First came cutting boards and butcher blocks, then bowls and accessories for the home. But a smoked ice cube in a cocktail from CinéBistro in Hyde Park Village got Cole Miles thinking more creatively about what he could do. The experience intrigued him enough to create Higher Order, a wooden drink smoker that could bring a top quality, luxury experience into the home.
His woodworking career began out of necessity while working on home renovations, specifically concrete counter tops. In order to support such heavy countertops, it was imperative for him to create reliable structures to hold up the countertops.
He learned all of these skills by watching YouTube videos and conducting his own research. After flipping and refurbishing homes, Miles knew he wanted to become more involved with design, not just production.
Born and raised in Tampa, Miles finds his inspiration around the city. The Riverwalk, museums, well-designed urban architecture, as well as new ideas from other local entrepreneurs. He evolves his creativity by immersing himself in the community.
Heavily inspired by architecture, Miles is learning more about the world of design. He searches for new ideas in everything from sculpture to painting to pottery to artwork in all different mediums. Instagram has become his favorite tool for learning about new projects to work on and finding out what products people need and want. Painting and drawing are also creative outlets Miles has used, as he describes it as “having creativity that’s not bound by money at all. So it feels like it’s natural.’’
Miles refers to his workshop near Jefferson High School as an “idea incubator.” He took a risk by opening this shop and upgrading his tools, but it paid off in dividends. He began working on random jobs and would do “a little bit of everything.” Through the opening of his idea incubator, Miles has plugged himself into the architecture and arts scene, earned credibility, and met some very skilled architects who have gotten him great work. Each product has been a direct result of his shop.
His latest brand, Higher Order, has become Miles’ main focus over the last few months. A Kickstarter fund-raising campaign
in May and June netted about $57,000 in purchase orders, which he and his team are working now to fulfill.
Selling roughly 60,000 units in the first 33 days has allowed him to hire a fully qualified staff that can produce high quality products, while giving creators interesting and meaningful work. Miles hopes to make his working environment fun, friendly, and inspirational. This will allow the creators to branch off and formulate new ideas and concepts to then test on the market.
The difference with Higher Order is a better quality product for a cheaper price. Competitors charge around 50 percent more due to outsourced production. Higher Order is manufactured in house, in the USA, reinforcing the sense of community and facilitating the consumer to company relationship.
Miles strives to make Higher Order “the people’s smoker,” by keeping it affordable, yet high quality, Miles’ advice is for everyone to spend time and effort to be creative.
“Work that muscle. Let it be bad, make bad choices, fail hard, and try new things.”
Learn more at Higher Order
and at Cole’s Playground on Instagram