18 September 2021
She shot to fame as one of the faces of the pop group Hear’Say in 2001, yet the Myleene Klass success story did not stop there.
With her business empire including fashion brands, fitness ranges, presenting roles, online music classes, an ongoing classical music career and a huge social media following on numerous platforms, this 43-year-old mother of three is one of the great female success stories of the last two decades.
As she sat down with Female First for the first part of our exclusive interview, Myleene opened up on a remarkable career that could have been stopped at first base as she battled with the eye condition myopia, with her success in overcoming her difficulties an inspiration to all.
Research shows that over two-thirds (69%) of parents are unaware that anything can be done to help slow the progression of myopia, but Myleene is keen to raise awareness of the importance of eye health.
Speaking to us in association with CooperVision, this is an interview that highlights the potential of a female entrepreneur who has built a business empire that can be admired by all.
You have had an incredible career with so many different facets, but did you ever imagine this was possible when you were growing up?
The biggest thing I remember about my childhood is the problems I had with my eyesight due to myopia. It is a condition that causes distant objects to appear blurred and it was a massive problem for me.
First of all, I was the only kid in school wearing glasses when I was four years old and it just wasn’t cool.
I also suffered badly with headaches all the time, I couldn’t see my music, then I had big problems when I took my glasses off for sport. Then I wouldn’t be able to see the ball, wouldn’t be able to find the end of the swimming pool. I kept thinking I was going to bang my head. It was such a debilitating feeling.
As a child, I would sit so closely to my sheet music or virtually on top of my workbooks at school. I found it all embarrassing. Myopia is known to run in families and may also lead to an increased risk of future eye health problems, so I’m always asking my kids about their vision.
So did you struggle to feel accepted when you were at school?
All kids want to fit in and I was the one who played the violin, loved classical music and wore glasses. That was not the ideal combination for someone who wanted to fit in growing up in Norfolk.
The inner ten-year-old in me would never have believed there would now be contact lenses available that would slow down the progression of myopia and make someone’s life so much better. It’s just fantastic.
You need to get your children checked early in their lives and make sure their eyesight is in good condition because without that, it can be a lifetime of headaches and bumping into things.
How important is it to raise awareness of myopia and the contact lenses that can help the condition?
The last 18 months have not been great as kids have all been on screens and it hasn’t been great for them as people and their eyes.
You need to get your children checked early in their lives and make sure their eyesight is in good condition because without that, it can be a lifetime of headaches and bumping into things, so we need to take our eye health very seriously.
And if you have got myopia, CooperVision now have these amazing contact lenses that slow down the development of the condition and they are just fantastic.
Given that challenging start to life, your success in so many fields of business has been incredible. What gives you the most pride?
The aspects of my career that I look back on with most fondness are the ones where I stepped out of my comfort zone and went in a direction I didn’t expect.
I was part of a band in Hear’Say and it opened me up to the world of marketing and selling a brand. I knew nothing about this and it was a real eye-opener… excuse the pun.
Hear’Say was an apprenticeship in business school for me and that experience helped me to build my own children’s brand, my own clothing brand. It allowed me to do things I wasn’t pigeoned holed to do, yet I’ve been able to do it thanks to the initial challenges I had.
My Next clothing collection has been running since 2006 and that is the longest-running celebrity clothing brand in the UK, which is a nice thing to say.
It seems as if you don’t like to have one project to work on and is that changing landscape important to keep you motivated?
I like to do lots of different things and people think that’s unusual, but it should’t be. I wouldn’t ask you to eat the same dinner every day, so why not challenge yourself and do new things. I have friends who have always done the same job, always eat the same things and they like that clockwork routine, but I love to be surprised and for no two days to be the same. I love to try new things that I haven’t experienced before and it certainly keeps you on your toes.
I’ve worked for CNN in the world of entertainment, with Save The Children making huge changes with crisis zones and I’ve worked with pop bands and played music for royalty. You just never know what the next day is going to bring.
Myleene Klass is partnering with CooperVision MiSight 1 day® contact lenses, in a campaign to raise awareness of the increase of myopia in children and the ability to slow its progression with their specialist contact lenses. For expert advice and to hear Myleene’s experience of growing up with myopia, visit www.coopervision.co.uk/brilliantfutures.
In part two of our interview with Myleene, we will get her thoughts on being a mother, the dangers and benefits of social media and dealing with fame. Check it out next week.
Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @RealKevinPalmer.