Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

SIMPLER SOLUTIONS: “We look at everyone as a celebrity, and we are their personal assistant, be it for one hour or however long they need us.” Missy Maxwell (left) and Kathy Kowrach are owners of A Simpler Life Concierge, a new organization that helps people balance their work and life-style needs..

Time Management and Organizational Help Are Offered by a Simpler Life Concierge

The car has to be inspected; the dog must be taken to the groomer; Dad needs a ride to the doctor; invitations have to be sent out for the July 4th barbecue. Then, there’s the dry cleaning, the trumpet lessons, the hair appointments and on top of everything, the water heater just quit!

Talk about sleep deprivation. If all this sounds familiar, you can benefit from the services of A Simpler Life Concierge. Just opened June 1, this organization’s entire focus is to help you find free time to enjoy life. They want to take over your “To Do List”!

“We offer personal and corporate assistance in getting things done. People have such busy lives today, they need help,” explain owners Missy Maxwell and Kathy Kowrach. “There is no such thing as a 40-hour work week anymore, so when weekends come around, people have to do all the chores and errands they couldn’t get to during the week. We want to help them, so that when the weekend comes, they can relax and just let their mind coast.”

There is no question that trying to balance one’s work obligations with family and home is increasingly challenging. The time-saving technology offered by computers and all their spawns You Tube, FaceBook, cell phones, texting, twitter, iPods and iPads, and the like can often create even more stress by the sheer volume of messages and connections that the technology affords.

Less Time

It brings to mind a passage from Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Magnificent Ambersons, remarking on the rising importance of the automobile in people’s lives at the turn of the 19th Century: “The faster we are carried, the less time we have to spare.”

It may even be more relevant today. How to catch a break?

A Simpler Life Concierge provides affordable solutions for the necessary management of errands and household responsibilities. Ms. Maxwell and Ms. Kowrach and their staff help a wide range of individuals and also businesses: a 2-income family, a single mom, a busy executive, a small business, and a person who just needs help with some of life’s everyday tasks from ironing to cleaning the closets to filling out medical claims.

Although they opened only a few weeks ago, they already have clients, reports Ms. Maxwell. “We recently helped a friend whose mother had turned 80 and wants to go to next year’s Rose Bowl. We have arranged it, found a hotel, got airline tickets, and she’s all set to go!

“In another case, we found a dermatologist for a client. We researched different doctors, checked out the insurance, and then made an appointment for him. Kathy has also taken a dog to the pet groomer recently.”

These services helped clients in Moorestown, Cranford, and Hamilton, and Ms. Maxwell and Ms. Kowrach plan to focus on areas in central and northern New Jersey.

Top Requests

Before opening the business, the owners conducted an on-line survey to discover what bothered people the most and where they were most anxious to have assistance. “The top requests were taking the car for inspection, taking the pet to the vet or groomer, and waiting on the phone.”

Imagine the pure pleasure of being relieved of these responsibilities when you are very busy. And not to have to wait for the plumber, contractor, cable guy who doesn’t arrive until 4:30 (after you have stayed home all day), or maybe doesn’t show up at all! And who hasn’t experienced the phone stress of being shuttled from one uninformed representative to another when trying to get help for an out-of-order TV, computer, or malfunctioning telephone.

“We ask people to fill out a questionnaire,” notes Ms. Kowrach. “This way we have a sense of their needs and life-style. If people want us to shop for groceries, for example we can leave non-perishables on their back porch. Or if they want us to put things in the refrigerator, we can do that. We have liability insurance so we can go in the house.”

Both Ms. Maxwell and Ms. Kowrach have corporate backgrounds with Merrill Lynch, and this experience will serve them well in their new work. For corporations or small businesses, they can provide administrative assistance, courier/delivery service, travel planning/arrangements, internet research, proofreading/editing, airport pick-up and drop-off, event planning, corporate gift baskets, event/sporting/concert tickets, out-of-town client coordination, and traveling notary.

Entire Event

Specialty services include wedding planning including planning and arranging the entire event, also arranging and booking hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests, and honeymoon travel arrangements. Or just addressing and mailing the invitations. “We can do as much or as little as the bride wants,” says Ms. Maxwell.

As a former military wife, Ms. Maxwell has a great deal of experience in relocating. Moving offers no problem! From the first garage sale to finding the mover to helping stage the house and selecting the realtor, A Simpler Life Concierge can do it all.

They can also help the real estate firm by taking photos, handling signage, planning open houses, purchasing and sending closing gifts to clients, among other services.

“With all the different things we can do and all the people we will meet, we know every day will be different,” says Ms. Kowrach.

Personal Attention

In addition to the services they will provide themselves, they have access to specialists, such as feng shui experts, massage therapists, and general contractors.

And whether they are helping a client downsize and arrange for an appraisal of antique furniture, waiting in a store to return an item, walking the dog, feeding the cat, or shopping for a birthday gift, they approach all their jobs with a strong sense of commitment and personal attention.

“There are some others doing this work, but they tend to be much more specialized,” points out Ms. Maxwell. “We offer such a broad spectrum of services. We like being around people. Everyone is unique, and we like to help them out. We will give them the best service we can. Our goal is to ensure that the clients receive the same kind of caring, responsible, and quality service we would expect ourselves.”

A Simpler Life Concierge is a member of the International Concierge and Life-style Management Association; its staff members are graduates of Triangle Concierge Training.

Pricing varies, with several packages available, including monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. Hourly service arrangements are also offered. (609) 631-4397;; website:

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