With a heritage born out of Cuban street culture and a growing following in the UK, Havana Club has launched a new platform that provides a space for rising stars to develop their craft. The rum brand is collaborating with up and coming talent from a variety of disciplines and first up is Bristol-born, London-based designer Mia Joseph.
Since launching her label Myae on Depop earlier this year, the brand has become one of the app’s top sellers and counts Jorja Smith, Mabel and Jordyn Woods as just some of her clients. Join BRICKS and Havana Club as we discover the inspiration behind her design process and the secrets of her success.
Hey Mia, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself…
I’m originally from Bristol, but my dad is from Lewisham, so as a kid I was always in London, all my cousins and everyone have always lived here. I tried moving to London when I was 14, but my parents wouldn’t have any of it. When I did move here I was working and ended up moving back to Bristol to save up money. I moved to New York by myself when I was 19, and I Came back to London after a month and finally had a plan. I came back, went to Camberwell College of Arts to do a foundation year, then CSM to do textile print.
I’ve always made stuff since I was young, a friend of mine styles Jorja Smith, it was actually her first styling job, I completely forgot I had given her looks they’d be on tour for so long, and the day she wore it, I’ve been doing this ever since. The timing was perfect.
What does an average day look like to you?
Every day, I have a studio now, I get up at 6/7am and go there and try to make as much as I can in a day. I have two machines now, so I try to find someone who can make stuff as fast as me, but it’s hard. A friend of mine helps me do admin, and someone else helps me sew. Try and do a couple of drops on Depop a week.
Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your designs?
I can’t say there was one type of inspiration as it’s evolved over time, but from my degree, I learned I loved graphics, sharp lines and bold colours. I’m not even one to really wear bright colours, but when it comes to designing I love that, I also love the female form especially.
Do you have collections or focus more on one-off pieces?
For me, it’s more about singular pieces because as something is repetitive, it’s boring. For creative people, when you have an idea and its out of your system, it’s out for your system, you’re then kind of done with it. Because I make everything myself right now, I wouldn’t have to make a 100 of the same thing. It’s much more fulfilling.
In the future, everyone will disregard the fashion structure, the seasons are changing because of what we’re doing to the planet, and I just thing because small brands can be so global now, you don’t need to pay attention to the seasons where you are, someone somewhere is able to wear something at anytime. Obviously, in London in winter, things can be more difficult, on a hot day like today, you’re not going to be thinking about buying something warm for a hot day I don’t stick to any rules in that sense.
What’s your greatest achievement?
I am probably being able to sustain my brand for so long and being able to keep growing constantly. Being able to get certain things done, and grow in that sense, getting everything out of my room and start a studio. Also, Depop is having a concession in Selfridges in September and will be in there for carnival week, having my stuff there is such an achievement!
At first, I wasn’t even going to start a Depop, but it helped cut out a lot of questions I used to get on Instagram. Now I have 10k followers, and I’m one of the best sellers which is crazy that’s happened since Feb to now it’s surreal. I think the opportunities that have come from it like Selfridges I’m so glad I started it.
What have you learned and what are the biggest challenges to being a designer?
Being a designer is only half of your job. You can’t just be a designer. You have got to move smart, get as much advise as possible because everything is a business. You need as much advice from people who are professionals in that field, to avoid making early mistakes. Be wary, celebrate the wins, but when you get one, don’t start slacking, don’t have tunnel vision and be smart. When you do get advice to remember people can be biased, so remember to think about if it applies to you and what you need to disregard. Everything is subjective; you just need to figure what’s relevant to you.
To you, what is the future of fashion?
I think there are a few things at play; everything is a cycle so there will be a reaction to fast fashion people will start to see they’re wearing the same thing and its saturated. But I also think in the world as social media. Small designers can do big things by themselves. You’ll see a lot of people come right from the bottom with not much help and will buy into that.
People doing what they want will force other people to do the same; it will be an excellent evolution for retail in general. It’s all about being online, right now is a pivotal moment for the fashion industry. You can naturally communicate with them directly; I do customer orders, custom investing will make a big difference to designers as they’re more valued items, especially if they had a part in the production process. There’s an equal reaction to an action, the fast fashion will have its day, but there will be a lot of good from it.
Finally, what are your hopes and dreams for the future of your label?
I don’t want to overthink it because I think everything happens the way it should. I don’t want to put too many constraints on it, but I think growth is my main focus. Just keep going.