Who runs the world? Girls – and they’re built to build. We sat down with Girlbuild founder, Monica Miraglilo, to talk about her boundary-breaking initiative that’s empowering women in the development and construction industry to design their dream life.
Q: Can you share a little about Girlbuild with our readers?
A: At Girlbuild we’re all about building women, building lives, building dreams and building homes.
At our core, we strive to be an empowerment initiative for women in the development and construction industry. It’s a platform that not only appreciates women who’ve made the bold move to enter this industry, but also encourages those that are considering this career.
This is so important to me because when I entered this field, there weren’t a lot of resources. I needed more than a typical DIY video on YouTube and more than a couple of quick tips on social media. I was renovating homes in Philadelphia, a major U.S. city. At that time, I was fortunate to be trained by one of the best builders who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. As I reflected on my experiences, my goal was to start a community that shares and provides access to resources, expert knowledge and tools for women to confidently embark in this market through experience-based education. And I’m proud to say we’ve done that by starting Girlbuild.
Q: We love that you’re paving the way for other women like you! Do you have any other exciting Girlbuild updates in the works?
A: Girlbuild has just launched the Girlbuild Lab. A female-friendly online video platform that shares information, tips, and resources for women in construction. We’ll be covering everything from real estate to finance, installation to design – all the things I wish I knew before I began this journey. When women show up to a job site they should feel just as comfortable and confident as their peers. That’s what we’re about. That’s our mission.
Q: How did you get your start as a self-taught entrepreneur?
A: Contrary to belief, it wasn’t an education. It was a passion, an impulse, and most importantly, a belief in myself. I believe you must have those things if you want to do anything in this world.
My first business was a pillow store on the Main Line, a suburb of Philadelphia. I opened it in 2006. I was recently married, my daughter was starting private school, I had a baby on the way… everyone thought I was insane, but I’ve never really been one to let opinions deter me. I started my business because I loved fashion, design and creating beautiful spaces. I would walk into designer showrooms or thrift stores and spend hours looking at fabrics and vintage scarves and then I would sit and try and figure out which two patterns paired well together to turn them into a pillow. That soon became a business that sat on one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.
Even though things didn’t work out, I learned a lot, particularly to embrace failure, which is a really difficult thing to do. No one wants to do that. People want to admit to success, but I think failure deserves just as much credit because it teaches you patience, humbleness, resilience and to get back up and try again! Those lessons were used to fuel my next step. I didn’t let it affect my love for the trade. I stayed steady, and now Girlbuild, the fruit of all my labor, is finally here.
Q: Women are builders too – what has been your favorite part of creating a network for them?
A: Without question, my favorite part is showing women the possibilities. Women are so incredible, so magical and the backbone to building everything! Families, lives, relationships! I don’t think there’s a thing on this planet a woman can’t do, but so many of us have been conditioned into believing we’re only meant for one or two things. I think we’ve been chained to “only,” when it’s so far from reality. I think many of us have forgotten how capable we are, so I’m here to remind them through Girlbuild.
Remember, I’m not inventing anything new, the Girlbuild mission is not about creating a new place for women, it’s about getting women to remember, “I can do this too and here is the access to do it.”
Q: When you’re not building homes, you’re putting a lot of TLC into their interiors. How do you decide what the style of the space is going to be?
A: It’s a creative process and something I need to always keep feeding with inspiration. Our family travels a lot and the cultural exposure that I gain heavily influences my decor choices. That and my long history in the fashion industry. Before I started renovating homes, I was a fashion model. I worked with designers, photographers, and set creators – everything had “a look” and I carry that same sentiment when I style my homes.
Q: How does color come into play once you’re ready to paint?
A: Since many of the homes I work on are rehabs in the city of Philadelphia, I typically keep things neutral and clean so the new homeowner can make it their own. I love color, but I prefer to play it safe with these types of projects. I select neutral colors with cool hues on all the walls. Cool hues are psychologically proven to encourage a state of calm, so I always do that in my homes. Although, if things are feeling dull to me, I’ll do a pop of color for the accents, usually that turns out to be on doors, trim or a statement wall.
Q: We’re loving the new Sherwin-Williams x Girlbuild Fall/Winter palette. Can you share some of the inspiration behind the hues you chose?
A: Now that fall has arrived, I’m so excited to use a pop of color inspired by the leaves and greenery. I chose several hues like Iron Ore, Aleutian, Naval, Evergreen Fog, Red Bay, and Blackberry (just to name a few) because of their richness and earthy feel! For my newest project, I’m using Urbane Bronze which I love for doors and architectural details. It’s so warm, yet bold, and gives a regal feeling.
Q: What’s your go-to Sherwin-Williams color?
A: I love Alpaca. It’s a great wall color that you can’t go wrong with. It gives off a very light and clean feeling that’s cool and calming.