“My design sensibilities are a direct reflection of who I am as a person, my childhood, my travels, and my surroundings. All my decisions and designs are purely based on how I feel about life, what I love about Maison Mishmashi, who I am, and what I want for my brand and life.”
-Maya Toron Al Omary, founder of Maison Mishmashi furniture
Born and raised in New York to Syrian parents, Maya Toron Al Omary describes herself as a ‘Third Culture Girl.’ Throughout her life, she has done a lot of traveling and lived in the most amazing cities in the world, which has ultimately inspired her designs today.
Maya’s first experience in starting her own business was when she founded an Art Café in the US. Her journey as an entrepreneur continued 22 years ago when she moved to Dubai with her family where she co-founded the first 100% women-run real estate company in 2007. In 2014, Maya started up Maison Mishmashi, a bespoke handworked furniture company. “I have always had a deep appreciation for my surroundings, details have always moved me, and my home has always been my living canvas but I only gained the courage to make it my work when I decided to pursue my deep embedded love for design and share it,” shared Maya, “I had no formal training and was equipped only with my passion and the support of my family and friends. This also allowed me to continue to be around my children while I pursued my dreams.”
Maison Mishmashi’s furniture designs are inspired by all Maya’s passions and experiences. She went on to say, “My aesthetic is really a juxtaposition of so many different passions and loves,” shared Maya, “For me, designing is storytelling. Mixing raw with refined, old and new, patterns, textures, and colors in a signature way. That is in essence what Maison Mishmashi represents.”
Her business name, “Mishmashi,” has a universal meaning of a collection or mixture of unrelated things, and in Arabic, it means “mismatched.” The word “Mishmashism” is the practice and philosophy of understanding and accepting that what you love is beautiful. The name perfectly describes how Maya designs her creations. “I would say my design aesthetic is in fact a ‘mishmash’ of many aesthetics, modern, industrial, classical, urban. I love it all and it all works!” shared Maya. Her goal is to remain consistent with her core philosophy of creating beauty through thoughtful design and her inspiration for new ideas comes from many different things as simple as a table, vase, painting, plant, or something that someone is wearing, patterns, shapes and colors are things she notices in detail.
Maya’s first collection exhibit was in 2016 at Dubai Design Week, where she introduced “The Queen Pouf Chair”. She went on to say, “That was the first time I officially debuted a collection outside my studio. The response was amazing, proudly Made in Dubai, seeing people describe how the pieces made them feel was the best feeling in the world!” expressed Maya, “Until today, after selling thousands of our designs, how people identify with how it makes them feel, is still and exactly what makes me so happy and proud.”
The most challenging and best part about being an entrepreneur
Entering the entrepreneurial journey can be tough. Maya described the most challenging part of her journey has been keeping up with the growth and having to wear multiple hats to ensure her work and services are consistent and intact. “Every day teaches me something but the biggest lesson is not to be afraid to ask for help,” shared Maya, “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the amazing people and mentors who have shared their own experiences with me and guided me.”
Her favorite part about being an entrepreneur is the freedom to be herself and not being afraid to experiment with creativity and work things out her own way. “Maison Mishmashi gave my passion and style a tangible identity that I dreamt could evolve and expand through my own creations,” shared Maya, “I have developed everything I have done through observing and following what I found interesting, essentially following my heart.”
Our Favorite Questions
What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
“No one is going to believe in you like you do. Figure out what your brand values and
messaging are, and stay true to them in everything you do. Embrace your passion and
surround yourself with like-minded women (and men).”
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
“I truly believe a piece of furniture comes along and changes everything around us. For
me, it can come from anywhere.”