Susan Hayes created a successful business out of just being herself.
“I was the only kid on the block whose mother never had to say ‘Clean Up Your Room,’” Susan said. “As a kid, you don’t have control over anything in life except your stuff. Organizing helped me deal with what was sometimes a chaotic childhood.”
Susan started her professional organizing business in 1999.
“I named the business PaperClip because it seemed to be the biggest problem for most people. I like to joke…the constants in life are Death and Taxes – add Paper.”
She was inspired to start her business after completing an entrepreneur program with the Women’s Entrepreneurs of Baltimore. Susan was one of a group of 60 women selected out of a group of over 4000 applicants.
“It was the best experience of my life. The people I met shared an entrepreneurial passion – we became like family,” Susan said.
The instructor of the program believed in Susan’s business’ mission which was “to help others find the secret to a calmer less chaotic life.”
“She thought is was a fantastic idea for a business,” Susan said.
The instructor was absolutely right about Susan’s idea. She landed her first job before the class ended.
The organizing business 20 years ago was not the burgeoning industry it is today. It certainly was not the stuff of reality television shows. Susan had to create an innovative business plan and devise a strategy on how to market and grow her business.
“It was pretty much word-of-mouth at the beginning, nobody else was doing it,” Susan said with a smile. “I was creating the business model as I was going along.”
The majority of her business during her first 10 years came from homeowners in Chevy Chase. Referrals for her services were passed back and forth mornings at school bus stops and between customers at Bethesda Bagels and the Barnes and Noble fountain.
It did not take Susan long to build a stellar reputation as a skilled organizer who knows how to simplify her clients’ lives. She has a gift for helping individuals and families make hard and sometimes emotional decisions about what possessions to keep and what to toss.
“There is a lot of counseling involved in this. I have to learn their pace. I have to get to know them and discover what their goals are,” she said. “Often, what they need is very different than what they want.”
Two decades after the epiphany in Baltimore, Susan is one of the most in-demand professional organizers in the Washington Metro area. Her corporate clients have included: Georgetown University, National Rural Electric, and United Bank of Switzerland.
PaperClip has had hundreds of organizing jobs in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and surrounding metropolitan area. Susan has done everything from renovating a house in Georgetown, to helping new parents optimize the space their house in Chevy Chase, to helping a woman organize the more than 5000 teddy bears she had collected over the years.
“There comes a time in some people’s lives when they become overwhelmed. They need a compassionate “rent-a-boss” to help them get their living spaces and lives back under control. So, I have to come in and save the day in three to six hours,” Susan added. “If I leave a house and nothing has changed, I haven’t done my job.”
Somehow, I do not think it is possible to experience Susan and be left unchanged.
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