1. So, tell us a little about you.
I’m Diana – co-creator of M.Y.O (Make Your Own) and I live in South East London with my boyfriend Sam (the other Co-creator of M.Y.O). I am originally from Kenya and I moved to the UK when I was nearly 13 years old!
2. What’s your story? Tell us a little about your background and what you do.
Before setting up M.Y.O with Sam in 2017, I was working in Finance in a FTSE 100 drinks company and prior to that I was a financial consultant (and qualified accountant) in one of the Big 4 companies. I studied economics at university so finance was the logical route for me to go – and I really enjoyed it. However, as time went on, I also began wanting to be more creative, using my hands and imagination more and doing more visual work. I also had aspirations to start my own business (though I didn’t imagine it happening this early!). So when Sam & I started talking about being more creative, how nice it would be to have a dedicated adult arts and crafts space which then became the idea behind M.Y.O, it was really perfect! I quit my job in August 2017 and jumped in full time to M.Y.O (Woohoo!)
3. What artist or artwork inspired you the most growing up?
My interest in art slowly began when I moved to the UK and got exposed to art in primary school (it wasn’t really a thing in Kenya!). I particularly enjoyed doing collages and I remember really enjoying doing one of Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portraits and thinking “whoa you can make bits of paper look like a face?!”. My mum also bought a Joan Miro print for our home and I remember looking at it for ages fascinated by how weird and colourful it was. I didn’t understand it, but I was intrigued!
4. What artist are most inspires you now?
I absolutely love Henri Matisse’s work – they are just so bright and colourful and they make me very happy – particularly The Sheaf and La Perruche et la Sirene (below)! I also love how he experimented with different mediums – from painting and sculpture to cut outs and decoupage – that curiosity and try it attitude I think is inspiring. Sam and I went to a Matisse exhibition on our third date which was so lovely and makes it extra special for me. I also made a Matisse tote bag for one of my friends who came to M.Y.O all the way from Aus!
I also really like Wassily Kadinsky – again lots of colour and bold shapes and Pablo Picasso. I went to the recent Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern which was fantastic!
Closer to home, the artists that inspire me day to day are the guests who visit M.Y.O. No joke – some of the stuff you guys make is just incredible (and I’m like, I want to try making that!). Check out our instagram for some of my favourites!
5. What do you create mostly for work and what do you create mostly for fun?
For M.Y.O I create a whole range of things as examples are always needed, and we are always trying out new techniques or mediums for existing or new classes! From Tshirts to decoupage, pottery and tiles, headdresses and weaving (current work in progress)! The great thing is what I create for work, I then end up doing for fun as I try, learn and experiment! My go to would be pinch pots as I often teach the hand made pottery class which is so relaxing and has time for you to get experimental. I also like making tshirts as it’s quick, satisfying and adds to your wardrobe!
6. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why? [Include picture if possible]
This is the first pinch pot I made when I was started learning handmade pottery! It became sort of like our M.Y.O mascot, and the cactus in it lasted 1 year from since I made! I also love this Starry Night painting I did at POP UP Painting with Sam last year. This experience really was the catalyst to starting M.Y.O – it was so fun, so relaxing and I thought, if I can be creative, so can everyone!
7. Do you think people are just born creative or is it something everyone has, but many don’t explore?
I totally think everyone can be creative, one way or another – just not everyone has had a chance or knows how to explore it. Be it music, art, crafting, writing, acting – everyone has an activity that enables them to channel their creativity, be in the state of flow (when you are so engaged and focused, sort of like a trance), and make something, an expression of themselves that makes them smile and can be proud of.
8. What’s your favourite colour? Why?
YELLOW! Haha. I think it’s just such an energetic cheerful colour and it genuinely brightens up my mood, especially when London is looking abit grey. It is also the colour of creativity which is perfect for M.Y.O.
9. What’s your favourite album to listen to whilst you create and why?
Sam collated an awesome Spotify playlist – M.Y.O chill out and create – which is perfect for switching off and just focusing on what you are doing. It’s a mix of London Grammar, The XX, Bon Iver, Ben Howard. I think guests love this playlist too as I am often asked “oo what playlist is this, I love these songs!”
10. If you were stuck on a desert island and had to bring 3 items with you to create with, what would you bring!?
Clay, water, black paint! Then I can pinch pot and paint away to my hearts content!
11. If you could give advice to yourself growing up, with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?
Don’t stress too much about what you will be when you grow up – there is so much opportunity in the world to change direction! Just focus on learning now and listening to yourself – your likes, dislikes and what energizes you. After all, you can only be your best and do your best when you are being authentic with yourself!
12. What / who made you decide to become a professional creative, rather than doing it as a hobby?
The realisation that other people felt like me; wanted to be creative and didn’t know – and that I had a good idea of how to bring creativity to people! Although I wasn’t an artist before, it was empowering knowing that we had a good idea that would make people happy, that would bring a bit more fun and colour to people’s lives and that Sam and I had the skills and energy to do it. It was scary because I thought "oh no – will I look like a fraud?" . But then I realised it’s not really about being an expert, its about grabbing the opportunity and working with people for a mission you believe in! Everything else you learn along the way.
13. What makes you most happy?
Sunny days, going on holiday (to a beach), making things in the studio for our flat, seeing people really proud of what they have created at M.Y.O. One person once said to me “I feel really at home in your studio – it’s my happy place” and I couldn’t help grinning. Creating a happy place for people, makes me happy.
14. What’s next for you? What you would like to be doing in 12 months?
I would love to keep building M.Y.O so that we can bring more creativity (new classes, M.Y.O memberships) to existing guests and bring creativity to more people in the city – be it introducing them to the studio or building creative spaces at their work!
15. Is there anything exciting coming up that you would like to let people know about?
We are so excited for the new class – Make Your Own Pearl & Tassel Earrings which launches in Sept 04 in Borough. Also stay tuned – new classes will be announced soon in the coming months – join our newsletter to be the first in the know!