Sofia’s Organizing Solutions is an SOS for the clutter and chaos in your life! Sofia is a professional organizer. A former pack-rat and clutter-friendly person, Sofia first discovered her love and talent for organizing with a major spring cleaning of her own about 12 years ago.

“I was very disorganized and cluttered for most of my life, so I can definitely relate, share and empathize with my clients about how it feels to be disorganized and chaotic.”

Determined to change her ways and drastically de-clutter and reduce the volume of her belongings and various collections, she organized everything she owned from top to bottom. She became committed about keeping her space and her life organized and sane. Soon after, her family and friends began asking her to lend her organizing skills in their own homes and businesses.

Prior to starting her company in January of 2007, Sofia worked for 11 years in the administrative support, creative arts, bookkeeping, oil & gas services, restaurant, and database management sectors. The valuable expertise derived from these business venues allowed her to gather a substantial cache of methods and strategies and a keen sense of what clients need in order to have functional, productive lives both personally and professionally. She employs these same methods and strategies in running her business.

While we were talking during her portrait session, I joked that I think that a professional organizer has to be part therapist as well! Even in the time we worked together, she made me realize a lot about the why behind all of the items that I hold on to, and I’m looking forward to working with her to purge the items I’ve been holding on to that I no longer need. The items that I love and choose to hold on to deserve a place in my life, and all the extra items need to go! Need help too? Call on Sofia!

Sofia’s Organizing Solutions is a proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and NAPO Houston, where Sofia served on its Executive Board as Professional Development Director for 2008/2009.

Sofia’s blog is full of a TON of useful tips on getting your life organized! In addition to both residential and business organizing services, she also offers training events to help you such as The Organized Business Owner Workshop and Conquering The Cloud Of Clutter Workshop. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @SofiaOrganizer.

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Noah’s Kitchen provides the less fortunate with food, gently used clothing, and the resources that will help them in finding medical help, shelter, employment, and eventually housing- getting them off the streets. They currently crowd-source donations, labor, and delivery vehicles on Sunday afternoons and other random days during the week as well. Anyone is encouraged to share their time with them, and volunteers are always welcome! Their website and blog was created so those of you with an interest would be able to follow their progress from a dream and beyond.

Amber Rodriguez is the Founder and Executive Director of Noah’s Kitchen. When she got laid off in September of 2009, she had to file for unemployment and wanted to make the best of her free time with her son Noah. They volunteered for the WM Superfeast and started getting involved with Charity Chicks of Houston. Noah loved being part of something good. Amber started talking to various people about ideas and before she knew it, Noah’s Kitchen was off & running!

I had such a great time with Noah & Amber on our photo shoot! We wanted to include the downtown skyline of the city that they love so much, and it was the perfect day for it!

Noah’s Kitchen is currently in need of water, peanut butter, pull-top dog and cat food, Wal-Mart or Sam’s gift cards, toiletries, clothing, blankets, and jackets. All donations are tax deductible and GREATLY appreciated.

You can follow Noah’s Kitchen on Facebook and on Twitter @Noahs_Kitchen. Then go out and volunteer to help them!

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When I started to become active in the Support Local, Grow Together movement, it was important to me put my money where my heart is and shop locally as much as possible. I’ve realized though that sometimes, the local businesses might not be what you expect – they aren’t always just the mom & pop shop on the corner. Sometimes, they may be well established companies online that you never realized are located right here in Houston, Texas. That was the case with Blinds.com. Yes, right here in Houston, and I had no idea!

Though they have a lot of fun, they are an incredibly analytical, metrics-driven company. Every department’s efforts are tested and measured; this is what has made them so successful. Our marketing department is a small team of 8, but together they’ve managed to have great success. This year, they won the American Marketing Association’s Marketer of the Year award, beating out finalists like Shell, Gexa Energy, and MD Anderson Hospital. In the face of a crippled economy and a housing market that has been in the tanker for years, they’ve increased revenue, increased profit, created more jobs for Houston (they hired 40 people this year, taking them from 70-something to 100+ employees), and become more culture and community-focused. They have a true culture of accountability; they want to get our jobs done well, because it helps their co-workers get their jobs done well too.

They take the culture VERY seriously, and it shows! I could just feel it as I walked through their offices. It was buzzing and humming away, as people were working hard, taking calls in the call center area, and you had a sense that they love what they do. To get a job there (any job, including customer service and sales), you must go through 4-5 rounds of interviews, including a peer panel review. Their call center is a melting pot of personalities and talent, and it is considered very prestigious to work there. They invest in their people with weekly in-office training called “Drills for Skills” which helps sales and CS reps improve effectiveness on the phones. They offer personal development and opportunities for upward mobility. They send people to conferences and higher learning training courses all over the country. They plan incredible community services projects like Shade of Hope, and one that they are currently working on with Texas Children’s Hospital. They donate all returned and recycled blinds to the Houston Re-Store, a thrift store owned and managed by Habitat for Humanity to provide those who can’t afford it with affordable window treatments. They donate money to Susan G. Komen, walk in Race for the Cure each year, participate in Via Colori, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, Houston Chowhounds fundraiser for the Gulf Cost fishermen, The River Performing Arts Center, Aishel House… the list goes on.

I’d say the most important thing to know about Blinds.com is that their core values aren’t just a bunch of B.S. “Improve continuously” and “wow every customer” pretty much fuels everything they do. What this means is that when it comes to making customers happy is that they will go to any length to do it. They are constantly working on the organization as a whole and themselves to do their jobs better. I loved the “improve continuously” board full of motivation and plans that people had to grow.

Above all, these values mean that Blinds.com is an honorable, honest organization. Sure the bottom line is important, but not as important as making sure employees feel like they’re working for a company that values them and its customers, and strives to do the right thing in every situation.

Aside from winning Marketer of the Year, they’ve won a few other awards this year:
- One of Houston’s Best Places to Work by Houston Business Journal (*If I read this, I would have known that they were in Houston.)
- Their CFO was a finalist for CFO of the Year
- Esther Steinfeld, Public Relations Manager, was named to Houston’s 40 Under 40 list
- And probably the one they’re most proud of… they were named Best in Class National Call Center of the Year, and our VP of Operations was named the Call Center Leader of the Year

I’m glad that Blinds.com calls Houston home, and that they take such an active role in our community! If you don’t already, be sure to follow them on Facebook and @BlindsDotCom on Twitter!

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I had the opportunity to meet with the team behind Forthea – what great people, and what a smart team! Trying to get your company noticed? There’s an easier way. Let the team at Forthea help you out!

Founded by a group of technology and marketing experts in 2006, Forthea develops, deploys and manages technology-based solutions that contribute directly to their client’s bottom lines. They work to understand their client’s business objectives and then employ a combination of strategy, service and technology to maximize their return on investment (ROI). From deploying online marketing campaigns to building custom back-office software applications, their primary focus is delivering measurable results and value to each and every one of our customers.

Their three main focuses are Online Marketing, Website Design & Software Development.

Online marketing is the most cost-effective way to reach customers. In fact, the return on investment from online marketing outperforms all other traditional advertising methods combined. Their team of online advertising experts begin driving focused, high-value traffic to your website today. Our Online Marketing services consist of two distinct but related practices: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Advertising. In addition, they offer a variety of custom, à la carte services that can help supplement and strengthen any existing online marketing campaign.

More people use search engines to locate information, products, and services on the Internet than any other means. In fact, search engines drive 93% of all internet traffic (Forrester Research, 2008). Moreover, visitors who find you through search engines are actively seeking your products or services, which indicates they are often “pre-qualified” as valuable prospects. That is where the real value of online marketing comes in and where Forthea can help!

Looking for Website Design? Forthea designs websites that inspire, inform and interact with your customers. From updating existing websites to designing from scratch, they work hard to ensure your website is attractive, easy to navigate, and professionally optimized for top search engine placement. Our user-centered design approach focuses on designing intuitive and efficient user interfaces, implementing easy-to-navigate site architectures, and developing robust and natural information categories. The result is a user experience devoid of the common pitfalls.

Need some help with a custom software application or systems integration project? Their team of professional developers are capable of handling the most complex of requests. They specialize in developing custom e-Commerce applications, intranet/extranet solutions, and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). They have experience on a variety of platforms and with a variety of databases.

Forthea works with select clients from around the world, with U.S. corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas. Be sure to follow them at Twitter.com/Forthea!

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Jenni’s Noodle House was born out of a dream during a dark time in American history. Jenni used to be an airline flight attendant, but back in 2001, after 9/11, she found herself grounded along with most of the airline industry at the time when flights were dramatically cut. It was then that she found the perfect space for the original Jenni’s Noodle House. Now over 8 years since that first location opened, their third location has opened in the Heights at 602 East 20th St. (at Oxford) and things as busy as ever!

Jenni’s Noodle House is known for their quirky, fresh and fun attitude. Proud to be locally-owned and operated, Jenni and Scott are hands on and their personality shines through the brand. They are definitely not afraid to party and have a great time! They spend a lot of time in the restaurants, and when they’re not there, they share their adventures (traveling, fun with their son Logan, etc.) with their customers when they return. The restaurant is a huge part of their life, and their customers are their extended family. It is a great place to go with friends, a place where you can go time and again and never tire of the food or the atmosphere.

The food is an alternative Vietnamese – Jenni described it to me as what she ate when she was growing up. Authentic and true to the style, fresh food in a positive, fun environment. It is not only yummy – it is fast and high-quality too! Jenni’s is well known for celebrity appearances (some are real and some might be imagined – but you never know if you’ll spot Madonna or Lady Gaga there!), it is a casual, comfortable place – a home away from home. Speaking of casual – the restaurant is BYOB! So be sure to grab your favorite bottle of wine or some beer before you head over there to eat. Also important to note, they have more than 20 vegetarian items, more than 20 vegan items, and more than 20 gluten-free items. As someone who isn’t well versed in Vietnamese cuisine, I found it super handy to go through their photo menu as well as the regular one. That way, I knew exactly what I was going to get before I even ordered!

Each restaurant has one red wall and one yellow wall, to symbolize the colors of the flag of Vietnam, and they have large-scale black and white photograph prints of Jenni, Scott and Logan’s travels to Vietnam.

Jenni’s Noodle House was selected as the Best Gay-Friendly Restaurant by the Houston Press 2010.

They are launching BYOB Kung-Fu Movie Nights at their Post Oak location on October 19th, and they are co-hosting the Social Media Shin-Dig (Houston’s biggest & best tweet-up) with Black Sheep on October 20th. Both events should be AWESOME so you should be sure to check them out! I’ll be at the Social Media Shin-Dig, so I’ll see you there!

Be sure to follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/noodlesrule and on Facebook! It’s All Good in the Noodlehood!

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