We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I’d been working for other people for years. I was sick of the American corporate culture, glorifying overworking and busyness, being expected to sacrifice your life for a company that wouldn’t return the favor much less offer you the pay you deserve… And with my chronic pain, it was very difficult. I had to take a lot of time off, using up my PTO very quickly. And then after it was gone, I just had to suck it up and somehow show up to work. The flexibility I needed wasn’t there and there certainly wasn’t trust or respect coming from upper management.
I hated having to beg for time off and tell them WHY. I hated being stuck in an office for 8 hours straight. And I hated not being able to make my own decisions about what was important. I hated not being able to prioritize my body’s health and wellbeing over sitting in a chair in a stuffy office for hours – and for what?
Quitting that corporate world to start my own business was so refreshing. I set my own schedule, my own limits, and take as much or as little time off as I want. I don’t have to put up with belligerent or offensive customers anymore; I can simply walk away. If I’m having a pain flare, I don’t have to beg for some time for recovery or WFH days. There’s so much more freedom running your own business. Of course, there’s a lot more work, but it’s worth it. And I’m in control.
At the heart of my business is the ideal of independence. As a disabled woman, independence is a goal I strive for continually. It’s something that’s quickly stripped away from you when you’re suffering with pain or disability. It’s so infantilizing to constantly have to ask for help, to be dependent on others, to have to wait for help. I remember days waiting at the front of the grocery store for a riding cart for HOURS only to be forced to head home without any groceries.
I should be able to go to the grocery store and get my groceries on my own like any able bodied person. Alas, without a riding cart, that wasn’t always possible. And providing this accessibility and equality didn’t seem to be a priority for society at large either.
Which is why I took matters into my own hands when I was at the worst stages of my CRPS. I got a rotating bar stool I could transfer into from my wheelchair so I could cook. I got a grabber bar from a retail store so I could finally reach and use the top half of my closet.
I tied one end of my robe belt to my rolling laundry basket and the other to my wheelchair so I could wheel myself around and carry my laundry at the same time.
Getting creative with my solutions allowed me to take back that control I so strongly craved and had lost in my life.
This is the idea I take with me into clients homes. I provide them with solutions that allow them to take control of their lives and regain some independence. For anyone with a disability, this is life changing. Being able to use your home fully without having to ask for help is HUGE.
And it is outrageous to me that accessibility isn’t standard in all homes. In fact, I can’t fit my wheelchair through the bathroom door in my home. This lack of accessibility is unacceptable. This is why I strongly support the NCIL’S visitability vision for homes. Everywhere should be accessible always, all the time, for all people. And builders should be required to keep this in mind as they create new buildings and homes.
So again, at the core of my business, is the ideal of taking back the independence that was lost.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m a professional organizer. My specialty is helping people with chronic pain and disabilities. As a disabled woman myself, I have a unique insight into the struggles a disabled person goes through daily.
Getting your home remodeled for accessibility can be insanely expensive – and for many people who are living on disability alone, remodeling costs are impossibly high and unattainable. So, they continue to live in homes they can’t fully utilize because they don’t really have a choice.
To me, this is unacceptable. And I went through the same thing in college. I was placed in a second story dorm with no elevator or ramps. Housing told me I could ask my roommate to carry me down the stairs (how unbelievably dehumanizing). I couldn’t afford high remodeling costs (not to mention I was in a dorm), and no one else was helping me, so I had to get creative.
Finding these affordable, in-between solutions greatly improved my day to day life and gave me back so much of the independence I had lost when I was diagnosed. And it occurred to me one day that I could help others do the same thing.
Instead of just coming in and organizing everything for them and then walking away, we work together to create sustainable solutions to make their homes more accessible, easier to use, and their lives easier overall. They’re in control – and as a disabled woman, I can say I know how good that feels.
As far as I how I got to where I am today, I started out by joining NAPO and taking a few classes. I offered free organizing for friends and family and a few local teachers. Then I started contracting for some local organizers to get a feel for it.
Once I felt I was ready, I worked on my Google, Yelp, and Thumbtack, let my website go live, and started marketing my business. I got my first client from Thumbtack.
I’ve learned a lot as I’ve continued. My contract seems to get longer and longer as time goes on. Some of the biggest lessons:
1) Make sure people secure their dogs before they open the door to their home. I have a scar on my ankle from this one!
2) Get payment before you leave. Never allow things to slide on good faith. You deserve to be paid on time.
3) If it feels wrong, it probably is. Trust your gut. It’s okay to say no.
4) Always tell someone where you’re going and how long you’ll be there.
5) Get payment details before leaving the premises in case people try to not pay you.
6) Ensure you’re not becoming someone’s babysitter while you’re trying to work. This has happened before and now I have a clause in my contract stating I will not be the sole supervision for your child during my work.
7) Don’t undervalue yourself. Set your prices with pride and know that you are knowledgeable and providing a valuable service for people!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s so much to do in Houston. For food, I’d say my top two places are Del Pueblo Mexican Restaurant on Grant and Jones – and Velvet Taco!
There’s also some amazing sushi at Akashi down in Clear Lake.
Space Center Houston is definitely worth checking out. There’s always something going on at Discovery Green. And of course, Galveston Beach isn’t that far away.
My favorite bar in the area is Joystix. They’re right next to a building that sells pinball machines and vintage video games. Once a month, they open up that side and you pay for a wristband so you can play games all night! It’s so much fun.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
NAPO – The national association of professional organizers. Napo has been such a great resource for me. This community is full of organizers who are willing to collaborate, give advice freely, and help others. Despite being competition, everyone is so kind and helpful to each other. It’s such a great community.
Exit Strategy: How to Quit the Job You Hate – I took this online class prior to quitting my job in marketing. It gave me so much great information on how to do this RIGHT instead of just quitting and panicking about what came next. I was able to plan ahead and get my ducks in a row before diving in and quitting my old job.
SCORE – This organization is a group of retired business owners who mentor people starting their own business for free. My mentor helped me set up my DBA, EIN, business mission, and file the proper paperwork with the county to get started. I couldn’t have done it without them!
My wonderful family – Without my partner Joe, none of this would have been possible. He helped me financially as I was getting my business on its feet so I could live my dream. The wonderful people I have in my life are right behind me, constantly supporting and offering advice and encouragement when I need it.
Fable Avalon Photography