“I want to put pride back into this industry, because caring for people’s homes is incredibly healing and important,” says Aurielle Sayeh. The 35-year-old creative director, talent consultant, and DJ founded her New York City–based cleaning company, Moody Maids, last year, with a focus on wellness and restorative practices. “This job,” she says, “has been sacred for a very long time.”
Sayeh, who’s training to be a feng shui master, brings the harmonizing techniques she studies into her clients’ homes and businesses. When cleaning a space, she’s all about the details: dusting crystals, spritzing sofas with linen spray to smell “like a hotel,” and sage-ing every room in the space at no extra cost. (Clients can book through email, and a basic small apartment clean starts at $150.) It’s not just about the physical either—Sayeh thinks a clean home is an ideal place to manifest ideas. “I really love setting intentions with our clients around what magic they could make in their places afterward, regarding productivity, personal relief, and success,” she says.
After her mom passed away unexpectedly in 2018, Sayeh moved back to the U.S. from Europe, where she was touring as a full-time DJ. The idea for Moody Maids came a week later, when she visited a friend in Gramercy Park while his cleaner was sprucing up the apartment, restocking the fridge with seltzer, and putting fresh sheets on his bed. “I was just watching all the care she was putting into everything,” says Sayeh, who was in a reflective mood at the time. “My friend left her three hundred-dollar bills on the counter, and I was like, Okay, that’s pretty tight; I want to do that.”
Less than a year later, Sayeh launched her business. “A lot of things have just come to me since my mom died, and I always think they’re little gifts that she’s giving me,” she says. Meanwhile, her father supports the idea so much he’s since moved from Atlanta to NYC to help out with cleaning, driving the team, and readying the business for its planned expansion to Los Angeles and Atlanta in 2021. “I wanted this to be a family business, where we could work together, everyone would be okay financially, and we could make our own rules,” says Sayeh.
The entrepreneur extends the same care to her 10-person staff—mostly students and young creatives who feature heavily on the company’s community-driven Instagram page. “There’s a feeling that we truly are all in this together,” says Brenda Bonilla, a Moody Maid and model who’s worked for the company since January, in between photo shoots.
When the pandemic hit the city in March, Sayeh worked with the team to create flexible schedules and decide on precautionary measures collaboratively: Clients are asked to leave their homes during cleans to enforce social distancing, maids work alone to keep them safe, cleaning supplies and PPE are provided, and additional deposits are requested to ensure employees don’t have to rely on public transportation to get to work. “I felt our health and safety were prioritized in a way I wasn’t used to in former places of employment,” says Bonilla.
An emphasis on well-being is what makes the process so therapeutic for Sayeh and her staff. “While I’m cleaning, I get in the zone,” she says. “To be physically doing something helps with my anxiety.” And then there’s the satisfaction of making her clients happy: After finding the brand via a sparkling, light-filled living room on Instagram or through word-of-mouth, many have become regulars, and not necessarily because their apartments need frequent deep-cleans. “I think they just need the headspace,” says Sayeh. Bonilla agrees: “Knowing that I’m part of a business that allows people to feel that way is gratifying.”
Ultimately, though, one of the most important things to Sayeh is passing on her knowledge—not just helping clients clean their homes, but teaching them to make the most of their spaces, too. “Home is the most important place, because that’s where you can have rest, where you can regroup,” she says. “In my personal life I meditate and get a lot of benefit from practices like feng shui and energy cleansing, and I want to share that lifestyle.”
Here, Sayeh offers her three tips for maintaining a restorative space in your own home.
Make Your Bed Every Day
Sayeh is obsessed with staying in hotels for that perfectly made bed. “Just looking at it makes me excited to go to sleep,” she says. She recommends re-creating that feeling by making your bed every day and using a linen spray to freshen up sheets between washes.
Cleanse the Negative Energy
“I just don’t want bad vibes floating around,” she says. Sayeh burns sage or palo santo, walking from corner to corner in every room of the house. Pro tip: Open a window to let the smoke flow. She also loves plants for oxygen production and salt lamps to combat the negative impacts of technology.
Clear Your Spaces
No matter what, Sayeh makes sure to clear all surfaces before cleaning and dusts objects before putting them back. Apart from offering a better clean, she says the move helps you declutter while you go.
Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Time, where we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.