It’s a pleasant surprise but not a shock when you discover that one of your favorite creatives has other talents or interests besides the medium that drew you to them in the first place. That's what creatives do, they connect what seems like unrelated experiences, information, and influences to create a cohesive story. They do this as they battle being told ‘no’ by others while in pursuit of chasing their own dreams, no matter how daunting that dream may seem. Becoming a TV personality may be one of the most daunting of dreams but for TV veteran and polymath creative Kim Myles, it’s the only dream worth decades of planning, commitment, and tenacity. Like a true creative, she’s also an interior designer, hairdresser, and public speaker.
After winning Season 2 of HGTV’s Design Star, she starred in her own show Myles of Style. Her new project, High Design, a cannabis dispensary renovation show, premiered on April 13, 2022 on Discovery+ and the whole season is available now for your binging pleasure.
Her Agenda spoke with the woman who may or may not help change your parents’ perception of cannabis but will definitely inspire you to be your most exceptional and authentic self.
Her Agenda: You are no stranger to television. What’s the difference between what you’ve done in the past and this new show?
Kim Myles: Weed! And also it's the first project that I’ve created, sold, executive produced and starred in. For me, this is huge. I’m a veteran in the industry, I got into TV in 2007 and I’m finally in this privileged position to be able to have my content made and reap the benefits of that creativity, and that platform. Yeah, it's incredible, that’s the big difference: weed and power baby!
Her Agenda: And can you tell us regular folks what that’s like, trying to sell a TV show?
Kim Myles: I will say everyone’s story is different. My particular Hollywood story is that I came up with the concept of “High Design” in 2016. That led me to step away from my professional life in 2017 and work in the cannabis industry for a year so that I knew what I was talking about because I’m not into having to pretend about anything. I always want to be confident and comfortable and own my own agenda. Sometimes, that requires time, education, and making choices. The choice for me started at the bottom, working on the sales floor as a budtender and working my way up to assistant manager. That gave me a real window into the cannabis industry. It gave me a working knowledge of the challenges of working in a dispensary. That was 2017 and in 2018 I started pitching it. Pitching is when you say “Hey, I have this great idea, let’s see who wants to get in business with me.” Everybody that I pitched to, again, I was very privileged to have been around long enough that I have these relationships, but everyone that I pitched it to took the pitch and said “Yeah…no, it’s cannabis, that's taboo.” And if they didn't feel like it was taboo they were at least concerned about advertising revenue.
Cannabis is still federally prohibited so they were basically like “Yeah.. we don't see the money train in this content.” Then I met my Executive Producer, Annette Silva. She saw my personality shine through on a call I was on for a house flipping show that she was trying to make with Sir Mix-A-Lot. We really connected so I ended up pitching it to her and the production company she was working for and they loved it. TV was very traditional at the time, especially HGTV [that’s under the Discovery+ umbrella], so streaming was the only way to go with this.
We made a sizzle in January 2020. Discovery+ said yes and bought the property in November 2020 and in 2021 I was in production. So that's how long it took. Nothing happens overnight and for the people it does happen to overnight, that's anomalous. It's a lot of work, it’s a lot of tenacity and not giving up. You need to be willing to hear no a million times and not think they stand correct in their no. To be convinced that they’re wrong, I don't know, I think that’s its own power position: to be completely and truly loyal to your vision, to your beliefs, to your dreams. And that doesn't always guarantee that’ll it work out but you’ll have a lot of a better chance. I truly believe Discovery+ saying yes is timing. America is ready for cannabis, the majority of Americans want it legalized. People are just starting to wake up to the social justice aspect of it, the incarceration and marginalization of people of color. Last year alone, cannabis was a $27 billion business. These are important things and the timing worked out. For me, this was my journey.
Her Agenda: And to confirm, can you tell us what you were doing while you were pitching a TV show because you still had to make a livelihood for yourself right?
Kim Myles: For me, I am a hairdresser thanks to my dad who let me cut his hair when I was 12. I’m a licensed hairdresser in NY and CA. Hair is my love. I’ll have people say “How does that make sense, you’re a hairdresser, a designer, and you’re a host?” To me, it's all the same thing. I’m talking to other human beings, hearing what their needs are, figuring out what's going to move them forward visually, and then executing that collaboratively. Whether that's hair, a room, or business, to me it's always the same starting point. I’m just really lucky– you know what, I’m not really lucky. I made really specific choices to pursue the things I know feed me and it doesn't always have to be perfect. But I love the process of hair. I love talking to people about their hair, I love doing hair and it's always a challenge, it's always about figuring out what makes you feel the most you, right? So when people invite me in to have that process with them, that's how it feels. It's such an honor and that’s how I feel about television as well. Anybody inviting me to their homes and trusting me with their business, that’s really powerful. This is my skill set, this is the gift that I can share, and if it’s of service to you, that's great.
Her Agenda: Talk to me about all this new fame, you’re literally a trailblazer. How has the audience reaction been?
Kim Myles: It's been amazing! I was right! To everyone that said no to this concept, I told you so. And thank you Discovery+ for seeing the value and the vision. It's being received very well and my DMs are blowing up. So many people are expressing gratitude to see the face of cannabis represented in an empowering way that doesn't rest on old stereotypes and it is coming from a place of love and joy and exploration. But I'm also surprised by how many people write who say “Kim I gotta tell you, I don’t smoke or use marijuana and yet I love this show. It's so informative and educational. I’ve never used it but maybe I can try a gummy now because I understand it a little better.”
Normalizing cannabis is a heart mission for me. Part of what I can do with my platform is to help achieve that by just showing you what it is. This is not Nancy Regan’s drug war. I think that's one of the great things we did in “High Design”, pulling back that curtain so you can see all the people who work there, all these individual stories, and how they’ve arrived at business with cannabis.
Her Agenda: And now that you've watched the show, is there anything you would do differently?
Kim Myles: Oh my gosh yes! I mean, any creative would tell you that you cannot watch the product and not have many moments where you would do something differently. There are definitely things I would do very differently. For example, we had one infamous episode, Reefer Madness, where we had a difficult relationship with the contractor. Moving forward, watching a shit storm does make for great TV but not so great to live in it. I would add more money to the budget (talking to you Discovery+).
I am an artist, I'm a maker, and I build with my hands so I would have liked to highlight that more. There were so many missed opportunities with local artists and creators. If we scheduled it differently, that would be something I would work on.
Her Agenda: What coming up next, do we see a season two in the works?
Kim Myles: Personally, I see a season two in the works but I haven’t heard anything officially yet. TV is slow so it could take another year which is not unreasonable to think. But regardless, I’m continuing to further my agenda which is normalizing, legalizing, educating, and celebrating cannabis. I am forming really interesting relationships with women in the business who are making amazing things happen at both the state and federal levels. I am hustling and doing all the things on my agenda I need to do. I hope to continue to destigmatize this plant.
Her Agenda: What advice would you give women trying to be in front of the camera. I read somewhere that you always wanted to be an actress but to make a steady income, you started doing more behind-the-scenes work like makeup and hair. Yet your career has been consistent, you just keep showing up!
Kim Myles: I love what you just said, I just keep showing up. Yes, for the viewer I just keep showing up but I also just keep showing up for myself and that is my advice for any woman, young or old. You’re talking to a 48-year-old, I’m not 30, so age is not a factor, truly. If what you want to do is entertain people, or be a creator or fill in the blank, you just keep showing up for it. You take every opportunity you can. I think part of the gratitude I have in a moment like this, even this moment of having you interested to speak to me, is that I have taken so many crappy TV jobs. The number of shit jobs, so far, outnumber this one miraculous show I got to create. The numbers [don’t define] you and that's what people need to know. You accept that early and you decide that that is not going to stop you. You decide that you are an exceptional person and that you are in that top percentile that is going to get things done. Getting things done in television for me meant that you weren’t always going to be a star. I was the sidekick, the backup player, the off-camera designer. I’ve done whatever I needed to do to learn what I needed to learn to be really really good at this job and that learning never stops. I’ve come a long way.
Honestly, I am a hustler. I like working on a lot of projects and I’m really curious. My true agenda is when I die I would very much like to be able to say that I’m a polymath. That’s the mission. I can’t be an expert on everything but I want to learn more and if you keep that attitude, you’re always going to be asking questions. And that's the thing that shifts things forward. One of the things I love doing is speaking publicly and one of the things that's important for me other than cannabis is women and girls and what I can do to uplift them.
[Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]