When New York City hairstylist Kim Myles came in first place on the HGTV series Design Star in 2007, she earned her own show on the home-renovation-focused cable network. Myles of Style debuted in March of 2008 and showcased the same exuberant personality and creativity that its host displayed on Design Star's reality-series challenge for amateur interior designers. She told Richard Huff in the New York Daily News that she was thrilled about her sudden fortune at being able to make a career out of something she loves. "The universe is saying, ‘Hey, here is where you fit.’ I feel incredibly lucky."
Born in 1974, Myles grew up in suburban Bakersfield, California, and she recalled that even as a youngster she was concerned with improving her surroundings. She rearranged her bedroom furniture often, and even made her own art prints from Monet-reproduction postcards and construction paper. Hoping for a career on the stage, she entered the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts after graduating from West High School. She earned her associate of arts degree and then headed to New York City in the mid-1990s. Once there, however, she realized that acting was going to prove a difficult way to earn a living, so she enrolled in cosmetology school and began working on doing stage makeup and hair for performers.
Myles's career as a hairstylist took a brief detour. She and her husband, Scott Myles, a graphic designer, received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift, and unlike most niche small appliances received as gifts, theirs actually saw some use. Her husband began inventing new ice cream flavors, which were a hit with friends, so they enrolled in a seminar at Ice Cream University, a roving learning center that holds a variety of classes in San Francisco, Florida, and New Jersey for budding ice cream entrepreneurs. The school's founders helped the Myleses locate a small manufacturing space to rent in the back of an ice cream parlor in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where in 2003 Scott began crafting his first batches. Their first half-pints, sold under the label 5 Boroughs, went on sale in select New York City grocery stores and specialty-food markets in 2004, and demand reached the point where they were able to contract with a dairy production facility in Boonville, New York, to handle the manufacturing.
The 5 Borough range of products reflected the company's slogan—"One City, A World of Flavors." There was Bakla-Wha?, a reflection of the Myleses' Queens neighborhood of Astoria with its Greek-immigrant character, Upper East Side Rich White Vanilla, and Staten Island Landfill. That last flavor—made with brownie chunks and Bordeaux cherries, among other ingredients—roused the ire of a Staten Island politician in the summer of 2007, who tried to drum up support for a boycott of 5 Boroughs. His play backfired; journalist David Koeppel in the New York Times noted that "four Whole Foods stores in Manhattan quadrupled their ice cream orders and Whole Foods affiliates in Connecticut and New Jersey began ordering the company's ice cream for the first time." Despite the sales spike, Myles admitted starting a food company was a challenge. "Capitalism is stacked against the small-business guy; the system is not your friend," she told Koeppel. "Gaining your own shelf space, having your own plant, it's all difficult. We have a great idea, we have standards and we have heart. For us to get recognition and be highly profitable, we need an investor."
Myles's husband was still working in graphic design, and Myles was a stylist at Insitu, a salon in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood, when she entered an HGTV contest to become a contestant on Design Star. She had always loved renovating on a budget, and she didn't have any problems once she made it onto the second season of the show in meeting the challenges set out for the team members. The competition ended in September of 2007, with Myles beating her final competitor, Todd Davis, when judges gave her renovated hotel suite on Hawaii's Waikiki Beach the higher mark. The show's ultimate prize was the chance to create her own show for HGTV.
Myles of Style debuted in March of 2008 with twelve episodes that followed Myles and Anthony Gilardi, her master carpenter, as they visited various homes in the Los Angeles area in need of a helping hand. The show's namesake, asserted Susan Stewart in the New York Times, "always improves her clients' habitats, and possibly their lives…. Myles moves desks around, paints walls in three shades of yellow, supervises the stenciling of a rug in a cherry-blossom design and oversees the transformation of a mirror with black lacquer paint and dozens of chopsticks, painstakingly glued on, in sunburst-fashion (sort of) by the enthusiastic couple."
Even though Myles of Style was filmed in Southern California—which enabled Myles to visit family in Bakersfield more often—New York City remained her true home, which she described as "the center of the universe for me" to Sandra Barrera in the Daily News. "I've always had a very strong sense of style and color, and I've always known what I liked, but … the development of my own aesthetic, which is very personal and specific, I attribute to living in New York because you're steeped. There are so many visual options, you know, from window displays to architecture … to just looking at stylish New Yorkers on the street."
At a Glance …
Born in 1974 in Whittier, CA; married Scott Myles (a graphic designer). Education: Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, associate of arts degree; completed cosmetology school.
Career: 5 Boroughs Ice Cream, cofounder, 2003; hairstylist for stage productions and at the Insitu Salon, 2005-08; won HGTV's Design Star competition, 2007; host of Myles of Style, HGTV, 2008—.
Addresses: Office—c/o HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37932.
Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, CA), March 17, 2008.
Daily News (Los Angeles), March 11, 2008, p. L1.
New York Daily News, September 18, 2007.
New York Times, July 22, 2007, p. 19; March 27, 2008, p. E3.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 19, 2008.
"Design Star: Kim Myles," HGTV, http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/design_star/article/0,3172,HGTV_29536_5597414,00.html (accessed June 6, 2008).
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