In 1915, the Eno River Mill in Hillsborough manufacturing yarn-dyed fabrics like gingham, chambray and denim. A century later, those same textiles might serve as tablecloths for a rustic wedding reception at The Cloth Mill at Eno River now that Nicole Clayton has transformed the space. The New York native almost bought a bar in Raleigh. But then the former athletic academic advisor who moved to North Carolina five years ago spotted a commercial real estate listing she just had to see. “I came that day and fell in love,” Nicole says. “Under all the paint and HVAC ducts, I thought ‘This space is perfect.'”
Restoring her 10,000-square-foot space in the mill complex – other tenants include Mystery Brewing Company and Weaver Street Market’s HQ – has been a long process. Back in the summer when we stopped by, the floors were literally dirt, and the boarded up windows meant sunshine couldn’t reach the original 1896 beams and pillars. Now with new hardwood floors and romantic bistro lights out in the courtyard, the mill is the urban, industrial-chic venue of Nicole’s dreams. She kept the design simple so couples can easily decorate no matter their wedding colors or Pinterest board theme.
Even though she’s nearly got the venue up and running, Nicole’s not slowing down. She’s still got On the Rocks, the bartending business she started as a side gig and turned into a full-time business in 2013. It was here she perfected her customer service and attention to detail that have served her well as she prepares to take on a larger role in a couple’s big day. At The Cloth Mill, Nicole’s thought of everything from constructing roomy suites for the wedding party to sending a couple off on their honeymoon with airplane bottles of liquor to recreate their wedding’s signature cocktail. “Every client that books gets treated like they are my only client,” she says.