Michelle Bosse-Velilla found her way to Women, Work, and Community in 2006. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mom considering starting her own childcare business. She had no idea what was involved but had the desire to try. She began working individually with a business counselor at WWC, and their relationship continues to this day. In describing her early days working with WWC, Michelle says, “I didn’t have the slightest idea what was involved in starting a business, but my enthusiasm for working with kids and the consistent support from Women, Work, and Community helped me get started.”
Michelle began by developing basic business start-up plans and learning what is involved in being a business owner. The Maine Small Business Development Center assisted Michelle in crafting her cash flow projections. As her confidence grew, she decided to seek financing to get her business up and running. Initially she was denied and told by one of the lenders that she needed more education in the early childhood field. Undaunted, Michelle enrolled in college to earn her Associates Degree in Child Development. While getting her degree, she continued to work with WWC to improve and hone her skills as a business woman. “I met with WWC’s Shirley Hamilton monthly. Together, we would create a list of goals that helped keep me focused. I would come in each month with a list of questions, and she’d answer everything.”
With her degree in hand, Michelle revisited business lenders and was successful this time in getting a start-up loan for $5,000. The time had arrived to open her doors. She officially opened Totally Kidz Childcare and Learning Center in February of 2010 with a State of Maine childcare license for twenty children ages two and a half through twelve. The business grew rapidly as Totally Kidz became known as a quality childcare center in Lewiston.
As fate would have it, an opportunity for expansion fell into Michelle’s lap; more space was opening up in the building where the business was already housed. Michelle took a leap of faith and expanded into the new space using cash flow from the business to expand and remodel. The expansion was complete in June of 2011, and Michelle currently has space to provide early education and quality care to seventy-five children ages six weeks through twelve years old.
As Michelle looks back from where she is today to where she started six years ago, she admits that sheer determination and tenacity kept her going as well as the support she received from WWC. Today, Michelle contributes to the workforce in a variety of ways: she is a successful business owner; she is an employer with a staff of six including herself; and recently she was able to promote one of her teachers to assistant director of the center. And, perhaps most importantly, she provides a safe and engaging place where parents can feel comfortable leaving their children, and she’s doing work that she loves.
Michelle now serves as an Ambassador for WWC. She says, “I am honored to represent such a wonderful organization.”