Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles suburb made famous by Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl” (featuring his daughter, Moon Zappa’s bitchin’ Valley-speak), I knew three even more famous – and incredibly rare – triplets who lived down the street.
Years later, I crossed paths with one of them, Kym Gold, who by that time had cofounded one of the most successful U.S. denim companies, True Religion, and had hatched a new, luxury, home ceramics brand. She had the most wicked sense of humor, turning out expensive ceramic jars with labels like “Xanax,” “Weed” and “Edibles” on them. Her line of substantial dishware and stunning kitchen ceramics were ridiculous. I coveted every piece and secretly hoped she’d send one to me for Christmas.
To my story-telling publicist wit, I could not have fallen into a better situation to help tout the incredible fashion maven’s bent on homeware, called Style Union Home.
While I spent a teenage-hood searching endlessly for red-haired Maui Wowie, stickie Thai Stick and Da Kine Ganja, Kym and her sisters had moved to Malibu and were hanging out with movie stars like Rob Lowe, Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen (known then as Charlie Estevez). When I was 18, wondering aimlessly on the campus of Pierce College, only interested in the art history classes when I needed to pass chemistry, Kym was traipsing downtown, knocking on doors of clothing manufacturers, buying their seconds and selling enough of them on the Venice boardwalk to buy a duplex. I’m sure that one lazy Saturday in the 80’s I was on that boardwalk, admiring the incense and Bob Marley paraphernalia while Kym was there making a killing on clothing.
“Are you the same Alyson Dutch, whose brother I think I dated?” were the first words I heard from Kym in years one day, in the middle of the 2020 pandemic. Ironically enough, Kym was introduced to me by another former life colleague who was a major marketing maven, in what I call “Beverly Hills Proper.” Dawn Moore, the fabulously feathered hair and sophisticated luxury brand marketer showed up on my driveway one afternoon and we quickly narrowed down that when we last saw one another: she was marketing Christofle and I was publicizing Lisa Kudrow’s wedding in her store (someone with whom Kym and I shared junior high school rooms – and that’s a whole other story).
One day, while furiously trying to get Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attention to endorse a client’s brilliant solar EV charger, I ran into another younger life colleague, who ties this story all together – the publisher of this magazine, Charlotte Parker. A publicist at the infamous Rogers & Cowan for many years, she was Arnold’s rep then, but has since resurrected this 1970’s gem of a publication: Head Magazine.
“I don’t smoke weed, but I support those who do,” said the cheeky Kym Gold from the incredible home she designed from the ground up, ironically enough in Encino; where this all started.
One of the most productive and creative people I’ve ever met, Kym was in her 20’s when she purchased a dream piece of real estate in Malibu and built a home that hosted Steven Tyler concerts for birthday parties. I landed up in Malibu when I got divorced, accidentally started a PR agency and scraped to buy a dream Porsche, funds of which could only buy one from 1984.
She was a hostess at Alice’s Restaurant on the Malibu Pier (yes, the same place that Arlo Guthrie sang about), when she met a blonde Londoner named Mark Burnett. They married (and divorced). Years later, I lived up the street from him when he was rumbling around Malibu in that signature yellow Land Rover, emblazoned with Eco Challenge logos and eventually created shows like Survivor and more.
Hearing Kym’s story and reading her book, “The Gold Standard,” made me feel like I was standing still all these years. She is a force in fashion, building five companies, taking them public, wrangling boards of directors, investors, fashion copycats all while producing three beautiful boys who, even today, come to Sunday night dinner. I was divorced for 20 years, dating anyone who would ask and publicizing everything from beer made from prehistoric bee yeast to basketball shoes that prevented ankle sprains. My kids were my dogs.
Kym’s foray into home fashion happened in what sounds like a stoner’s delight, but was an innocent mother and son creative birthday party in a potter’s studio. “I had never played with clay,” the be-speckled and tattooed Kym notes in her signature throaty laugh, “but once I got my hands into this stuff, business ideas started popping. Before the day was out, I was thinking about seasons of ceramic pieces that I had always wanted and needed for the homes I was designing. I said to my son, ‘this would be a great hobby,’ to which my son, being my son, responded: “To you Mom, nothing is a hobby.”
Charlotte and I were talking about other things when I realized that Kym’s “Weed” jars needed to in this magazine, but we couldn’t figure out a way to present them that fit the editorial direction of this legendary read. This story is what ensued.
Moral of the story: your beginnings are what make you today. I no longer indulge in the ganja either, but the nostalgia of reading this magazine warms my heart and brings me back to a time when exploration of life led me around like a ring in the nose of a bull.
A few years ago, when MJ began its comeback, I was summoned to a meeting in Venice for, of course, a dispensary. I’ll never forget how odd it felt to be sitting at a conference table around, oh probably three pounds of green skunk weed. I stopped in the middle of the conversation to say, “um, can I just open this jar and smell this?” I’d never seen so much pot in one place, so casually, in my life.
Things have certainly changed.
And, many of you, dear readers, wore Kym’s jeans. I never did. My mother bought me Sears catalogue clothes and I only had my first pair of designer jeans when I could afford to buy them for myself. Kym Gold, you are at the head of the class and what class you have. I would die to fill my kitchen with your incredible ceramic ware – and maybe one day I will.
Alyson Dutch is a product launch publicist who spends a lot of time writing for her clients, magazines such as Inventors Digest, CEO World, The New Economy and is the author of two books, The PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs and the P.O.M. Principle (P for product, O for operations, M for marketing): The 3 Pillars Need to Launch Any Product. She is the founder of Malibu-based Brown + Dutch PR, Inc. and Consumer Product Events.