GREENVILLE – Historic Bear’s Mill, established in 1849 and located about five miles east of Greenville, requires constant upkeep and repair to maintain structural integrity; this basic fact is a constant concern for board members of Friends of Bear’s Mill, the non-profit corporation that owns and operates the treasured structure. In April of this year, a unique fundraising event was proposed to the Mill Board by Tessa Clark, who had essentially grown up at the Mill which her parents, Terry and Julie Clark, had purchased in 1979 and managed until the Friends of Bear’s Mill took over the operation in 2013.
Clark, a fashion designer, had gained some celebrity as a contestant on Project Runway, and believed that her moment of fame offered the opportunity to attract attendance at a Bear’s Mill fashion show which she would plan and execute, with all profits benefitting the treasured property. The board accepted her proposal, and is still amazed by the highly successful outcome of their decision. “The Miller’s Daughter: A Fashion Show” drew 332 attendees and earned over $19,000, which will be used to sustain and preserve the historic structure that has been integral to the lives of Tessa and her parents.
Clark, a graduate of University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning school, has developed her own clothing line, Grind and Glaze, honoring her father, a miller, and her mother, who is a potter. The Darke County native now lives and works in Cincinnati, where she sells her designs, plus her mother’s pottery and her cousin’s handbags at Idlewild Woman, the shop she manages in the trendy Over-the-Rhine district.
In organizing her event, the 28-year-old bundle of energy not only dealt with running the style show, including recruiting other designers, securing models, enlisting the participation of local boutiques and arranging for the set-up of the runway in the Mill-yard, but also solicited sponsors as well as donors of highly-desirable raffle prizes and planned the marketing for the fundraiser. Friends of Bear’s Mill greatly appreciates Tessa’s generous gift of her unique skills, talents, and labor benefitting the beloved structure the organization is dedicated to preserving.
A portion of the funds raised has already been spent, as a breech created by tunneling wildlife occurred in a dam integral to the Mill’s water flow. This unexpected problem was successfully addressed, with the repair work donated by the afore-mentioned former owner Terry Clark, who continues to look after the property he has worked so long to preserve. Other vital repairs to the Mill’s infrastructure still needing to be addressed have been estimated to cost $200,000, so a Capital Campaign to raise additional funds will soon be undertaken. However, Friends of Bear’s Mill is grateful that this daughter of the mill, Tessa, jump-started the money-raising efforts with her talents, labor, organizational ability, and creativity.