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Meet Sandra Wakashige of Little Miss Organize in Winnetka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Wakashige.

Sandra, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My journey to become a professional organizer grew out of one of the most difficult times in my life. My mother passed away, and my 15-year-old sister was left alone in a terrible home environment. Even though I was only 25, I decided to adopt my sister so she could have a better life. I went from being an independent young woman to the single mother of a teenager. Every day was chaotic. Exhausted, I juggled everything from my work to her therapy sessions to math homework. We struggled to find a peaceful balance in our new, unconventional family.

Then, things took a turn for the worse: I lost my job. Nothing was working out the way I had planned. Organization was my saving grace. I started organizing my life, and for the first time, I felt I could handle the new scope of responsibility I had taken on.

A year later, I had the good fortune to meet Teine Estey of Organize This while helping out a friend. She saw my passion for organizing and encouraged me to attend a conference hosted by NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers). I took the leap and never looked back. Seven years later, I’m still in business as a professional organizer, doing something I love every day. Every difficult moment along this path was worth it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Venturing out on your own as an entrepreneur is never easy, especially in a newly formed industry that some people have never heard of. Part of the challenge included trying to explain to people exactly what I do and why. Another challenge was starting my career path while raising my sister after the death of my mother. Other difficulties ranged from keeping my week filled with clients to staying committed to my own company when offered full-time positions from clients. Each time I am offered a permanent position working for someone else, I remind myself why I started Little Miss Organize and how good it feels to be in control of my business and calendar. I use my flexible schedule to continue learning new techniques and skills that I can offer potential clients.

Please tell us about Little Miss Organize.
Little Miss Organize is who I am. I take chaotic environments and turn them into workable spaces that are functional for each individual. No project is too big or small, and no task is insignificant. I have done everything from setting companies up with quick books to decorating beautiful homes for Christmas to managing cross country relocations. I have walked into multimillion dollar companies and helped them find the breakdowns in their productivity system. I love being the outside set of eyes helping people make changes for the better.

Every client is different, and I adapt to meet their needs. Some clients have been unorganized for 30 years and need out-of-the-box thinking to reinvent themselves. Others, such as creative individuals, don’t want items labeled and tucked away; they want everything out in the open at a hand’s reach. Some need me to be their “task buddy” as they purge or make their way through a seemingly impossible task. Still others never meet me but entrust me to pack and unpack their home, which requires trust and progressive planning. No matter how challenging or last minute the task, the hugs and texts of “Brilliant!” at the end make it worth it.

Finances are a specialty of mine. I take great pride in helping people analyze their expenditures, reconcile their QuickBooks and navigate their spending to afford the life they want and the future they desire. In a world where so many people live beyond their means, I love helping clients get their lives on track financially.

Above all else, I am blessed to have company that offers me the ability to give back. I am currently collecting shoe donations for Soles4Souls. My garage is full of over 3,000 pairs of shoes, and in October, my husband and I will be traveling to Guatemala to distribute shoes and volunteer in the local community. In addition, all the clothes my clients purge go to the shelters of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Mission, and The Valley Rescue Mission. This is only made possible with help from my amazing clients and friends who share my vision for helping others.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Three big lessons: #1 Do not accept a garage organizing project in mid-July. #2 If you tell a client “anytime works for me”, be prepared to meet with them at 4am or 11pm. Both have happened. #3 My Mini Cooper was way too small to be my work vehicle.

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