We first met Kyah Hillis when we tracked her down, head over heels for her jewelry line, Sleeveless. That was well over a year ago and we continue to be obsessed. As a local stylist, jewelry designer and co-owner of a new business concept, The Trunk, this gal has non-stop creative energy. With a 5 month old baby added to the mix, she certainly has her hands full. If she’s not whipping up her almost-famous savory crepes at home, she might be daydreaming of a sure-to-be-second career of gutting and redesigning houses. We are happy to have Kyah on StyleBlueprint today and we know you will be, too.
Where did you grow up and what led you here?
I grew up in Spokane, Washington, and came to Nashville by way of Southern California, where I lived for 6 years. I met a southern boy and we decided to make Nashville home. I told him, “3-5 years tops, and then we’ve got to move back to the West Coast,” but I couldn’t have known that I would fall in love with Nashville!
From stylist, to founder of Sleeveless, to your newest business, The Trunk, you obviously have a serious creativity gene. Was this always apparent?
I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic or extravagant, but my first career was in sales. I love working with people and hearing their stories. That is the common denominator to whatever I do. When I moved to Nashville, I left my sales territory in San Diego and L.A. and had to reinvent myself and my career and basically start anew. I have always been into interiors and styling, so I plunged into styling.
Tell us what you learned from being a stylist that led you to start Sleeveless.
There was a natural progression for me to do styling and start Sleeveless because I saw the opportunity to create pieces of jewelry that I would like to wear AND provide one-of-a-kind pieces for the artists and other clients I style. Sleeveless was born out of that goal…offering one-of-a-kind jewelry to my clients!
What do you see as an unique and defining characteristic of Nashville?
After living in cities from Los Angeles, Seattle and all the way to New England, I tell everyone that there isn’t a place I’ve been that has the welcoming, encouraging, embracing attitude that Nashville has towards its own local entrepreneurs. I’m so thankful that Nashville embraces small business and particularly, new brands. It’s a community of people who like to create and see other creative endeavors succeed! I love the friends I have made here for all of the variety and interesting ideas that they contribute to my life!
We are super excited about your newest business, The Trunk. Tell us about it and how our creative readers could rent this concept for their own needs.
The Trunk is Nashville’s first mobile pop-up boutique on wheels! We – my partner on this venture, Abigail Franklin, and I – branded The Trunk separately from our own business so that it would be a retail venue for all “curated fine goods.” The majority of the time, when you see The Trunk parked out in Nashville, it will be home to Sleeveless and State (men’s accessories and clothing–cologne, shaving kits, hats etc.). But in order to keep the concept fresh, we are opening it up to other individuals who have a brand that they want Nashville to see. It’s the perfect solution for any business owner who has ever had these thoughts:
“Retail space is so expensive and I just don’t know if I’ll get a return,” or “I would really like to try selling my goods in a different part of town but I just don’t want to make the financial commitment to a lease.” Or, if perhaps a painter or best selling author want to do a book signing or mobile show, they can rent The Trunk. The Trunk rental comes with a staff to operate the truck and take care of the sales that are made. It will be a full-service venue for other businesses!
Our calendar online at www.TheTrunkNashville.com and our Twitter account @TheTrunkNash will be the platform for people to check out what The Trunk is featuring on any given day!
Being involved with so many creative women in Nashville, what are some things you have learned that we can incorporate into our own lives to give ourselves a signature look?
Accessories!! (And I’m not just saying that because I have an accessory line.) Bold accessories are the easiest solution for all women when they want to amp up their wardrobe. Nothing says cool (without having to try too hard) like a pair of sunnies, a hat that suits you, a scarf, great bangles or a necklaces and a statement jacket (now that we are moving into Fall). You don’t want to look like you’ve dressed by numbers or are adhering to a formula, but that’s why, when you see a scarf or necklace you love, you should BUY it! I just had a baby, and while I was pregnant, the easiest way to look “cool” when I couldn’t fit into anything in my closet was with accessories!!
When you have people visit from out of town, where is the first place you think to bring them to dinner?
I’m obsessed with Holland House‘s fall menu! It’s ridiculous….I mean, pumpkin gnocchi with duck confit? One of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth! And at the risk of joining all the other food lovers, City House!
What is your favorite thing to do on Saturday night?
Hit a local wine bar, like Rumors East, or bring the wine bar to our casa.
How life changing has it been becoming a mother?
Well, we bring the wine bar to our casa, often! Seriously though, life has just been enriched. She’s such a sweet little snugs and I’m so glad she’s in the world. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, having a little person to care for, but she’s really just fit into the family nicely!
What word, or two or three, best describes you?
Eclectic pursuits and interests, tenacious, and always on the go!
What is currently on your bedside table, or iPad/Kindle, that you are reading?
Before I had Haven (end of July), I had read over 50 books since January on my Kindle app. Since I’ve had Haven, I haven’t cracked open a book or a magazine. My W‘s are piling up! But I read anything and everything, when I have time.
Would you share the ultimate Kyah Hillis dinner party playlist with us?
These are albums that I put on the shuffle on the iPod (I keep it mostly local):
- Sam and Ruby
- Civil Wars
- Mat Kearney
- If Natalie Hemby would put a record, I would have that on there too!
What are you most hoping for this holiday season?
I’m just looking forward to great time with the family and really excited to get The Trunk out on the streets in Nashville. Keep an eye out for us!
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding family, friends and God.)
- My MacBook Air
- Wine and coffee (they get equal billing!)
- High Heels
For behind the scenes photos, be sure to check out photographer Ashley Hylbert’s blog, click here.