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Career Q&A – Sachiko Kiyooka at Soulful Simplicity

I had the pleasure of meeting Sachiko of Soulful Simplicity when she hired me for a branding shoot and I was blown away by wonderful energy, and organization.  I know so many of us are trying to simplify our lives, and Sachiko would be perfect to lend that extra helping hand many of us need.

Who are you? 

I’m a mama of two grown-up daughters (18, 22). Before moving to Montreal I lived in Victoria, BC, where I raised my girls and did many West Coast-y things like: homeschooling, experimenting with raw food, creating gardens and doing a lot of hiking and exploring the West Coast. I know, why would I move to Montreal? Even though I love Victoria, it is a little small, and I love Montreal’s eclectic vibe (I’m a little bit country, but also most definitely a little bit city). Plus I was born in Alberta and love to ski, so I prefer Montreal’s winter to west coast rain. I’m a bit of a nomad and love exploring new places. Coming here I now have a whole new playground! Both my girls are here going to university in Montreal and my brother ended up marrying and moving to Boston, so the pole of our family has shifted east.

What is your business?  

I help people create spaces that reflect who they really are and how they want to live. The “simplicity” part is about mindfully editing and paring down to what truly brings joy and value, then organizing the space so it’s easy to keep it tidy. The “soulful” part is about using art, objects and principles of Feng Shui so the client feels happy in their space, and so the energy of the space is helping the client to thrive.

I love the challenge of transforming almost any kind of space! Pretty sure I was born this way. I walk in and can usually see the potential immediately. I feel excited by the possibilities. I credit my Scottish engineer grandfather on my mother’s side with the part of my brain that loves to find the most efficient way to arrange items – and I credit my Japanese heritage on my dad’s side with my affinity for simplicity, zen, and the poetry of wabi-sabi natural materials.

Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?

Freedom is a super-high value for me, so I learned early on that I didn’t like being locked into a “job” job. I really thrive on variety, so I like being able to set up my life in a way that best works for me at any given moment. When my girls were small and I wanted to be home with them I did freelance graphic design because I could do it on my own after they went to sleep at night. Later when they got older I became fascinated by energy medicine and trained to be an EFT (tapping) practitioner, and began doing in-person and video coaching. I still have a few tapping clients because I really love transformational coaching work, but I didn’t want to do it full-time because I’m happiest when doing something that brings in art, design or spaces. My current work brings it all together, which is perfect.

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do? 

I had never heard of organizing as a profession, and when I did, honestly it turned me off. It sounded way too dry and boring. And I thought I’d have to work with boring people (sorry to admit I really thought that way!) When I began studying Feng Shui, I finally saw the connect between organizing a space and the Big Picture: how helping people with their spaces is a way to help them live their best life. THAT excited me. And I began to see that not everyone is naturally good at organizing or setting up a space, and that my skills could really help people! I wish I had known I could do this when I was in my 20s. I would have found my “zone of genius” (as Gay Hendricks puts it)  much sooner.

If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them? 

Only 3? Any of: read more, more “flânerie,” learn to play the guitar, take art classes, do more hands-on art-making, go for a long walk outside, invite friends over for dinner more often.

Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I arrived here knowing no-one, and in just 4 years I’ve gotten myself out there and now have all the work I want doing what I love 🙂

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?

In the Company of Women, edited by Design Sponge founder Grace Bonney. So inspiring to peek into the lives of women creatives who are doing what they love.

What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?  

All the back-end admin. It’s the least sexy part, but really critical to having a business that functions well, so you aren’t wasting time doing low-return activities.

What’s the biggest benefit to becoming an entrepreneur – personal, professional or both?

Freedom and self-responsibility. You are it! Being an entrepreneur requires you to be on your game, to grow, to evolve, to adapt, to be constantly learning. You need people skills and you need organizational skills +  your expertise in your area. You are in a continuous, real-time feedback loop. It’s interesting, stimulating and fun.

Thanks Sachiko!

Check out Soulful Simplicity’s website, Facebook and Instagram.

All photos were done by Michelle Little Photography as part of my branding photography offering.  Interested?  Contact me and we’ll work together to create something that really tells the story of your business to your audience.

Read more interviews here.

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