If you want to inject some personality into your home, look no further than Maison Mishmashi.
With Syrian heritage, Maya Toron Al Omary grew up between the US and France and then spent some time in Morocco before making Dubai her home, there is definitely a cross-cultural references throughout her creations.
Her colourful statement pieces are now available at THAT concept store at Mall of the Emirates. A space to discover the brand and artisanal pieces from all over the world, Al Omary has created an exclusive home-grown collection of pillows, puffs and other home furnishings to inspire a new attitude of your personal space.
Get to know the Creative Director who will be enhancing your home, one unique piece at a time.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Sociology. I have realised the older I get I am more and more fascinated by the way of people and the reality that living is a continual process of growth and adaptation. Today I am convinced and it really seems hard to deny, that the way we come to express ourselves through our work is a product of our socialisation.
What was your first job?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. Having married fairly young, I always searched for what would help me achieve my personal ideal work/life balance. So my first real job was an art/café which I started in the US and where I learned to make the meanest cappuccinos – the foam standing sky high – I took the barista part of the job quite seriously.
What inspired you to launch Maison Mishmashi?
I started Mishmashi at a pivotal point in my life, I was searching for what could have deep meaning for me, and so I decided, with the push from my entourage of family and dear friends, to follow my passion of design but just as important, create a brand under which I would document my journey, processes and creations and connect through them to people on an emotional level. That part of the vision came from within, I trusted my instinct without any real business plan and so The Mishmashi Life was born. Now known as Maison Mishmashi, I have a platform through which I share my creative methods, products, inspirations and lifestyle ideas both from home and in the studio – in recent years it is very much about our design collections and our beloved Queen Pouf Chair. Our motto is ‘What You Love is Beautiful’ because I believe there are no rules or limits to define a beautiful design. My designs come from my imagination but also spring from a conscious awareness and research and the merge between fashion and interiors. A large part of my philosophy and aesthetic also has to do with my biography. Both of my parents are accomplished painters, and so I grew up appreciating the experimental process. Having been raised in New York and Paris also gave me early exposure to the amazing ways that classical design and modern functionality cross – a contrast that is reflected in my work. Finally, I feel that my Syrian origin imbues my creations with folklore and emotion. It’s Simply Mishmashi.
What are the key elements of your role?
I am exactly what my designation says, Creative Director. I personally select and source all my fabrics, I design my pieces and have a team of very talented and gifted people who literally “stitch” my designs to reality. I am also in charge of my social media platform as I place great importance in continuing to tell my story in an honest fashion true story and overseeing the running of my daily operation.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Don’t look at life or your potential business as a race to the finish line. Believe in yourself, grow organically. Which leads me to “adaptability” – yes, a business plan is a helpful tool but it shouldn’t be the ultimate, unchanging guide for your business. Sometimes things change, and you should be able to adapt your plan to those changes.
Which fashion brands can we find in your work wardrobe?
You will find so many different brands, a “mishmash’ in my closet quite literally– I choose my clothes as I do my fabrics, what makes my heart skip a beat- this can sometimes be a rare find from a flea market or local artisan shop in my visits abroad. Ahem, I still love my Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags but just as much love, and cannot live without, my Stan Smiths, Converse and Golden Goose babies (I practically live in sneakers). My clothes are a simple array of local and international designers- if I like the fit – it’s a done deal.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Follow your heart and instinct and don’t worry about being” successful” now – rather be genuine, honest and true to yourself and what you are offering, the success will follow.
And what is the worst?
“Keep Your Business and Personal Life Separate” – While there can be some merit to this piece of advice in certain situations, I truly don’t think it’s an absolute rule. I feel my business is organically thriving thanks to a great deal to the personal touch and our story we share with customers whether in person or through social media, this has proven to be so valuable, you can’t even put it into words. Everything that Is part of the weave of my journey without airing any real personal drama of course! But being a little bit open and personable with my customers, in my experience, is a good thing.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge would have to be when I acquired my first studio in the beginning stages of my business. I was still focused on developing my brand identity at the time and was also seriously experimenting with my designs. I quickly found my overhead costs increasing and sales not even close enough to cover most of it. I then kept reading and asking and eventually found ways to bring down some of my costs, which included the hard decision of moving my studio. This taught me the hard lesson that “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own” – I continued speaking to people, learning from their experiences, reading and researching from other stories. The silver-lining was a life lesson – we benefit from “their” experience as well as our own and we can inherit new wisdom and knowledge by keeping an open mind and adapting to what may be happening now even as we look to the future.
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