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A day in the life of Mariya Dykalo

The creative director of Aspinal of London explains why her education was the best investment she ever made.

What does your diary look like today?
Always busy. I jump out of bed full of ideas. I love designing in my studio surrounded by swatches and sketches. The creative process is addictive, so I can easily go on into the night. I always enjoy working with my team at Aspinal.

Which task are you most looking forward to today?
After some time in the studio I’ll be in a long meeting to review our collection for summer 15. It’s always exciting making decisions with the team and seeing everybody’s reactions to new samples. Then we each choose our three favourite bags and test them for a month. We try them in different situations, see how the leather and materials wear, and how new features or clasps work. There is always something to be improved. I want my bags to be as practical as they are beautiful. I usually like to spend the evening with my family but sometimes I sneak back into my home studio. Some ideas just can’t wait!

Which task do you wish you could postpone?
Tidying my desk, which is usually covered with fashion magazines, sketches and other inspiration, pastels, leather swatches, clasps and metal trimmings. I always end up designing in the middle of tidying and then I can’t stop. I really don’t like receiving emails as well. They are a distraction from the creative process.

How did you get to where you are today?
In the Ukraine we take education seriously. I spent three years at the Lviv College of Design, specialising in fashion design and ready-to-wear pattern making. Then I attended the Lviv National Academy of Art & Design for six years, where I immersed myself in ready-to-wear and accessories for my master’s degree, specialising in leather accessories. In between, I gained experience as a pattern cutter at Ukrainian fashion brand Vesna-Zahid in Lviv. I supported myself by designing clothes and ended up with a little business. I’ve always loved British culture so I moved to London to improve my English and in 2006 started work at Aspinal, as a design intern. Basically I’ve worked hard for a brand I love from the bottom all the way up.

What has been your career highlight?
Designing the Marylebone Tech Tote. All our products are my babies but this was very special. The Marylebone Tote is Aspinal’s iconic heritage handbag, named after our Marylebone High Street store in London. As soon it was launched in 2012, it instantly became our bestselling style. This particular bag took its inspiration from our traditional Brook Street style. I started by increasing the height of the Brook Street, unbuckled and released the sides, then added internal pockets for an iPad and iPhone. The new size can carry A4 documents. For summer 14 the Marylebone is now available with an integral ‘juice pack’ charger and cable, so you can charge your phone and tablet on the move. It’s always a challenge to create the next bestselling bag and I’m constantly looking for great ideas.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?
My studies were quite long but I don’t regret anything about that period. It has all been an important journey, which allowed me to pick up new skills and inspirations.

Who is your mentor?
My parents have always supported my desire to study, understanding that my real passion was fashion and design, even if they had to make big sacrifices.

What’s the best piece of advice they’ve given you?
They’ve always told me that in life you’ve got to do what you love and never give up.

How do you see your career progressing?
I see myself staying at Aspinal for a long time and my biggest goal would be to see the brand on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. I believe Aspinal can be the next British worldwide luxury brand.

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
I really can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
If you want to be a part of this industry you’ve got to invest in education, the best wardrobe you can afford and loads of fashion magazines.

  • Salaries for this position start at a minimum of £100,000, dependent on the brand (estimate provided by CVUK)

If you want to be featured on the Drapers Jobs page, email james.knowles@emap.com

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