October 23, 2019

Power Women: M2G Ventures Co-Founder Jessica Miller Essl is Not Afraid of Heights or Complex Redevelopment Projects

By Kerri Panchuk, Bisnow Dallas-Fort Worth, October 23, 2019

This limited series profiles DFW Power Women who have made their mark in the Dallas-Fort Worth commercial real estate industry. Each of the women profiled will be honored at Bisnow’s Dallas-Fort Worth Power Women event Nov. 12.  

Only the bravest of developers take on the challenge of refurbishing older buildings, while the rest may worry such complex projects will take them to unseemly heights.

But M2G Ventures co-founder Jessica Miller Essl is not afraid of heights. After all, she comfortably climbed into the barn rafters at the Stockyards/Mule Alley project in Fort Worth, where she and her twin sister and M2G co-founder, Susan Miller Gruppi, are serving as the redevelopmentā€™s retail and restaurant leasing partner. 

The identical twins built their reputation in Fort Worth revitalizing The Foundry District and recently took on the overhaul of a former Dallas Can Academy, with plans to transform it into creative office product. 

The pair also jumped into the industrial space and have more plans for their art-centric Foundry District.

For Miller Essl, reaching this point in her career seems somewhat fated given her longtime penchant for real estate and for taking chances. 

Bisnow: What did you dream of becoming as a child? How does your current career feed that inner child inside of you? 

Miller-Essl: Most frequently, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Not sure I knew really what that was, but I knew I loved seeing my parents creating and developing real estate. Pretty sure I thought about being a nurse, a vet too, but that was probably what I thought I should be at the time and less about desire. 

Bisnow: If you could teach women growing in the industry today just one thing, what would it be? 

Miller-Essl: Speak up. Make room for your opinion to be heard. Don’t assume others will open a seat at the table. For anyone, male or female, assume you need to prove why you have a seat at the table and, in some cases, why they need to move over! 

Bisnow: Who inspires you on a daily basis and why?

Miller-Essl: My parents because they are amazing role models in everything. My sister and business partner because she can work over a full day and still go home and be an extremely present parent. My husband for the dedication to his family and our little girl who lives life to the fullest. 

Bisnow: What is your biggest career failure and what positive lessons did it teach you? 

Miller-Essl: I can’t say I have ever looked at anything in my career as a failure. I thrive on seeing the gray area in the black and white, or the strategy to shift in a new direction. Many of what some would have considered failures, I considered my biggest accomplishments in navigating through the downside and ending up OK.  

Bisnow: Describe your greatest career accomplishment. 

Miller-Essl: That would be a tie between gaining the trust and responsibility from my former boss, Johnny Siegel at Open Realty, who I am convinced is one of the best real estate strategists worldwide, and building M2G with my partner and all the things that includes. The greatest project I have ever worked on and probably ever will is the redevelopment of the Fort Worth Stockyards. It’s once in a lifetime.