Gertrude Navikas is proud of the work she and her employees accomplish for her Dust Bunnys Maid Service clients.
"It's a deep clean every time. We do the hands and knees," Navikas said.
The Lowell resident began cleaning houses a few years ago as a way to pay her way through nursing school.
Three years ago, though, Navikas made the decision to go into business to give herself the flexibility she needed to care for her ailing father. "It was what I chose to do. ... Dad died in November," she said.
Navikas is all about flexibility – for herself, her employees and her clients.
"As a single mom, it allows me to be with my kids. I have a son who is a freshman at IU, a daughter who's a sophomore at the high school and a 7-year old at St. Marys (Elementary School in Crown Point)," Navikas said.
The businesswoman said she hires both women and men, most of which hold other part-time jobs. Some are single parents. "I work around their schedules with their other jobs. I want to be able to help them because I understand," Navikas said.
Unlike some cleaning services, all employees are insured and bonded, and there are no client contracts. "I don't want to lock people in," she said.
The three years have held one surprise, Navikas said. "I did not know I would grow as fast as I did."
Dust Bunnys Maid Service has clients reaching west to Crete and Grant Park in Illinois, north to Hammond and south to DeMotte, Roselawn and Wheatfield. Most are residential, but she has commercial clients as well.
In addition to residential, office and commercial cleaning services, the company offers post-construction cleaning and one-time services.
Navikas said she knows some clients had thought a cleaning service would be too expensive for them until they talked to her. "I provide free estimates. We charge by the job, not the hour," she said.
Navikas said she always meets with potential clients to see their house or office to be cleaned and learn what is expected before sending an employee on the job.
In many cases, Navikas said she is contacted by children of elderly parents and retained to clean and sometimes organize their spaces.
One gentleman, she said, was a hoarder, so Dust Bunnys Maid Service was hired to remove unnecessary items and clean. It is a service she gladly provides.
All senior citizens and veterans receive a 25 percent discount.
Navikas has fun with promotions. Most recently, $50 gift certificates for cleaning services included complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberries and a bottle of wine. "It's what every woman wants," she said with enthusiasm.
Continued growth is Navikas' goal. Someday, she would like to have company vehicles and an office outside her home.
In the meantime, she finds it a pleasure to go to work every day.
"I have some really nice customers," she said.