When Monica Miraglilo acquired her initial household in East Falls in the 1990s, she understood it would get a good deal of work to rework it into a house.
The spot required to be totally gutted — partitions demolished, cabinets hung, tile laid. But Miraglilo experienced a desire for what it could be. She envisioned a huge kitchen for entertaining buddies and household from out of town. And, like so several Philadelphians, she fell in like with the previous house’s original character: stone partitions, hardwood floors … potential.
“I realized that even nevertheless it was a massive undertaking that I would at some point make the house a household,” she suggests. “I experienced a daughter that was 3 likely on four and I really required to give her a household that we could get in touch with her possess.”
Her family members and good friends weren’t as optimistic. Miraglilo was a solitary mother with a qualifications in modeling. She’d never ever done any construction or layout operate. How would she take care of such a massive undertaking?
Women of all ages have lengthy faced barriers to coming into and carrying out construction get the job done. In 2020, only 10.9 p.c of employees in the sector ended up gals, per Bureau of Labor Stats data. A 2021 report from the Institute for Women’s Coverage Study identified that 39 p.c of gals and non-binary people take into account leaving building or other trades since they felt they weren’t getting taken significantly.
“Starting out can be scary, but to see other women of all ages dominating in all aspects of rehabbing is empowering,” suggests Matasa Williams. “It presents me self confidence and lets me know I’m not alone.”
But Miraglilo persisted. “It was undoubtedly a cash pit,” she suggests, “But no just one was heading to inform me that I could not do it.” And, she did it: Preset the household (with some assist from strangers she fulfilled in Home Depot), and turned it into a showroom that eventually launched a layout-rehab enterprise.
3 a long time later, she’s helping other girls split into the home renovation and layout organizations. Her organization, Girlbuild, hosts digital workshops that educate girls how to renovate, design and style, finance, and handle their have property rehab tasks. The business’s initial collection of classes released past thirty day period. Much more not long ago, Girlbuild has partnered with the Aequo Fund to enable users finance first renovation initiatives.
An entrepreneur is born
Prior to Miraglilo grew to become Philly’s version of the House Brothers, she labored as a design for QVC. In the early aughts, she left that work to her individual interior style and design enterprise. In 2005, she married her partner, Mike, who’d go on to develop into a basic contractor. In 2006, she opened Fill a Pillow, a home goods shop in Haverford, which highlighted her very own styles.
She ran the store for a couple several years — but could not resist the entice of the fixer-upper. A couple decades afterwards, she took a style position for a design organization. She favored the layout component, but preferred to be palms-on. She followed co-personnel to sites, and worked beside them. “I started out laying tile. I began knocking walls down,” she states. At some point, she took the OSHA certification she essential to grow to be a licensed contractor in Philadelphia.
In 2017, she and Mike teamed up to start Miraglilo Qualities, a true estate progress enterprise that buys and renovates houses from rowhomes to residences to multi-use industrial spaces. Mike focuses on the constructing factors, and Monica sales opportunities the interior design endeavours — but each can be witnessed wielding ability applications and sledgehammers on Monica’s Instagram.
Following a number of many years of performing in rehab, Miraglilo obtained fed up with design apparel. Clothes produced for the trade were boxy and unattractive, even though eye-catching clothes bought ruined on job sites. So, she started developing and marketing tough-donning — and sweet — sweatshirts, t-shirts, challenging hats, and jumpsuits for females performing design. (Didn’t harm that she herself, who even now dabbles in modeling, modeled the parts.)
She introduced her Girlbuild line in October of 2020. Today, the pieces array from branded tees and cropped sweatshirts to distressed denim overalls, camo jumpsuits and neon hazard trousers that are as purposeful as they are modern. They even market a white challenging hat with a Chanel-model emblem with the initials GB, with a hammer in the centre.
“Women want to come to feel confident about what they’re putting on,” Miraglilo suggests. “I’m likely to give them some thing that is great, that appears excellent and that they can nonetheless come to feel competent in.”
As her clothes corporation constructed a pursuing, so did her Instagram account. The comments and DMs from women of all ages who wished both equally development web page-deserving clothing — and suggestions — appeared nonstop.
“One working day when I was just sitting close to and I recognized that you know what? No one particular else is heading to help us if we really don’t support ourselves,” she says.
So Miraglilo pivoted. Yet again. This time, to instructional material generation. Past thirty day period, approximately two many years just after starting up Girlbuild’s clothing line, she released the company’s to start with established of 14 digital workshops — like MasterClasses, for getting and flipping a residence.
The periods deal with every single stage of the rehab method, from how to perform with a real estate agent to discover a property really worth getting to how to demolish walls and install cupboards and flooring. Interior layout assistance also. It’s anything Miraglilo wished anyone experienced taught her years back in East Falls.
“I gained that prospect to develop and to find out the business phase-by-step. I desired to give back again and clearly show other women the stepping stones,” she states.
Speakers for the very first collection consist of Ben Goff with OSHA, Philadelphia Rica Suhanec, an architectural account executive with Sherwin Williams and realtor Maria Quattrone, from RE/MAX. She designs to preserve including video clips that delve into much more state-of-the-art design topics as properly as marketing and advertising and other small business techniques.
A Girlbuild membership expenses $147 and incorporates accessibility to the workshops and quarterly one-on-a person Zooms with Miraglilo. She envisions the periods will aid both equally homeowners seeking to make a handful of improvements and girls wanting to a career in design and authentic estate improvement.
For the latter group, Girlbuild has partnered with the Aequo Fund, a $6.2 million and rising fund designed to assistance early job developers, to assist customers finance their initial renovation job.
Established by Ernst Valery (also a lecturer for the Girlbuild workshops) in 2021, the Aequo fund seeks to finance tasks by community, undercapitalized developers, which includes gals and men and women of color, with a bent toward supporting these who are doing the job on cost-effective housing tasks. The fund is now active in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, Portland and Richmond. The fund’s identify translates to “make equal” in Latin.
Miraglilo achieved Valery as a result of a real estate agent and has worked with him on a amount of Philly-primarily based jobs. The fund will upfront the expenses of purchasing a Girlbuild workshop member’s 1st household and supporting the prices of design in any region the place the fund is active for renovation, in exchange for a portion of the project’s gains on the sale of the house. They are presently in the approach of producing the complete details of how the system will functionality.
“They in essence will enable fund your initial flip,” Miraglilo states.
The workshops are considerably less than a month previous — as well early for Miraglilo to sense comfortable sharing membership or revenue figures. She plans to start out marketing the workshops by means of social media and partnerships with firms like Sherwin Williams, exactly where she’s released a collaborative paint palette.
Matasa Williams is one particular of Girlbuild’s first associates. The Brooklyn-based mostly Television set producer found the enterprise last 12 months though scrolling via Instagram for posts mentioning Philly house renovations. Williams, like so several of us, has an abiding curiosity in interior style, specifically fixer-uppers.
“I like the procedure of viewing what a distressed home could possibly be if you place in the get the job done,” she states.
Williams acquired a dwelling in St. Louis in 2019 with the intention of doing the job with nearby builders to renovate and flip it. But her absence of practical experience budgeting for the building expenditures and vetting contractors brought on the project to drag on for two yrs.
But, like Miraglilo at the time was, Williams is determined. She’s now started classes and received a person-on-just one rehab coaching from Miraglilo. She’ll want it: She lately obtained three fixer-uppers in Philly. She credits Girlbuild’s with supplying her the resources to start off the work.
“I’ve uncovered how to thoroughly estimate expenditures and incorporate padding for sudden fees I’ve realized to effectively vet contractors and I’ve figured out a several hands-on skills that help transfer the course of action together and help save income,” Williams claims. “Starting out can be overwhelming, but to see other women of all ages dominating in all aspects of rehabbing is empowering. It presents me assurance and lets me know I’m not on your own.”
Miraglilo’s biggest hope for Girlbuild is that it will be an empowerment initiative for women of all ages intrigued in the building field. Nevertheless the family marketed their East Falls residence previously this July, Miraglilo even now has fond recollections of the get the job done and the pieces of herself she virtually put into those people partitions.
She thinks of her individual daughter, now 27, who got to check out her mother renovate their very first household and imagines a potential in which little women perform with doll residences — and dream about constructing their personal properties.
“I want [my daughter] to see me as a solid, independent, self-confident girl,” she claims. “ I want her to be empowered and just know that she can do anything and it does not make any difference if she’s a girl or not. She is unstoppable, invincible and can conquer all items that she puts her mind to.”
Extra Advancement FOR Great IN PHILLY
Image courtesy Girlbuild