Beth Beck, Aimee Woolverton, Dana Brook, Megan Huff, and Gail Delger
What a difference a year makes. Twelve short months ago, Millhouse wasn’t much more than a passionate vision. It began with the concept of a creative coworking space for women seeking to answer the question, “How can we empower each other to succeed in our passions?” Now the vision has evolved into two nonprofit organizations, MillHouse Foundation and MillHouse McKinney, and a facility featuring 6,000 feet of creativity where women support, encourage, and inspire one another.
Millhouse was the brainchild of retired NASA Open Innovation Program Manager Dr. Beth Beck, who imagined a space where female artists and entrepreneurs would invest in one another’s successes. “Women work differently together—not better, not worse, just differently,” she said.
“We want to provide a welcoming environment where a woman can walk through the door and say, ‘I have a dream’ and get advice on how to get started.
We give women a home away from home, with space to meet with clients, hold workshops, or just to kick off their shoes and brainstorm over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. In the beginning, we relied on external experts for weekly seminars, but with so many members wanting to share their expertise, now our speakers are often the members themselves. And external speakers are signing up for membership.”
Millhouse McKinney at the Cotton Mill now consists of five dedicated art studios, one shared photography/wellness studio, and a shared coworking space including a kitchen, dining room, living room, and private areas to hold events and meet with clients. An operating principle is “every woman is an entrepreneur at heart.” Millhouse provides the space to co-work or play, relax and recharge, and feed that entrepreneurial spirit. “Members have found ways to help other members we never envisioned,” Beth said. “We have an interior design team using artwork from artist members to stage homes for their business, but also helping promote and sell their art. Another member with a marketing experience is helping members launch their online stores. Their generosity day to day is what makes this work.”
Beth says that generosity began with the owners of The Cotton Mill. “We wouldn’t be here without the enthusiastic support of Terry and McCall Casey,” Beth said. “Right from the start, they wanted us to succeed. Terry walked us into this space and said, ‘We see art and women flourishing here. How do we make it happen?’ And as we’re adjusting to the changes the coronavirus has brought, they’re opening up access to additional spaces in the Cotton Mill to allow us to conduct our yoga classes in the waterfall garden and hold outdoor meetings on the patios to keep our members safe. Members have been amazingly supportive too. Our team is grateful for them and all the men and women who’ve championed our cause and made Millhouse a success. We can’t wait to see where the next year will take us.”
By Meredith Knight Photo by Millhouse