By: Sofia Tate
Photos by: Megan Rooney
In the last few years, numerous beaded and woven bracelets with unique messages have become trends, only to lose popularity just as quickly as they gained it. Many examples come to mind: Pura Vida bracelets, Lokai bracelets, or the OG Livestrong bracelets to name just a few. There are many other spinoffs that have cropped up recently, and although they all carry their own phrase to live by, their mass production makes them seem a little impersonal and even generic. Now the world of fashion runs into a problem: we love the look of stacked, handmade bracelets, but hate unoriginality and the idea that thousands of other people are wearing the exact same thing as you. Thankfully, there are also individuals and small companies that sell small batches of handmade bracelets. I was lucky enough to discover such a brand, and ever since their jewelry has been in heavy rotation in my daily looks. Not only do the bracelets come in many styles and colors, but the message that their creator Miles Johnson hopes to share is inspiring. After interviewing him, I found that this message rings true throughout his wild career journey.
Miles’ career began as a professional actor in New York City touring with Rent and working with Disney. Yet after dedicating so much effort to his acting career, he felt burnt out at 31. He didn’t feel like the work he was doing was giving back to the community or making a difference in the world, so he decided to explore other jobs. After working at Lululemon in the hopes that their efforts to be community-based would resonate with him, he still didn’t feel like it was the right fit. While managing a restaurant, his friends who worked at one of the first SoulCycle locations nearby encouraged him to take a part-time position with them. Shortly after accepting the job, he was cast in a Broadway show and felt he couldn’t refuse such a big opportunity. It wasn’t until he had some difficulty with his contract soon after accepting that he realized he didn’t want to pursue his acting career anymore. He didn’t appreciate the extremely competitive atmosphere or the amount of power that his agents had over his career. He resigned from the show, and returned to SoulCycle as a location manager. He loved the supportive and encouraging atmosphere that SoulCycle promotes, and, after managing, he stepped down to a part time position in the summer of 2013.
That summer, he decided to create a bracelet that incorporated his personal motto, “Live Where You Live,” so he could wear it as a personal reminder. This turned into his first bracelet design, which he followed with many others that he sold to friends. He then partnered with SoulCycle, designing a collection for them which sold out in just two weeks. This was followed by a partnership with Lululemon in their featured artist series “Air Out There,” his bracelets again exceeding expectations. Although the bracelets were received really well, Miles hasn’t grown the company much more due to his desire to keep it has a passion project. Thus he created a small website and became an LLC in order to protect his brand, By Miles.
Miles is now the Senior Manager of Field Culture and Community Development at SoulCycle Inc., a position that he loves. It allows him to personally ensure that SoulCycle’s supportive and community-based atmosphere is upheld in every new location by traveling to them before they open and working with new employees to make sure they understand SoulCycle’s goals.
After asking what Miles’ advice would be to those exploring different career paths, he encourages people to try new things if they think they might be interested, and if they decide they don’t like it to “figure out why you don’t like it, a job is called a job for a reason,” and although work is never going to be all fun, you should find a sense of fulfillment in the work you are doing. His motto to “Live Where You Live,” resonates with him in the sense that everyone should focus on their path and tune out where everyone else is going, to stay at your own pace and trust yourself that you will get where you are going. Although Miles hasn’t expanded his bracelet brand to much more than the collection he has done for SoulCycle and Lululemon, plus the orders he makes for friends, his message is inspiring and his design is unique. After speaking with him about his career story and learning a little bit more about the message his bracelets carry, I find that the bracelets have a deeper and more significant meaning than the larger brands out there. I would encourage everyone to discover smaller companies, jewelry or otherwise, to share a real connection with what the brand stands for and to stay away from the slightly overpriced trends that circulate every few months.