The Winners Circle – Naples Style May 2015

Sandra Lee BuxtonAll stories deserve a happy ending and Michelle Kotarski’s story is no exception. That is certainly where her story is now but not where it once was. I met Michelle at a Dress for Success event where she spoke to the attendees about her life since connecting with this organization. She was inspiring as she spoke about overcoming obstacles and moving forward to the place she’s in now.

Quick with a genuine smile and a warm affect she captured the hearts of the audience. That’s the Success part, but let’s go back aways and see how she arrived at her “today.”

Michelle was the middle child in a family of three siblings who grew up in Ohio and had a traditional Midwestern upbringing. She states that she had good parents and an uneventful childhood but that wasn’t enough.

The prevailing feeling during childhood and as a young adult was depression and feeling lost. She could not define where the sad feelings were coming from but there was a sense of emptiness. Bright scholastically she earned a bachelor’s degree in college but still was not solid in her beliefs about herself nor did she have a clear focus.

Michelle KotarskeSomewhere along the way Michelle totally lost her grounding and made poor decisions, which affected her professionally and personally. She met a man that she felt was right for her and intended to settle down, have a family and live happily ever after. It was not expected when she finally discovered that the dream man was actually a nightmare.

Feeling trapped and uncertain on how to leave safely, she stayed in an abusive relationship “too long”.

She states that she was exploited financially and emotionally and knew that she could not raise a child this way. It took some time to make a plan, and gather the courage to leave safely with her son.

She made the break and has gotten her life back in order, but it took time, determination, changed behaviors and focus.

Michelle moved to Naples at the encouragement of her father in 2011. Not knowing how to reestablished herself she became acquainted with Dress for Success where she received guidance, and the tools for a fresh start. She took a small business class provided by Goodwill of Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise Institute.

With the knowledge she gained from her classes and the confidence to success she started her own business Michelle’s Royal Cleaning Service in 2013.

She proudly participates in all resources that are at her disposal and visits a SCORE counselor for advice and ongoing assistance. She is still being mentored by Dress for Success and relies on their expertise.

She values her friends from church for not only support but also guidance. Michelle has a very adult perspective on her life; she owns her errors but does not dwell on them, for that’s her past.

Today she feels happy and content and is making a loving home for her four-year-old son Sam and is independent in meeting their needs.

Her business has grown to the extent that she is now looking for a business partner to expand further.

It’s fair to say that her active preschooler is her first love and she looks forward to each day with him. Sam is all boy, a beautiful child with eyes the color of the pure Caribbean waters and the spirit of a young colt. They love going to parks and the beach together, Michelle and Sam share quiet time by reading and she is also a proud Sunday school teacher.

Feeling blessed for the life she has, she is excited to give back to others. To reach Michelle, email her at We all know the phrase “It’s not where you start but where you finish that counts,” and this certainly applies to Michelle.

Winners overcome, they don’t give up, and they don’t make excuses, they make a plan. We welcome Michelle to the Winners Circle Naples Style, she’s earned it.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.