The crafty start-up that helps grown-ups get creative

The crafty start-up that helps grown-ups get creative
Sam Lehane
Sam LehaneM.Y.O

Posted: Fri 10th Aug 2018

Accountant turned arts and crafts entrepreneur Sam Lehane tells the story of his business, M.Y.O ('Make Your Own'), which hosts workshops to help grown-ups get creative.

We're proud to have people like Sam as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?

It was born on a chilly New Year's day walk in 2017, as we chatted about how nice it would be to have a place where we could just chill out, try something creative, maybe even learn pottery without household distractions (no tempting laundry!) or needing to buy lots of materials and equipment.

We trained as accountants, and true to the stereotype, we rarely expressed our creative side (it was locked away for years!) but we found creating, painting and getting our hands dirty incredibly fun and relaxing, so we felt we had to share the experience with more people!

In an increasingly digital age, we thought people would want a non-tech place to unwind. A really nice way to do that is by experimenting and making something through arts and crafts, so we set up M.Y.O ('Make Your Own').

We hope M.Y.O inspires you, helps you relax, unleashes your creativity and most importantly, is fun!

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Initially, we ran M.Y.O whilst also working part-time (Sam) and full-time (Diana), so it was a little bit of a struggle juggling it all and there were lots of late nights, but since October 2017 we have been full focused on M.Y.O and it's been great to have the freedom to work on it full-time.

We also recently fitted out a new studio space in Peckham Levels, working alongside a local design studio.

It was an interesting process arranging electrics and lighting (there was no electricity or lights), designing the space and ultimately building it and fitting it out. Being organised was a huge help and having clear deadlines in mind to work towards. It was inevitably delayed, but we're very happy with how it turned out and are very excited for people to come visit.

What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?

Finding and building the second studio, but has been lots of little milestones and things along the way like being featured in the Evening Standard and Business Insider, hosting over 2,000 people and companies like BCG, Sainsbury's, The Premier Inn, finding and training in a team, speaking at a Virgin StartUp event about the journey.

It's been a lot of hard work, but lots of fun and positive things seem to happen just went we need an energy boost; such is the life of start-ups!

What is your next big business goal?

The immediate goal is to fill the capacity in the two creative studios we now have, standardise our processes a little more, grow and support the team as much as we can and have a monumental Christmas of creative fun.

Then, in 2019 we can start thinking of another site and seeing what other complementary revenue streams we could pursue (we've got lots of ideas!).

What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?

Having the patience and persistence to play the long game and trust the process behind the mission.

Franchising could be an option for us in the future, so we need to do a lot of work on that from now.

We also have to ensure we keep standards up so guests continue to really enjoy their creative experience and ensure that we constantly change things up so we continue to appeal to guests, companies and parties.

How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?

We've gone to events and found the information on the website incredibly helpful. One of the events was with the founder of Love Crafts, an online marketplace for crafts materials, which is a huge business and has got tens of millions of pounds of investment and has spread from the UK to the US. It's inspired us to think bigger and dream that maybe one day that could be us!

There are also some great deals available, which we need to avail of more!

Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?

For me (Sam), I really admire Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, SolarCity) and what he is really trying to achieve by using his companies as a means to get there (save mankind by having access to another planet, whilst also reducing carbon emissions etc on Earth).

He's taken on a few industries, quickened innovation in those industries and shared tonnes of patents in lots of cases so that other companies can get better also. He gets a lot of slack, but I think what he is trying to do is cool and he works incredibly hard and smart. 
Diana loves Sara Blakely (Spanks) as her tenacity and personality is amazing. How she got started shows that if you put you mind to it, are ready to get your hands dirty and are dedicated, you can do it.

What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

Patience and persistence. build a business for the future and try to make your business a little better each week (operationally, financially, product wise etc). The weeks add up!

Have a circle of people you can chat to about problems and solutions in your business, getting an outside opinion really helps as you can get tunnel vision as get bogged down in the day to day.

For the first sixmonths we just went for it with M.Y.O and were very reactive, we're now more proactive on things and set goals for every three months and have a weekly meeting where we discus how last week went and plan out the week ahead (with the three month goals in mind). But, always have the bigger vision in mind also.

Anything else you would like to share?

We did a race day banner making workshop at the Hackney Half Marathon earlier this summer and MTV presenter Laura Whitmore popped in unbeknown to us (she had big sunglasses on), took a picture with some banners and posted it on Twitter and Instagram.

We got lots of traffic from that which was fun to see.

Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.

Sam Lehane
Sam LehaneM.Y.O
M.Y.O is a creative space for grown ups in London, where you can enjoy the mindfulness benefits of being creative through arts & crafts, in a fun and relaxed environment. Great for a team building session or with friends and family.

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