Get Organized With Resident Crystal Kowalis

August 4, 2011

Originally from Plymouth, Michigan, Crystal and Joe Kowalis always knew they wanted to retire in the south. Fortunately, their daughter and son-in-law – who were living in Charleston at the same time Crystal and Joe were looking for retirement options – recommended that they visit Daniel Island.

“We had previously made six trips in search of places to retire in the south, but we immediately fell in love with Daniel Island the minute we stepped foot on it,” says Crystal. With two years left until they planned to retire, they decided to buy a condominium at Daniel’s Landing in the island’s downtown.

“We bought the condominium with our daughter’s in-laws and tried to visit whenever we could,” says Crystal. But with Joe working as an engineer and Crystal a schoolteacher, it was difficult to get away as much as they would have liked.

“We had owned the condominium for only about eight months when our real estate agent suggested we look at a house in Center Park that had recently come on the market. We weren’t ready to move yet, but it was the perfect home for us, so we decided to go ahead and make an offer. We’ve never once regretted that decision,” says Crystal.

Crystal and Joe retired and moved to Daniel Island as full-time residents in 2005. Once they settled in, Crystal began looking for an activity to keep her busy.

“I’ve always had a lot of energy, and being retired from teaching school left a void that I felt I needed to fill,” commented Crystal. It was at that time that Joe bought her a membership to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Crystal had already helped many friends and colleagues get organized while living in Michigan, so this felt like a good next step. Crystal went on to get certified as a professional organizer and started to network her business both on Daniel Island and in the surrounding Charleston area.

“The business just started to take off. I was helping clients move into new homes, move out of their old homes, and get re-organized in their current homes,” says Crystal.

As a professional organizer, Crystal learns about her client’s personalities as well as their priorities. She then begins to work with them to help them decide which items they really use and want to keep, and which items just get in their way. The next step is finding a permanent and logical place for every single thing. Most of all, she tries to keep the work atmosphere pleasant, and even fun. Many of her clients have become permanent friends.

“I put a lot of humor into my work. You have to – it can be very difficult to bring a stranger into your home and empty out all your drawers and closets in front of them,” continues Crystal. “I do my best to make my clients feel comfortable and get them to make decisions that will, in the end, make their lives much less stressful because they won’t be spending a lot of extra time trying to find things. Or, they won’t be spending extra money on items that they already own and didn’t know they had.”

Crystal takes pride in getting to know her clients and discovering their likes and dislikes.

“It’s like a big puzzle that needs to be solved,” says Crystal. “The idea is to create zones. In a kitchen, we’ll methodically empty everything out of each drawer and cabinet. If my client likes to bake, for example, we decide which things to keep, and then we gather all the utensils, bowls, baking pans and appliances and containerize what we can before placing them within closer reach. Next, we tackle another zone.”

Crystal confesses that it’s not always an easy job to come into a someone’s home and start suggesting alternative solutions for getting organized, such as donating some items to Goodwill or throwing some things away.

“Sometimes it takes a lot of hand holding,” she says. “I once had a client that owned an uncanny number of scissors that they just couldn’t part with. And that was OK. We merely found a special space to store all those scissors. I’ve found that people can also be very sentimental about their personal items. I have strategies and solutions for organizing those kinds of things, too.”

In addition to homes, Crystal also organizes garages, home offices, clothing closets and even children’s playrooms. For more information about how Crystal can help you get organized, visit