Ellen Gellar Kamaras
“When I look back, I see that the decisions my parents made, and the steps I took as a child and teenager, helped me grow into the person I am today. They were the catalysts to connect me with family, spiritual people, and my passions.” ~~ Ruthie Levy
Ruthie Anteby Levy grew up in Brooklyn on Avenue O, the oldest of three daughters, in what she portrays as a very traditional Syrian landscape.
Her parents were always oriented towards religion and Ruthie was a big shul goer. She was blessed to have both sets of grandparents close by, spending Friday nights with one side of the family and Shabbat lunches with the other.
Tenth grade was a turning point. Ilan High School opened in Ocean, New Jersey and Ruthie’s parents, seeking to grow religiously, moved to Deal, NJ. At Ilan, an all-girls Jewish school characterized as a place to grow, Ruthie learned that very religious individuals were “regular” people. Her teachers were so supportive, that Ruthie reached out to one, twenty years later, and asked that teacher to be her mentor. “If you need guidance, you have to ask for it and make it happen.”
Ruthie makes it a point to a have a rabbi in her life, a spiritual guide, to turn to when making significant life decisions. She is proud that her older children also follow her lead and reach out to a rabbi when they have questions.
Ruthie enjoyed school. She was an A student and a “rules follower.” Following rules matches up with Ruthie becoming a professional organizer. She also noted that she was quiet but had lots of friends as a child.
Although Ruthie thrived at Ilan, she missed her close friends, and after a year and a half she transferred to Magen David Yeshivah High School for the remainder of her education. During the school year Ruthie stayed with her grandparents in Brooklyn during the week. She speaks fondly of the close relationships that were formed. “I would sleep at one grandparent’s house, eat dinner at the other. Tuesday night was hamburger night. We played rummy too. Those strong connections grounded me.”
Ruthie spent her gap year studying at Seminar Bnos Chayil in Israel with her close friends. “It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about myself.” It was another influential step in her life journey.
When she returned from Israel, Ruthie worked in Manhattan at various jobs, including a jewelry store. Again, she enjoyed living with her grandparents during the week, and returned to her parents’ home in NJ for weekends and holidays. Ruthie studied accounting at Touro College but realized accounting was not a good fit for her.
Ruthie and her family settled in Lakewood, NJ. Ruthie is the proud mother of children ranging in ages 5 and 19. Ruthie absolutely loves the Lakewood community and its safe mindset.
“Lakewood has all the conveniences and the entire town is on the same schedule. People show appreciation and respect for different types and religious levels of observances, are sensitive to other nuances, and are all working towards the same goal, being family oriented and striving to serve Hashem. Its residents have a special relationship with the Police Commissioner and the School Board members, who understand and respect our lifestyle. We had a lot of support during the pandemic.”
Passions and Purpose
When I asked Ruthie for four adjectives to describe herself, she enlisted her friends and children for feedback. First and foremost, she is very honest: “I am allergic to lies, falsehoods, and discrepancies. I have an antenna that can detect lies!” She is passionate about balance, finding the truth, and seeking peace. Ruthie is mindful about keeping her eye on what’s going to keep the peace in relationships, both business and personal.
Another key trait is Ruthie’s drive. That is what propelled her to become more religious and to build her own business. Ruthie is also driven to empower others to be the best version of themselves.
Ruthie’s 13-year-old son’s description of his mother was: “Mom, you are just happy.” What a huge compliment! Her son recognizes his mother’s feeling of wellbeing and he sees his mother as displaying pleasure and contentment. She has a very close relationship with her children and is so grateful for that!
“They are such good kids and the yeshivot are delighted to have them as students. I am involved with their schools and am so pleased with the education they are receiving.”
Career and Business
After giving birth to her second child, Ruthie decided that she wanted to work from home. She was very resourceful and started a catering business, baking Syrian desserts and mazza in her own kitchen. Ruthie also taught classes at Ilan and at night to high school girls about personal development and relationships with Hashem. She did bookkeeping and wig styling, and continued working at these diverse jobs for ten years.
Seven years ago, when most of her children were in school, Ruthie realized that she had more free time and had the ability to start her own company. When one of her children explained that the reason behind the name Friday is that Ruthie fries all day, i.e. kibbe, empanadas… she said to herself, “I need a business that takes up less of my children’s time and space.”
What could she do that would be more rewarding and get her out of the house?
One of her relatives helped her answer that question. She asked Ruthie, “What do you love to do the most?” Ruthie replied, “I love to organize things.” Her passion for organizing began at a young age. When Ruthie was in third grade, she remembers having the best time at a friend’s house when they took out all the games and reorganized the toy closet. As an adult, she found herself buying containers and reorganizing every Sunday.
Ruthie did not know if formal training in organization existed and was thrilled when her friend found her an in-person training program.
There were not many professional organizers in Deal and Lakewood and Ruthie got her name out by participating in Expos and boutique shows, demonstrating the process of home organization and showing examples of before and after. Ruthie’s goal was to work with each family’s dynamic, budget, and their habits, to create a system and flow that operates for them and is easy to maintain. Her specialty is home organization although she does organize small businesses, too.
Ruthie first named her business “Organize It.” As she continued to develop her goals and brand, she recognized that her mission was to create organizational systems that keep people’s lives simple and remove any complexities. That’s how Simplifized was born!
Most of Ruthie’s clients comes from referrals and from her Instagram page. On the initial phone call with a new client, Ruthie aims to ascertain the gist of the project, such as focusing on the kitchen versus the entire house. She obtains pictures and videos before meeting in person. Ruthie asks targeted questions to determine what the client’s vision is and what would work for them. She prepares a mental map, including the products to buy that will help to create a space that is unique to the client’s family and reflects who they are. Some clients say, “do your magic” and give her free rein. Ruthie’s secret to success is the ability to work with each person’s vision, needs, habits, and budget. She is very respectful of her clients’ privacy regarding sharing before and after pictures. She will never share anything without express permission.
Ruthie built her own online organizational program and has trained women all over the world to become professional organizers. She also provides other online classes to assist people in organization and has taught courses at The Well and DSN. Ruthie has also written for Mishpacha Magazine.
Decluttering became popular during the pandemic as people worked from home, took care of their children, and tried to keep the children engaged. With all the uncertainty, choosing to declutter allowed individuals to assert some control over their personal space and to stay organized. Ruthie created an opportunity out of adversity and formed her Style online program.
Ruthie’s unique organizational process is called the “SMART” system.
S is for select a category, such as your coffee cabinet.
M is for minimize, go through, and eliminate what you do not need, such as expired tea bags and mugs you do not use.
A is for arrange, how to prioritize and place your items.
R is for receptacle, put items into containers.
T is for Tagging. Tagging or labels provide a visual map for an organizational system that can be maintained easily.
Being her own boss provides a lot of flexibility and Ruthie’s children think her business is very cool. Ruthie gives her children guidelines and they have picked up organizational tools from their mom. Her five-year-old daughter recently organized her hotel drawers while unpacking her suitcase.
To relax, Ruthie gets together with friends. “Even if it’s for an hour, it’s like oxygen for me.”
Ruthie continues to develop and streamline her training programs and make them easily accessible.
Career Satisfaction? “I love when clients tell me that they can maintain the system, they are saving money because they know where everything is, and that their mornings and evenings are smoother.”
Connect with Ruthie on Instagram @Simplifized or on her business line at 732-339-3971.
Declutter your space declutter your mind!
Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Ellen works part-time as an entitlement specialist at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. She can be contacted at email@example.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).