So, where is M.Y.O at now?
It's been just over 2 years now since Diana and I decided to go all-in on M.Y.O, after testing the concept with a little pop up. Our aim was to become London's only art gym for your creative muscles, providing adults with the place to get inspired and be creative. We've now helped 8,000 lovely guests who were up for a creative time and it has been magic. Adding that figure up recently really surprised me. It feels like we're only getting started too!
From solo guests wanting to chill out for a couple of hours, to friends catch ups, birthdays, hen parties, stag dos, company team building afternoons, off-sites, brand activations, freshers weeks and tonnes more.
You never regret exercise and from what I've seen, you never regret exploring your creative side either. The smiles don't lie.
The M.Y.O team - legends
We couldn't do any of this without a brilliant and reliable team, past and present. The team are the life and soul of M.Y.O and all get a major kick out of helping others explore their creative side. It's particularly special when someone decides to try something new, be different or goes outside their comfort zone, so I'm very grateful that all the team always have a smile, bring positivity and really care about ensuring everyone has a relaxing, fun and creative time, whilst making something to be proud of.
Big shout outs to current members of the team who host creative classes for us regularly and are just all round superstars - Charley Ive (theatre director (check out Scrawny Cat) and all-rounder), Georgie Jones (actress, poet, performer, all-rounder), Alex Woolley (script writer, filmographer and all-rounder), Abby Hobbs (master illustrator and runs AbbyHobbs.com), Ros King (textiler and founder of Rebel Bunting), Polly Crossman (master illustrator, stationer (founder of Portland Paper Company) and painter), Jamie Temple (printmaker and founder of Temple Prints) and Liberty Antonia Sadler (artist, filmaker (founder of micro acts)). Past team members include Amy Williams who was a superstar before she moved up Norf with her family and Martha Paton who is now focusing on her music. Kirsty Poole has come on board too as General Manager, more on her below.
They are all very creative themselves, with their own burgeoning creative careers and have really helped grow M.Y.O. I still get a huge kick out of being around them and see what ideas they come up with and what other passions they are going after.
Unlocking the creative side of someone's brain is still a fascinating thing to me.
As many of you know, Diana returned to full-time work a couple of months ago, but is still very much involved! We chat about M.Y.O daily and she helps with classes when she can and is working on some new products, whilst holding down a busy day job. As a couple and after 2 years of working together 24/7, which was great fun, a little change was needed. We are still very much in love, don't worry! Diana will always be the spirit of M.Y.O and we definitely wouldn't have even got started or still be going were it not for her hard work, support and smile :). Thank you Diana. On the plus side too, we actually carve out some more time for actual date nights together now, wahey.
Newbies - Kirsty!
Luckily, we found a diamond to replace Diana and have brought in Kirsty Poole to be the General Manager of M.Y.O. She joined in July and has been a revelation! She quit her quite new corporate job (sorry ex-employer!) to join our more colourful journey and has breathed new life into us, covering studio management, hosting lots of classes, marketing, operations and tonnes more. Thank you Kirsty for taking the plunge and coming on board with us. She's thrown everything into M.Y.O since joining and we really feel Kirsty is going to help take M.Y.O to the next level. Kirsty is like the engine of M.Y.O, if your into engines, think a Wärtsilä RT-flex96C - 109,000 horse power! She's also a dab hand at anything creative. We hope and are very confident she will help drive M.Y.O over the years to come.
Last but not least, a big shout out to you all. We've grown M.Y.O over the last 2 and a bit years because of your support and positive vibes. Word of mouth has been huge for us as we are independent and self funded, so thank you all for spreading the M.Y.O message and / or coming to get creative with us. We exist to serve you and provide you with the platform (materials, equipment, atmosphere how-to), so you can Make Your Own creative ideas come to life. Getting messages of kindness after you enjoyed a session or telling friends and family what we do means the world to us and keeps us going.
There are times when running a startup is hard, with long hours, but the positive vibes and good times keep us all going.
A note - the M.Y.O 'brand'
I often ponder, should Diana or I and the team talk more and be on the Instagram feed etc more - building more of a 'brand' around us, but have come to the following conclusion. M.Y.O isn't about us or the team, as brilliant as they are.
We want those channels to be a gateway into seeing what is possible for people creatively. The large majority of what you see are done by complete beginners in the studio. Your imagination is a unique thing and we want to show you what can be done once you take the time to explore it, either with M.Y.O or elsewhere - we really don't mind where.
We hope it inspires you either way to see what is achievable, once you seize the opportunity.
M.Y.O is about you and showing what is possible when you use your imagination in a creative way and get those hands messy.
We have lots of new things we are working on and will be launching later this year and throughout 2020. Things like providing creative spaces to companies, bringing more creativity to events, launching an online shop (where you'll be able to buy lots of lovely things the team have created, but also some M.Y.O products - watch this space...), helping others set up their own M.Y.O's (franchising), lots of how-to videos and more. We haven't had the time to pursue these to date, but now a lot of my role is making these happen.
M.Y.O is still very much a baby, let's see where its colourful wings get to next!
The time is now. The revolution is over, creativity is winning.
Thanks again everyone,
Co-creator of M.Y.O - The Art Gym for your Creative Muscles!