We鈥檙e all on the hunt for a girls鈥 night out or first date idea that will seriously wow our gal pals or potential significant others, because honestly, dinner out and viewing parties of The Bachelor can get a little old. Well, one #girlboss is providing us all with an ideal night out with her company, Wine & Design. After Harriet Mills was laid off from her corporate job, she turned to鈥 wine. A few glasses later,聽she came up with a plan, and a business was born. We sat down with Harriet to figure out how it all came together, what keeps the train running and her best advice for #girlbosses around the world.

Harriet Mills

B+C: What were you up to before starting Wine & Design?

HM: I started Wine & Design during the recession 鈥 right after being laid off from my corporate job in sales for fine china. My life hit a major bump in the road as I also had a new four-month-old at home. I needed to get back to work FAST! So, I did the logical thing: headed to a local paint and sip studio, had a few glasses of wine and took a painting class. At the end of the class, I had two things: a pretty decent painting and the inspiration for a new business: Wine & Design.

I knew I had to find something that provided both the income and flexibility needed to support my growing family, so the idea of starting a paint-and-sip business seemed like the perfect opportunity. With nothing to lose except a very small family loan, I jumped right in.


B+C: So Wine & Design seems like a no-brainer. How did you make the dream a reality?

HM: It is a no brainer! It鈥檚 fun for everyone; it鈥檚 a great business to be a part of both as a franchisee and as a customer looking for a fun evening out. This definitely helped to make my dream a reality. After starting the first Wine & Design in Raleigh, our most talented artists fell in love with the concept as a business for themselves, and from there our first franchise came to be. After that, word of mouth, customer experience and savvy investors have looked to us for a fun and successful business model. When you offer a business that can make聽anyone鈥檚 dream a reality, it鈥檚 easy to keep growing.

Wine & Design Promo Still

B+C: What type of atmosphere can attendees of a Wine & Design event expect?

HM: We strive to offer a fun, laid back and creative environment. Most of our customers are coming to our studios after work and looking to unwind. We like to think of ourselves as an upscale happy hour destination. We want everyone to be a part of our nightly parties and leave with a piece of art they are proud of and memories they鈥檒l think of each time they look at their masterpiece.

B+C: Do you think it鈥檚 important for women entrepreneurs to help each other out?

HM: Absolutely. I don鈥檛 think any successful business owner got where they are without leaning on others for advice and support. Unfortunately, I think we still have a long way to go in terms of women having an equal playing field in the workforce, and I鈥檝e personally experienced pushback not only for being female but also for building a business that has a mostly female customer base. We rely so much on the consult of fellow females in business; they offer us an insight and understanding that quite frankly we just don鈥檛 get anywhere else. As women, we face a unique set of obstacles and having the support of fellow female entrepreneurs is so important, not only for us, but for our franchisees as well.

My main inspiration to begin this business was to build a career that provided the flexibility needed to maintain a healthy work-life balance and a fun, family-focused atmosphere that left plenty of room to be a successful entrepreneur and mom. We鈥檙e there for our franchisees in that regard and will always go out of our way to help women (even outside of the paint and sip industry) where we can.

Heather and Maggie

B+C: Do you think being a mom has an effect on how you run your business?

HM: Absolutely. Being a mom has had an effect on every facet of my life. Aside from the typical work-life balance that all working moms struggle with, I think it鈥檚 helped me to identify with and motivate many of our franchisees who also have children. It鈥檚 also shaped how I do business so that my own daughter can see what possibilities are out there for her. The biggest impact being a mom has had on how I run my business is the constant pressure to be a role model, which I鈥檓 grateful for. I鈥檓 showing my children that it is okay to work, be a wife and a friend all at the same time鈥 I鈥檓 showing them that you can be whatever you want to be without sacrificing the people and things you love.

B+C: What do you think has been your key to success?

HM: It鈥檚 impossible to point to one thing. I think it鈥檚 a culmination of having a vision, working hard and having support. I鈥檝e always been extremely goal oriented. I work well under pressure and I thrive on growing my business 鈥 but I know I wouldn鈥檛 be where I am without the support I鈥檝e gotten from my family and friends and the amazing team that we have here at our headquarters. I鈥檝e been so lucky in finding franchisees and employees who are just as passionate as I am about my business and its success. I think that鈥檚 probably what has contributed the most to the continued success of Wine & Design.

Corporate Group Pic (1)

B+C: What鈥檚 your best advice for someone who鈥檚 recently been laid off & maybe not feeling too hot about their situation right now?

HM: It sounds clich茅, but the best advice I can give is: Do what makes you happy. Find your passion, do what makes you feel like the best version of yourself and find a way to integrate that into your work. We鈥檙e not always lucky enough to find a job right away that we鈥檙e totally passionate about, but always keep those goals in the back of your mind and make choices based on what will bring you closer to those goals.

B+C: If you could tell every aspiring #girlboss one thing right now, what would it be?

HM: Do what you love and don鈥檛 apologize for it! Whether you鈥檙e already on a girlboss journey or have yet to take the first step toward your goals and aspirations 鈥 own your passion and believe in yourself, and more importantly, believe in knowing that anything is possible. The road to success is full of failures; embrace them 鈥 they鈥檒l be part of your success one day if you keep moving forward.

Tag us in your GNO pics @BritandCo!

(Photos via Wine & Design)