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What do a piggy bank, a map, a cup of tea and a tennis court have in common? They’re all featured prominently on an old vision board of Suzie Sandoval’s. She put them there in 2007 in an exercise designed to help her uncover her greater purpose and passion.
Since she began focusing on finding her path six years ago, she’s discovered that she gets a thrill from helping others find calm amid clutter—and that she can make a living while she’s at it.
Today, Sandoval is a professional organizer with her own growing company, OrganiZEN. It’s her business to help others live a more peaceful life by guiding them to create order, efficiency and productivity in their surroundings. “OrganiZEN is about having more functionality and simplicity in your life so you can have more peace in your life—and enjoy that peace,” she explains.
Sandoval specializes in helping entrepreneurs, busy women, kids and teens get their act together so they can live without the stress that chaotic surroundings can provoke. “I organize according to lifestyle,” she says of her personalized approach to the process.
She is especially passionate about helping overloaded mothers get organized so they can focus their attention on their children. “I believe that moms have the most difficult job in the world,” says Sandoval, who was raised by a single mother herself. “Moms are the people I want to support as much as possible.”
She helps them develop methods of organization that are sustainable so they can enjoy a soothing home environment with their families. “There’s a lot that can be simplified,” Sandoval says.
Growing up, things weren’t that easy for Sandoval. She moved with her family from California to Oregon during high school and found her teenage years to be difficult. “It was a frustrating time,” she admits. “I’ve always had some kind of energy and passion.” She’d ask herself, “What am I supposed to do? I’m ready to do it.”
She lacked confidence as a student, briefly attending a local community college after her high school graduation. Then, she took an entry-level job as an apartment leasing consultant. As time passed, she settled into a career in property management, assuming more responsibility along the way.
As a property manager, “you have so many roles,” she says. Sandoval found it interesting and challenging to hire and manage employees, keep the property owner and management company happy, all while ensuring community residents enjoyed living there. Eventually, Sandoval moved to a corporate role in the company, becoming a computer support trainer.
In search of new challenges, Sandoval moved on to other property management firms before accepting a job as the West Coast trainer for a property management company with a national presence. She thrived in her role until she was laid off when the company downsized in 2008.
Sandoval turned what could have been a devastating experience into an opportunity for self improvement. “Getting laid off from being a trainer was so momentous,” she admits. “It allowed me to bring things back into my life that I didn’t think I had the confidence to do. One of those things was the courage to go back to school.”
She enrolled at University of Phoenix, earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Management in 2012. It was during her degree program that she began building her business plan for OrganiZEN. She was inspired by the joy that helping others brought her and the sense of satisfaction she got from coordinating and structuring things. “When I did [a project] in marketing class, I would do it on my business,” she says. “That’s what really helped [build] the momentum.”
Sandoval has spent the past couple of years creating her professional organizing company from scratch, and this year she is focusing on growing it. “I put in a lot of time to build this business,” she says. “Now it’s really the fruits of my labor coming together to drive in enough revenue to allow it continue to grow and support my living.” She’s also embracing for herself the calm she brings to others every day. “It took me a while to go back to valuing simplicity,” she reflects. “Now that I have, I understand that the less I have in my home, the more creative I am.”
In January, Sandoval created a new vision board for herself. On it, there’s an image of a hot air balloon floating high above the earth. “That’s something I will do someday, the whole idea of reaching toward the sky and dreaming big,” she says. “The fact is that I am making my dreams come true. We have the ability to create the life we desire. Truly anything is possible.”