This Capitol Hill entrepreneur is making waves… with inflatable pools

Myllebeck (Image: Margo Vansynghel)

(Image: Mylle)

Kristin Myllebeck’s office has all the trappings of a fashion stylist’s workplace. Four small, graphic purses hang on spread-out hooks on the wall, like an art installation. A faux-cowhide rug partly covers the polished concrete floor, and on the floating wall shelves stands a framed Warhol reproduction, on which a bold, black typeface spells out “I like boring things.”

What stands out: Myllebeck’s office is filled with pools.

Deflated ones.

Since Myllebeck debuted her inflatable pool company Mylle (pronounced mile) last year, she’s been fulfilling orders from all over the country, sending them out one by one by mail.

“They’ve been popular in Brooklyn and in LA where people’s backyards are like the size of the pool,” Myllebeck, who worked as a fashion stylist for Nordstrom for over a decade, said.

 

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The pools are not quite kiddie pools. With their 65-inches in diameter and 15-inches in height, and thick, less flimsy vinyl they are designed for the design-minded parents as much as for the Instagram-conscious who likely lack a large garden with a pool but don’t mind the $100-115 price tag. Pools for the Glossier generation, say. Yes, there’s a millennial pink one.

Besides her office, Myllebeck’s stocks most of her pools in a storage unit and garage. “We don’t have that much space,” she says of her Capitol Hill townhouse.

That “pretty small” square footage (and her 3.5-year-old daughter), she says, prompted her to start thinking about establishing her own pool company. “I don’t buy that much stuff. But I like to buy a few things that are really nice and go with the space. So I was like: Okay, there’s gotta be a cute pool.”

She soon found there were none. Cheap blue kiddie pools, sure. Or ones with the Little Mermaid or kitschy fish. Chic inflatable swans too. “But I was like, who has pools [for that]? Everybody’s moving to urban areas.”

She decided to design one. It’d be easy, she figured. Just “call the pool people and put a cute design on it.”

That is, of course, when she found out it wasn’t easy. And that “the pool people” are hard to find. Pool and watertight inflatables production has moved overseas since the eighties, Myllenbeck said. Finding a partner to help her produce it there (and make sure labor conditions and quality were A-OK, she says), and drawing CAD designs and fabricating the pools took longer than she expected.

Mylle launched early in 2018, and Myllebeck says she broke even in December that same year. Her first pool, rendered in a subdued black-and-white print, has sold out — thanks to some help. From friends or friends-of-friends (including, among others, local band Thunderpussy during their yearly pool party), so-called ‘micro-influencers’, Instagram hype, and raving press from online design outlets such as Design Milk (who called one of her pools “the coolest”) and Architectural Digest (who declared to be “obsessed” over these “inflatable pools for design lovers”).

Retailers in Canada and Hong Kong now stock her pools, and Myllebeck says she’s in talks to add a major US retailer to that list next year.

“I think people forget about how fun it is to have a glass of rose in a pool,” she said of why she thinks it’s such a success. “And this has kind of been a reminder.”

Learn more about Mylle at mylleshop.com.

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