IN WHAT PARTS OF LONDON DO YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME?
When I’m in London, I mostly spend my time in Mayfair and St James’s as my workspace is currently on the top floor of our Aspinal flagship store in Regent Street St James’s, which opened in 2018. I also love jumping in a cab to one of my favourite lunch spots – The Ned, close to our beautiful Aspinal store in The Royal Exchange. I am lucky to be able to combine my personal and work life between London and the English countryside where my home is based, in the South Downs National Park in West Sussex.
WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF LONDON?
My earliest memory of London is from when I first came to the city from Ukraine in 2004. I remember being so impressed by how cosmopolitan the city was. I loved the vibe and energy, it felt exciting. I remember thinking there was so much to do, always something going on – an incredible exhibition or an event where I would meet fascinating, talented people. This buzz is something I have missed so much during 2020.
WHAT MAKES LONDON SPECIAL TO YOU?
London is special to me because I find it to be the most diverse city and one of the most welcoming. Coming from Ukraine, I have always loved how the British completely embrace individuality and eccentricity – there are endless opportunities for talented young artists and entrepreneurs.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE LONDON IN THREE WORDS?
Cosmopolitan, fascinating, creative.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LONDONER?
Oscar Wilde for his wittiness, and my friend David Gandy for his incredible British sense of style.
WHAT’S YOUR USUAL MORNING RITUAL?
I like my mornings to be as healthy as possible, I feel like this sets me off on the right track for the rest of the day. I always begin with my favourite loose green or jasmine tea brewed in my special copper teapot that I bought in China. Then yoga or a training session – this used to be in person with my trainer but now our sessions are mostly on FaceTime. For breakfast every day I have my favourite fresh green juice blended with vitamins and an organic protein powder to keep my immunity up, this has been my saviour this year. My family and I now all take extra vitamin D every morning, which I read is important to protect you from Covid and keep your immune system in the best condition.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP A GOOD WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle, even when my work schedule is demanding. It’s important I am strong and fit (without any excuses) to be able to keep up with my children – my son is a teenager now and my daughter is 6, much of our time together is spent being active and adventurous. My work is my outlet for mental escapism, I find designing and being visually creative brings me balance and clarity in my otherwise busy family life.
WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS?
Fashion books are normally my go-to, but in the past 6 months this has shifted towards cookery books! Also, during the past 6 months at Aspinal we have been doing lots of work internally on improving our business practices, to lessen our environmental impact and become a more conscious, sustainable brand. I have been doing my own learning, and as part of this I read the amazing book A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough.
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
The best piece of advice I have been given is from my mother. When I was young, my mother made sure I got the best education, and I remember her saying ‘Education will change your life’. I have never forgotten this, and I believe it to be true – my education has led me to where I am today, enabling me to meet incredible people who have inspired or encouraged me. I also personally love learning in life, I strive to never stop learning, especially from those who I aspire and look up to.
Mariya Dykalo is the creative director of the luxury leather goods and accessories brand Aspinal of London, which has a boutique at The Royal Exchange; aspinaloflondon.com
The Royal Exchange celebrates its 450th anniversary this year. We look forward to welcoming you during 2021, for a considered shopping experience in spectacular and historic surroundings. Please visit our boutiques page for regular updates on our retailers’ opening information and hours