would spoil us," she continued. "I had a big doll house, and like a million Barbies, so every morning after breakfast I would brush all their hair, dress them and neatly line them up. This was before I was even school-aged. My mom would ask if I was going to play with them? I'd be like, 'Play with them? Look how pretty they are and look how nice their house looks. I'm not messing this up.' For me, it was amazing because I loved seeing everything all put together. Even when I'd build stuff, I didn't want to take it down. I would find a space for it, so it sat there like a trophy."

During her 17 years in the financial sector, Tocco discovered just how handy that "gift" was. "Even within banking, all of my positions were organizational and management," she recalled. "My very first client was one of my bosses. She came to my desk one day and said, 'If I didn't know your numbers, I'd swear you did nothing all day, everything is so organized.' So, I showed her my filing systems, and everything I did to keep it clear throughout the day, so it didn't overwhelm me. I ended up doing her office and then some co-workers. One of my coworkers had just bought a home and asked me to do her kitchen for her and it just took off from there."

For Tocco, and anyone who shares a passion for organization, describing the thrill and sense of achievement gained from the process is tough to describe. "It's really a feeling of huge satisfaction," she said. "Becoming organized is something that you can learn, but when you're naturally like that … I tell everybody that I just love the process of seeing it come together. I've had clients burst into tears after working on a space. They're like, 'How did you see this?' I just see what it's supposed to look like. Sometimes with people, the whole process is overwhelming and frustrating. For me, I see the clutter -- and don't get me wrong, there have been spaces where anxiety has kicked in immediately -- but I can see the end. Working through the process and bringing it all together … is like a natural high."

One of those anxiety-creating spaces was highlighted this season on Chaos to Calm: Detroit, when Tocco was hired to coordinate and organize an upcoming move for The Parade Company, hosts to Detroit's annual Thanksgiving parade. With some 3,000 costumes, countless fabrics, and an array of floats, it was a massive job. "So yes, there was a high-anxiety level with that one," she recalled. "When we got the video of their space, and the volume of things, my first reaction was to say 'no'! I've been going to that parade since I was a kid, so it was a huge opportunity, but I had no idea what I was getting into. But after talking to the staff and hearing their needs, the challenge set in. All the ladies who helped were amazing. That was definitely the biggest job I've ever undertaken, and I'm looking forward to working with them again as I do enjoy a challenge."

It was through her business (and helpful social media organizational tips) that aspireTV discovered Tocco, inviting her to share her talents with viewers. "I thought the first e-mail about it was spam," she laughed. "So, I did reach out with a very short response. After I got a very detailed reply my team looked into it. That led to a lot of conversations, and in less than a month I had a signed contract. The fact aspire represents people of color, whether it's black, Hispanic, or whatever, just giving us a platform is huge. And the fact they were branching out the lifestyle platform to add organizing, made them a great fit. They recognize that people of color organize, too! They also embraced that I had a business before they found me and highlighted it. That isn't always the way, so them saying, 'Here's a person with a business and we think they do a great job. Here's a TV show for that' was huge!"

With the 13 episodes of her season completed, Tocco is back to focusing on her business and the upcoming busy period -- spring cleaning. "That is still a thing," she laughed in closing. "Both spring and New Year are busy organizing times as people are in the 'New Year, new me' mindset. If I'm invited back to do more by aspireTV I'm in, but for now, I'm happy seeing the faces on my clients and knowing I did something good for them."

Chaos to Calm: Detroitis telecast Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on aspireTV.

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