Monica Miraglilo, founder of GirlBuild, wears REALM Fine + Fashion Jewelry

Meet Monica Miraglilo

Model turned Construction CEO Monica Miraglilo does more than build homes. She helps women build their futures.

While modeling for QVC, Monica Miraglilo saw many an entrepreneur turn their dreams into thriving businesses. Inspired, she started a custom pillow business of her own, then began designing residential and commercial properties for a Philadelphia builder. “At that time, there were so few women in my circle,” says Monica. “Yet I knew there was a female construction community. I knew there were women working as plumbers, as carpenters, installing tile. There just wasn’t a collective space for us yet. It sparked my interest and I decided to create a platform that could embrace women like me.”

And so GirlBuild® was born. Through classes, community and coaching, GirlBuild® equips women with the tools they need to build their confidence, independence and homes. It is the only program of its kind that empowers girls to transform their communities and influence the future of our nation.

“Men dominate the building and development industry,” says Monica, “but women are builders too. We build families, we build relationships, we build homes.”

Ann King Lagos and Monica Miraglilo in white Tees and REALM jewelry

My personal relationship with Monica goes back to her time at QVC. I was designing Ann King Design for QVC—and she was modeling my jewelry on air! As young etrepreneurs, we had no idea that decades later we'd reconnect. Fast forward to today. I’m designing REALM Fine + Fashion Jewelry and Monica is our newest Real Woman of REALM. The journey she has traveled during that time has made her even more beautiful, both inside and out.

It is also interesting how the symbolism of REALM’s collections dovetail so perfectly with Monica and her world right now. Such as our DOMAIN collection, which represents Home + Protection + Life. There are the homes Monica builds with her hands, and the home she's built with her heart. And also, our INSIGNIA collection, symbolizing Family + Bond + Power, and the strength we draw from that. Similarly, Monica credits her own success and strength to a foundation of faith, family and love.

“No matter what you’re doing in life, you can’t build anything without a firm foundation," notes Monica. "That’s true for houses and for relationships.”

I am so in awe of the life Monica has built. She’s nurtured a beautiful family, created a unique community and heads a dynamic business. Here, she bares her soul as she shares her story, style and words of wisdom with us in a way that uplifts and inspires. I think you will find, as I have, that she is truly a gem.


Ann Lagos signature

Ann King Lagos
REALM Fine + Fashion Jewelry

BANNER PHOTO: Monica's wears REALM Studs / CollarRing / Cuff

PHOTO ABOVE: Ann King Lagos & Monica Miraglilo wear REALM Earrings / Necklaces / Rings / Bracelets


What do you do for work?
Short answer: I’m a fashion model, CEO, Construction Designer, wife and mom.

Monica Miraglilo in black dress and REALM earrings and ringLong answer: When it comes to business, I wear a couple of hats. In 1988 I started modeling which was great and a base for me making so many incredible relationships. I was able to travel the world, explore different cultures and meet people from all different walks of life. After I had my daughter, I wanted to make sure that I had a reliable income, so I took up residency at QVC, and while there was exposed to even more designers and more people. Seeing so many businesses break into sales inspired me to start thinking about what I could create on my own. At the time I was taking small design gigs on the side, helping friends pick out tile for their kitchens and fabric for their curtains. I realized I had a passion for design, and in 2006 I started my first business, Fill-A-Pillow. Shoppers could come in and pick out their own fabric and have custom pillows made the same day! We eventually expanded and started to do window treatments, outdoor cushions and anything home related that had to do with beautiful fabrics.

Business was good but when the recession hit, it didn’t survive. Luckily, by that time I had met a formidable builder in the Philadelphia area. He was impressed with my design aesthetic and asked me if I would consider working with him. Next thing I knew I was designing residential and commercial properties full time. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy. Working on site with a crew is very different from doing a couple of household handyman jobs. I wasn’t immediately welcomed. It took time to build trust with my peers—all of whom were men. There were so few women in my circle and if they were around, they almost always had a job in administration. Yet I knew there was a female construction community. I knew there were women working as plumbers, as carpenters, installing tile. There just wasn’t a collective space for us yet. So, it sparked my interest and I decided to create a platform that could embrace women like me.

With that thought in mind, I started GirlBuild® as a way to bridge that community and equip women with the tools they need to build their confidence, independence and homes.

PHOTO: Monica wears REALM Earrings / Ring / Cuffs / Cuff / Rings

for play?
My husband and I are boaters. We like to get out on the ocean with our family and enjoy each other away from the hustle and bustle of the day to day. All the back-to-back phone calls and meetings can get overwhelming, so we pride ourselves on making time to pull the plug and just enjoy the family. When we’re not at sea, we’re usually with friends either at home or in town.

for others?
My daughter has always had a charitable heart and has been involved with organizations in the past. When I started GirlBuild® she expressed an interest in really trying to figure out how we could give back to the community. So, we started a project called SawdustHer to amplify women’s voices in business. It’s still in early development but we’re excited to share our plans in the future.

You used to be a model. Tell us about trading your makeup brush for a paintbrush.
When I bought my first home in 2000, I was a single mom facing a four-bedroom Dutch Colonial on my own. My daughter was going on five at the time. She was starting school, finances were getting tight, and I realized that if I wanted to do any renovations, I was going to have to figure out how to do them on my own. It was daunting. I had no experience, but I was determined. I knew that builders could always be found in Home Depot or Lowes, so I would frequent the home improvement stores, and ask the guys: How do I fix a leak in my kitchen? How do I install a new toilet? I want to tear down a wall, what do I need? And they would tell me! After a time, I built a rapport with some, and they would come by if I needed manpower, but for the most part it just came down to getting familiar with tools so I could create my oasis.

I don’t think I could ever give up my makeup brush, though. I would just use it after I’ve created a masterpiece!

Somers Point NJ kitchen designed by Monica Miraglilo
PHOTO: A Somers Point, NJ kitchen designed by Monica

You've said that though men still dominate the building and development industry, “women are builders too. We build families, we build relationships, and we build homes.” Love that! Tell us more…
No matter what you’re doing in life, you can’t build anything without a firm foundation. That’s why when my husband and I build, we take everything down to the studs. We can’t build unless we know that we’re creating a home in good faith that’s going to last.

But it’s not always about being familiar with a hammer and nail. Working with my husband is a testimony to that. Without the strength of our marriage, and the trust we have in one another as partners in life and in business, it would never work.

So, I learned very early on that the foundation we create at home is just as crucial. I have to say as a woman this sentiment carries a lot of weight. When you get married and you start a family, everything is about building a firm foundation. How you decide to raise your children, who you decide to associate yourself with, what messages you want to be embedded in your legacy. It all comes into play, and women are a big part of those decisions.

If it’s said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the woman makes sure that the heart beats. It doesn’t matter if she’s working over 40 hours a week, and she has two or three jobs, and she can’t cook. There’s something innate about femininity that just seeks a deeper connection. Whether that’s in a nurturing role, an increasing role or both, the passion lingers, and the work put in matters. It plays a part in the next generation and how we as individuals interact and contribute to our community.

Monica Miraglilo and family

Our DOMAIN Collection symbolizes Home + Protection + Life. Of course, we had to ask: what does that mean to you?
It means everything to me. I really love those words because they’re so essential. What else is there?

Life, that’s the start of everything. It’s the material. The chance. If you’re not involved in life, celebrating life, what are you involved in? What are you giving energy to? Then home, which for me is the foundation. The roots. And then with protection you find incredible purpose. You find a task to take care of the things most important to you.

To me it’s a statement that says all together: not only am I alive, but I’m living with brilliant intention.

PHOTO: Monica and her family


We love your style! At REALM, we talk about our jewelry and Empresses as having a “Classic, Romantic or Rock Star” vibe (sometimes all three). How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, exotic, unique

Why do you love REALM?
Even though I spend more time on a construction site than I do on the runway, I never want to compromise style. My femininity is important, so I really love brands like REALM because the product is versatile enough to keep up with both lifestyles. Having a selection of pieces that I know will survive wear and tear, but still be classy enough to keep for night out is invaluable.

Rose Gold Pearl Braclet

Your favorite pieces of REALM jewelry?
Bond bracelets and the Capulet Torque Cuff are favorites of mine to pair with my cargo pants and my hammer. For a strong style statement, the Soirée Pavé Earrings are my go-to.

gold and silver bracelet

Favorite REALM collection?
I’m a big fan of the INSIGNIA Collection. The earrings are just to die for.

sterling silver drop earrings

What does it mean to:

To me, being your best self is all about self-confidence.
At the end of the day, the only person that’s going to
get you from point A to B is you. Your best ideas, your best looks,
your best dreams, and your best goals all rely
on how confident you are to see it through.
Being your own Empress is about owning
your power and coming to an understanding
of what you’re capable of. Knowing that you’re
ultimately in control of your destiny can change your
outlook in profound ways.
To reign thoughtfully, which I think is the most important,
is about being full of awareness. I don’t think there’s
anything more important than vulnerability, and sensitivity.
Remembering to keep even the smallest detail
in consideration goes a long way.


What are 3 easy, affordable ways we can give our homes a quick refresh?

  1. The easiest and most radical way to freshen up a space is to paint it. Nothing says remodel like a fresh coat of paint. It’s a great way to reinvent your style and honor whatever season you might be in.
  2. Accessories—like new pillows to complement the new paint colors or throws and plants—are a quick and affordable way to enhance a paint change without breaking the bank.
  3. Lighting. Whether you’re redecorating your kitchen or living quarters, changing the lighting is a nice eye-catching way to change the design of a space. I always say that lighting is like jewelry for the home, and I love the bling! So, get creative.

Anything else you would like to add?
Faith, family and love conquer all.


Girlbuild logo


IG:  @girlbuild 
IG: @stylewmonica
HASHTAGS:  #stylewmonica  #girlbuild


"If I can do it, you can."