The woman who managed to make ice cream controversial is once again in the spotlight, but this time, it’s as one of six remaining contestants on HGTV’s "Design Star," an interior design reality competition now in its second season. Kim Myles, who co-runs 5 Boroughs Ice Cream
with her husband Scott, drew criticism when the pair decided to name
one of its concoctions “Staten Island Landfill,” leading Staten Island
borough president James P. Molinaro to call for a boycott of all the
company’s products. Just two months later, Myles is the only New Yorker
in the TV competition vying for the chance to host her very own design
show on the network. We spoke with Kim to hear how the multi-tasking
also-hairdresser went from chocolate chips to paint chips and to follow
up on the controversy.
So how exactly did you go from mixing ice cream flavors to interior decorating?
I think ice cream and interior designing both speak to how I live my
life, taking risks and taking chances… I’m not professionally trained,
but I’m passionate about it. Newly passionate. I think the two
intersect because it’s two people who are willing to put it out there,
putting it forward, and living our dreams
So when did you become interested in interior design?
I’ve always kind of been obsessed with interior design, ever since I
was a little girl. When I was 12 years old, my uncle gave me a stack of
and it was just mind blowing that people could live like that and that
places could look like those. Because it certainly didn’t look like
that on my cul-de-sac…And when I moved to New York, it was completely
awe-inspiring. Everywhere you looked, someone was putting something out
there that was a statement, really been into it and being interested in
You’ve say you’ve had no formal training. How did you learn the ropes?
In my apartment. I said this is something I’m going to dabble with, so
I’d repaint and redesign every three months. That has been the learning
process for me, putting it into process in my house, just really
immersing myself in what other people are doing, too. And then I
designed for brave friends. I’ve never been paid to do it. It was
always in my home or my friends. So to participate in home "Design
Star" is a huge leap for me, taking a private hobby of mine and putting
it out on the national stage.
How did you find out about the show?
I watched it last year and fell in love with it. And part of what I
loved about it was that it was clearly not about drama for drama’s
sake. The prize, at the end of the day, is your own show. They don’t
give you money, they give you a career. I was obsessed. And I love the
structure of the challenges. There are individual challenges with
limited budgets and limited time, so you had to turn on that creativity
to the fullest within those parameters.
What was the application process like?
When they put out the call for season two, I made a 5-minute tape, just
me in my apartment and showing them my projects and my crazy stacks of
tear sheets from the 18 million magazines that I’ve collected over the
years. If you knew the amount I’d spent on design magazines… Listen, I
have what it takes. I came to New York as a theater actor, and I
realized pretty soon that I actually wasn’t brilliant at pretending to
be other people and I wasn’t going to make a living at it. But I
realized that I’m really, really good at being myself. I’ve never
worked on camera, but I felt like I would really be able to translate
my ability to present that to a camera.
So, I know you’re sworn to secrecy about the show’s outcome, but can you tell me generally what the experience was like?
Well, right now I’m one of six left of the original 11. I lived in Las
Vegas. We all flew out to begin filming in March, and we all lived
there, in a house—together. Our first design challenge was actually to
design the penthouse…It’s all interior-driven challenges with a
specific budget and time limit. Afterwards, we all head over to the
elimination studio to be judged, and they pick apart the work.
Have you thought at all about what your show will be like if you win? Will you come back to New York?
My dream going into it was, "What if I can win? And what if I get it?
And what would my show be?" It would be all about New York. Mine would
be taking people in their first year in Manhattan—who have come here
with a dream and who are working the heinous hours that we all do,
making no money—and making them a place that is inspirational, make a
space that reminds them of why they took the risk, why they came here.
That is my dream show.
So I have to ask: What happened with the 5 Boroughs controversy and the boycott campaign?
We’ve had a huge year at 5 Boroughs. That happened, and it actually
tripled our sales. It really put us on the map. We’ve crossed state
lines and are now available at Whole Foods in New Jersey and
Connecticut. We are thrilled that New Yorkers have really adopted
us…We’re actively now in the position to be seeking inventors. We’ve
put our dreams out there and 5 Boroughs Ice Cream is really exceeding
our expectations. The plan for us would be to roll out new flavors in
2008, including Staten Island Cherry.
Design Star airs Sundays at 9pm. You can read more about Kim’s experiences on the show on her blog.