The “OG of the OC,” Vicki Gunvalson has appeared on The Real Housewives of Orange County since the beginning. As a successful entreprenuer, reality star, mother and grandmother, she has redefined what is means to be a powerful modern woman. Her ability to evolve but stay true to her roots as life has progressed has led her to become America’s most loved reality star as she has continually invited us into her home and hearts for the last 12 seasons of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Born in 1962 in a small Northwest suburb of Chicago, Vicki is one of 5 children. Her father owned a large construction company and her mother was a stay at home mom who cooked every night for the family, babysitters were a rarity and she always looked impeccable. Family was their priority and to this day Vicki carries those same core values.
Growing up, Vicki was taught her work ethic from her father. She remembers sitting in their family room at the age of 10 with her father laying out all the bills on the table in front of her 5 siblings and showing them all how to budget. He showed them his paycheck from his company, how he set aside 15% for their savings and how to pay bills in a timely manner. Paying late or paying interest on credit cards was nothing he wanted any of them to do. He taught them to live within their means, to pray, to be thankful for what they had and to always strive to get better and better in every area of their life. Those formative years watching her father’s work ethic and tenacity for life inspired who she is today.
Vicki became a single mother at the age of 29 and at that time was working part time at her father’s construction company processing Payroll, Accounts Payables and Receivables. Her father did not train her and wasn’t formally educated in accounting so therefore taught herself. One of her close friends advised her to purchase a life insurance policy on herself as she was the breadwinner for herself and her 2 small children. After further discussions with her friend, she decided to get licensed to sell life and health insurance with her as it seemed like a good career for a working mother.
She started at a captive insurance company and the first year became top saleswoman amongst 1 other woman, and 35 men. It was career that she loved, as she was able to control her own schedule, and there was no limit to the amount of money she could earn.
At the young age of 59, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and passed away at 67. Unfortunately, not planning for an early death, her parents were unprepared what was ahead for her mother. Her mother worked nights at a local grocery store bake shop to receive health benefits and to earn extra money. It was a tough time for Vicki and her siblings and one of the reasons she became so passionate in elder insurance.
In 1994 Vicki was remarried and moved to California to follow her husband’s career. She regained her insurance licensed in CA and started her own agency out of her home selling life insurance and medicare supplements. In 2005, with the premeir of The Real Housewives of Orange County”, her life moved in yet another direction
Vicki is the proud owner of Coto Insurance and Financial Services, Inc, Woo Hoo Productions, LLC and Diamonds by Vicki.
“My most distinguished role has always been being a mother,” Vicki says proudly. Her son Michael, now Vice President of Coto Insurance is following in her footsteps and is one of the top producing Life Insurance Agents in her company. Her daughter Briana, formerly a triage nurse is married to Ryan a Marine and together they have 2 children Troy and Owen.
In her book “More than a Housewife”, Vicki shares her personal insights as she learned how to recognize her purpose and direction. She shares with her readers what it took to create a profitable business and comfortable lifestyle for her and her family.
“It wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to make it and I knew I could and I pulled that strength from my father’s wisdom” she stats.
When it comes to her business, Vicki’s enthusiasm is unequaled. “I love helping others and I feel as though every business customer is a family member”, Vicki says genuinely.
Vicki attributes her ambition to her DNA. “I have a fierce drive for success that I received from my parents. With the success of the show, I have newfound zest for life, more than I ever thought possible. I do believe that when one knows more, they need more.” She adds, “One lifetime is not enough for me”.
This season, her relationship with new beau Steve is getting serious as they start talking about marriage. With her daughter Briana and grandbabies settled into their newly finished home, Vicki has taken on the role of Briana’s “OC Husband” while Ryan waits to be discharged from the Marines back in Oklahoma. Vicki’s businesses are also growing as COTO Insurance merges with a partner to form COTO Insurance & Financial, leading to a stressful office move. But unresolved tensions between her, Tamra and Shannon still remain.