#PrepareAtPeace: Harriet Mills ’03 on Wine & Design and ABC’s Shark Tank

Aug 7, 2017

It’s been a monumental year for Peace Alumna, Harriet Mills, who balances her national TV appearance with running a business, being a wife, and mother of three. Mills successfully pitched her national “paint and sip” company, Wine & Design, to a panel of famous investors on ABC’s Shark Tank, which aired this past May.

“Since about May of last year when we found out we were going on Shark Tank it’s just been high-rolling from there.”

Patrick Mills (left) with celebrity investor, Kevin O’Leary (center) and Wine & Design CEO, Harriet Mills (right).

“Life has been crazy busy with work and family – it’s insane, but it’s fun,” Mills said, when asked about life since Shark Tank. “Since about May of last year when we found out we were going on Shark Tank it’s just been high-rolling from there.”

Harriet and her husband, Patrick, filmed their pitch in September 2016 in Los Angeles while she was seven months pregnant, and it wasn’t until eight months later that the duo found out that their segment was going to be broadcast, giving them only two weeks to prepare.

“We had to get everything prepared,” Mills said. “We had to get things like our social media prepped. We were hoping that we’d be aired, so we were ready for it, but it was a lot of work on me and my staff.”

Despite the scramble to prepare for the national spotlight, Wine & Design – as a business – is a well-oiled machine.

The business concept is a simple idea, where participants socialize with a glass of wine, while following step-by-step painting instructions from an artist-teacher. Each attendee then crafts a painting to take home when they leave.

“You come in and have an actual conversation with your friends, pour a glass of wine, relax and paint a two-hour painting while you’re instructed by an artist-teacher,” Mills said.

Harriet Mills (left) and Kevin O’Leary (right) drink wine and paint.

Mills started the business in 2010 after a trip to Charleston, where she and her business partner attended a wine and paint class. After a little help from friends and family, the business was up and running, then quickly expanded out of Raleigh as the company franchised to become a national presence. As of today, Wine & Design has franchised 78 locations across the U.S. and Mills’ Shark Tank appearance will likely increase that number.

“I always say that it was one night of fame,” Mills said, smiling. “It was a lot of fun and I think that the airing of the night was the most fun.”

Harriet and Patrick entertained offers from two of the show’s celebrity investors, or “sharks” – Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec – finally accepting an offer from “Mr. Wonderful” (O’Leary).

“I can’t go into too much detail about the offer,” Mills said, when asked about the specifics of the deal. “But I can say that Kevin [O’Leary] is fully on board as a partner.”

“I was a Communications major [at Peace] and I really think it helped my success.”

Mills is a natural conversationalist, on and off camera, and she attributes her success to studying Communication at Peace, where she received her degree in 2003. During her WPU interview, she reflected fondly of her time on Peace’s campus and the lifelong friends she made. Mills made sure to note how much of an impact the professors had on her, going out of their way to help her and every student, most notably Roger Christman, Associate Professor of Communication and Department Chair.

“My experience at Peace was amazing,” Mills said. “The teachers were so helpful; they went out of their way. I was a Communication major and I really think that helped my success.”

For more news and feature stories, search #PrepareAtPeace on social media, or visit www.peace.edu/news.

Explore Communication at WPU

Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
a student uses a laptop on a green bench at William Peace University

Give Now

Support future Pacer success. 

 

Become a Corporate Partner

Find out how your organization can collaborate with Peace.

Visitors

Whether you’re hoping to attend WPU or hosting an event, you’re welcome to visit WPU! 

Wedding at WPU
Phantom in downtown Raleigh

Conferences and Events

Host your conference, event, or wedding at WPU.

Location and Directions

Get directions, our address, a campus map, and hotel discount information.

Counselors

Learn about WPU and all it has to offer so you can guide your students to the best fit for their next step. 

Admissions Info

Meet and connect with our Admissions team.

Schedule a Visit

Learn about our processes and schedule a visit.

Alumni

Our success as an institution has always been rooted in the strength of our community. As an integral part of that community, we invite alumni to stay informed and connected. 

Alumni outside at WPU
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
Building at WPU

Get Involved

Stay connected to Peace.

Donate

Contribute to the success of future Pacers.

General Info

Read about alumni benefits.

Parents

Families are an integral part of a student’s path to WPU. Find answers to your questions here. 

Commencement
Two WPU students work together on a project during class

Student Success: Why Choose WPU?

Learn about the value of an education at WPU.

Billing and Due Dates

Questions about your student’s enrollment or billing? Start here.

Current Students

Already a Pacer? Here’s your quick path to information, links, and other useful stuff.

Group of students talking
Students high-fiving each other

Current Students

Missing something? Can’t find a link? Start here.

Current Parents and Families

Is your student a Pacer? Here’s where to get information and contacts.

Future Students

Welcome to William Peace University! We offer programs for both traditional undergraduate students and online/hybrid classes through our School of Professional Studies. Find your path to WPU here.

Three WPU students walk through a brick archway on campus.
Three students discuss their work during class.
Older gentleman at a computer

First Time in College

Your WPU education will help you build practical skills for your future.

Transfer Students

Transfer up to 90 credit hours from any institution. 

Working Professionals

Enhance your existing career.

A WPU student works on a video game in the new esports and gaming lab on campus.
Woman in army green typing at computer
Two female international students

Readmission

If you previously attended WPU and are ready to return, start here. 

Veteran/Military

Learn more about how to apply the GI bill.

International Students

Find out how to attend WPU.

About

WPU has a long history as one of the city’s oldest universities. Find out more about our institution in the heart of downtown Raleigh. 

2023 Student Showcase
Staff Pumpkin Painting

History

Through 160 years, William Peace University has evolved to meet the changing needs of the students we serve.

Leadership

William Peace University is a small, private institution located in downtown Raleigh, NC.

Work at WPU

Join our team and see why William Peace University was voted one of the Triangle’s Best Places to Work!

DEI Staff
Design Rendering of WPU

Contact Us

Contact the University

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Learn about DEI at WPU.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Learn about WPU core tenets. 

Student Life

Whether you want to know more about on-campus events or see our residence halls, get a sense of what life is like as a student at WPU.

WPU Student on bouncy slide
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
WPU Safety Officer

Clubs, Activities and Events

Discover what’s fun at WPU.

Housing & Dining

When people say that WPU “feels like home,” we think that’s the ultimate compliment.

Safety & Security

The Office of Public Safety is committed to providing a community-friendly approach to enhancing campus safety for students, faculty and staff.

Dining room at Peace
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
Health and wellness at WPU

Athletics

Cheer on your Pacers at their next home game.

Student Support Services

Find out how the WPU team supports the whole you.

Health and Wellness

Learn about physical and mental health services available to students.

Academics

WPU offers a mix of more than 30 degree programs and additional minors. Our courses are four credit hours each, and every course features immersive learning experiences.

A student in WPU's online School of Professional Studies works on her homework.
2023 Internship Showcase

Immersive Learning

Find out about WPU’s unique approach to learning.

Center for Student Success

Peer tutoring, a first-year success program, and an internship program are just part of why Pacers succeed. 

Admissions

Start here to find out how to apply, visit, and learn more about WPU.

Before you apply:

Admissions team
students walking on campus
A student reviews scholarship and payment information in the financial aid office.

Connect with an Admission Couneslor

They’ll be your guide through the process.

Visit Campus

Get a feel for campus life.

Understand Costs

Find out about Financial aid and other options to pay for college.