The owner of a housekeeping business finds independence through adversity.
Crystal Boliek doesn’t dwell on the past, yet she does believe family tragedies and hardships have made her the strong person she is today.
“I just roll with the punches that life throws at you,” says the 28-year-old single mother from Leesburg. “I think that you should not let tough times hold you back. Have your own goals set for yourself, go from there, and take it day by day.”
She was a toddler when her father committed suicide. She never knew him. Crystal was raised by her grandmother, who died when Crystal was a teenager, and it wasn’t until Crystal was 20 that she developed a better relationship with her mother, who lives elsewhere.
“I did a lot of stuff by myself,” Crystal recalls, including moving out at 14, finding work, and learning to be independent. “It made me a really strong person.”
Throughout her life, Crystal found it therapeutic to clean. Even as a preschooler, she delighted in trying to scrub off dirt and grime at her grandma’s house.
“There was the huge boulder rock outside that would get mold on it and stuff, and I would have fun going out there scrubbing the mold off with a toothbrush,” she says with a chuckle. “I don’t know what it is, but I do enjoy cleaning. Even if I’m stressed or bored, I’ll clean. It’s very relaxing for me.”
She learned deep-cleaning tips in her first housekeeping job as a teenager, and in 2011, Crystal started her own business, Crystal Clean Housekeeping, which she leads today. She oversees a team of six employees and two vehicles on the road, and serves more than 100 customers in The Villages and Lady Lake.
“I started my business with an income-tax refund of $1,200,” Crystal recalls.
In those early years, she would clean houses during the day and work a restaurant job at night. This was her routine for two years, working about 80 hours a week in order to get her business running and to pay the bills.
The most requested areas for deep cleaning are bathrooms, kitchens, and floors.
“I think the greatest joy is being able to help people that really need the help,” Crystal says. “Floors are really hard for people to clean, and sometimes there are stains that they thought they couldn’t get off. Usually, we can get it off, and they are pretty impressed by that.”
Beverly Price, of Leesburg, looked on Angie’s List for someone to clean the “very dirty house” of an ill cousin in The Villages. The house needed to be cleaned before her relative moved back in.
Crystal and her crew devoted two days to doing the job.
“It was absolutely spotless, from top to bottom. They did a beautiful job, a wonderful job,” Beverly says. “Crystal and her crew went above and beyond.”
Beverly’s cousin was impressed, too, and she hired Crystal’s crew to do monthly cleaning.
“We do whatever they need. We have a set routine that we do going into the houses, but if anybody needs extra help with other stuff that maybe they can’t do, like hand-scrubbing the floors for them, we’ll do it,” Crystal says. “We have some people who cannot make beds, so we’ll do it. Anything that they need help with, we are pretty willing to help, if we can.”
The dirtier a job, the more challenging it is, and that’s OK, she says.
“I actually like it when something is really dirty, we get it really clean, and we get that reaction out of people of ‘Oh, my gosh! I didn’t think that would come off!’” she says.
“I’m somewhat OCD,” Crystal adds. “I think if something can come clean, then we are going to get it clean.”
One of her toughest jobs was cleaning the house of a hoarder. She remembers a husband reached out to her when his wife, the hoarder, fell and was recuperating in a rehabilitation facility.
“He was in desperate need, and he could not do it himself. He felt since his wife was away that it was going to be the best time to do it,” Crystal recalls. “It was a really big project and took us two days, from 9 to 5, but it was really rewarding, and you could tell on the husband’s face that he was very pleased.”
Crystal is proud of her crew. She looked for employees with a good personality and a desire to help people.
“You have to want to be there to help,” she says. “If they have experience, obviously that’s a plus, but if they don’t, I’ll go in and train them with the way that it needs to be done.”
Among the easiest houses to clean are those without a lot of stuff in the way.
“We have clients who keep their homes very simple, and we love that, where we can actually clean and we are not moving things,” Crystal says.
Since working in The Villages, she has seen the mega-retirement community and her business grow.
“For the longest time I was scared to venture off and hire people because you worry about things not being done the way that you would do them,” she says. “It took me about four years before I actually started hiring people. I was extremely busy, but I’m very glad that I did.”
Crystal, pleased that she’s grown her business on her own without a bank loan, aspires to add three or four more vehicles to Crystal Clean Housekeeping. She’s also pondering whether to add pressure washing as a subcontracted service.
“I still feel like I have a long way to go. I want to be bigger. My goal would be to be big like Molly Maids,” she says.
In her spare time, Crystal enjoys activities with her son, Jase, 10, a student at Villages Elementary in Lady Lake, and she also enjoys keeping a tidy house.
“I am very finicky about my bathroom, mainly I because I have a boy, and boys can be very messy. I like to keep my bathroom very clean,” she says.
Crystal’s advice to anyone interested in starting their own business is to simply follow their passions, whatever they may be.
“If they are passionate about something, I would say definitely do it. Just do everything that you feel like in your power to do, even if it takes you working two jobs to get it done,” she says. “Even if money is tight while you’re doing it, it will eventually pay off.”
She knows this from experience. She’s also passionate about her work. Even as she cleans, Crystal often thinks of possible solutions to problems and how to expand her business. The savvy housecleaning boss admits her work often is on her mind.
“I’m always thinking, ‘What else can I do?’”