Alumnae Profile: Char Miller-King ’99
Bishop Montgomery alumna Char Miller-King ‘99 has a passion for building. Sure, for her “job” she makes beds, tables, benches, jewelry boxes and anything else you can create with wood and tools. But her passion for building goes far beyond the tangible and beautiful items she creates. In her career as a woodshop teacher and businesswoman, and in her life as a wife and mother, her passion lies in empowering others, young and old alike, and building their self-confidence so they can fulfill the greatness in themselves. That, she feels, is what God put her on the earth to do, and it is what she strives to accomplish each day.
Char’s passion for building and leading was clearly evident while she was a student at Bishop Montgomery. She played all four years on the girls’ basketball team and was a member of the 1996-97 team that won CIF and State titles. Those teams during the 1990’s helped create a championship culture that continues today. As a senior, she served as class co-president, was named a scholar-athlete, and she took great pride in being accessible to others and “building a community with my classmates at school,” she says.
Following graduation, Char headed to Clark Atlanta University and earned her degree in public relations. While working jobs in facility management at the Georgia Dome and as an events coordinator at the Georgia World Congress Center, Char was not timid about doing any task that was needed. When working in facilities the size of those two places – the World Congress Center is 1.5 million square feet – Char found herself doing whatever was necessary to make an event successful, even if it was not in her job description. “I gained a greater respect for all types of people and what they do,” she says.
For the next few years, Char managed the satellite campuses in the College of Business for the Georgia State University system. She embraced working and, as she says, “I finally got my corner office.” Then, something clicked. Char decided that she would take her passion for helping others and for building – and power tools – that was sparked a few years earlier and make it into a career.
Shortly after college, Char was shopping for a bed for her apartment and quickly realized that she could not afford any of the beds she liked. She decided she would try to make one herself. “I have always been a resourceful person and it seemed simple to make,” she says, “so I borrowed a drill.” It was not as easy as it looked – it took her three months to make the bed – but when it was complete, Char felt an emerging sense of gratification. “I did this by myself,” she recalls thinking. It would not be long before her business, The Wooden Maven, would be a reality.
Char started buying power tools and making things. And it didn’t stop. Soon she had her own maker’s space – her garage – and her own business. Around 2017, she appeared in PBS’ “Making It,” a program spotlighting local makers. Since that first show, she has appeared on other programs and collaborated on projects with companies such as Dickies and Carhartt. And in the summer of 2021, she will appear in a Discovery+ episode of “Restoration Road” with Clint Harp.
As Char’s business has grown, so has her family and her desire to help others gain the confidence they need to do anything in life. “My true passion is making other people great by helping them make great things,” she says. One of the ways Char does this is by teaching woodworking to kids as young as five and adults who are in their 80’s. Four of her “students” are her own kids. Char and her husband have a 13-year old daughter, a 9-year old son, and 6-year old twin girls. They bought their kids their first drills when they were five and she recently taught her twin girls how to use a band saw for the first time. “The most important people we can teach are our own children,” says Char. “I could see the self-confidence my twins had from the pure excitement of cutting something on their own.”
For Char, using power tools and making something out of wood goes far beyond the finished project. She loves what she does because building something with your hands helps to instill so many positive qualities in a person. “When I am teaching someone to build something, I am teaching them confidence, discipline, self-control and listening skills,” she says. “I want my students, and my kids, to feel proud of themselves for making something. That confidence can spill over to everything they do in life.”
Whatever Char is building today or in the future will be created with a passion that is evident in her voice and in her smile. She loves working with wood and with power tools – her favorite tool is her table saw – but what she loves even more about her career is empowering others to follow their own dreams and encouraging others to share their talents with the world. “My message to my own kids and my students is that we are all here to serve others; we are here to use our talents to help other people in any way we can.”
See more of Char at http://www.thewoodenmaven.com; follow her on Instagram @woodenmaven; and subscribe to her YouTube channel @woodenmaven.