Insight: Building DMY BY DMY in a Post-Graduate World

From studying History to building a celebrity loved, global eyewear brand. This is the story of how DMY BY DMY came to be in the words of Demi Mae Yip, Founder of DMY BY DMY.

Insight: Building DMY BY DMY in a Post-Graduate World - DMY BY DMY

Featuring Demi Mae Yip (@dmyxxx) in the Valentina (Black)

What were you doing before you began working on DMY BY DMY?

Before DMY BY DMY, I was studying History at King's College London for 3 years.


Can you walk us through the early journey of DMY. How did it all begin? 

I graduated from university in June 2017 and was immediately confronted with the question of "What Next?" I researched a plethora of graduate schemes (and definitely failed my fair share of aptitude tests) but throughout that entire process, I never really felt like that was the direction for me. At the start of 2018, I began to think about building my own product-centric brand and when I began researching the world of eyewear, the rest was history!


Why sunglasses?

Whenever I walked into Selfridges, Harvey Nics or any other department store, I always felt that I was confronted by a wall of eyewear that felt visually very similar and trend driven. Not only that, but I also couldn't understand why all of the prices were upwards of £300 a pair? Having done my research, I soon learned that the majority of the eyewear market was dominated by a few large key players. Independent brands had begun to emerge in an attempt to combat the inflated prices and illusion of choice, however, I couldn't find anyone creating designs that aligned with my own personal style so I saw an opportunity.


How did you go about creating your first collection?

Before DMY, I had very little knowledge about the world of eyewear so from the very outset, I had to carry out major in-depth research into all areas of the industry (which is great because I could actually put my History degree to work). Answers to questions like ‘What was the best material to manufacture premium eyewear from?’ and ‘Where was the best place to manufacture sunglasses?’ were all unbeknown to me at the time so I had to spend a lot of time delving into all of the deep, dark corners of Google to educate myself from the ground up. 

Once I'd settled on Mazzucchelli acetate as the core material for premium frames, my sister and I went to an eyewear exhibition in Milan to try and source a manufacturer. Being the youngest people there, we felt completely out of our depth but it was one of the most critical steps in the early days of building DMY BY DMY because it helped us find a great partner who we still work very closely with today.

Once we secured a manufacturer, I began working on the initial designs. I was never technically trained to be an eyewear designer. I am certainly not an engineer and I had never been exposed to any form of product development before so again, the evolution of how a frame came to be - from concept to sample - was unbeknown to me at the time. But if there's one thing to take away from this, it's that you can learn. I did a History degree and now, I spend my days 3D modelling eyewear, playing with acetate swatches and picking apart prototypes that have been months in the making.


What inspires the nature of the collection?

I've always had a deep rooted appreciation for the fashion of yesteryear's women. Mariah Carey, Jennifer Aniston, Winona Ryder - they were all iconic muses of the 90s and I just loved the underlying simplicity of their style. When I began thinking about the essence of our initial collection, I knew that I wanted the frames to pay homage to classic silhouettes and I believe that it's this nostalgic element that has given the collection its success. We're not creating seasonal, on-trend pieces based on momentary relevance. Instead, we focus solely on creating sunglasses that will stand the test of time becoming capsule accessories for the modern human.


Do you think you’d ever want to branch out and design shoes/bags/ clothes?

Absolutely! Watch this space.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I usually wake up at around 06:30am (which believe me is a struggle as I'm not a morning person), head to the gym (again, a struggle) followed by the local coffee shop with my boyfriend. We walk our little pug and then I cycle to work. At the studio, the team and I debrief on the day before, run through all of the targets for the week and jump on calls with our press and marketing teams. I've recently taken a step back from handling day to day activities, so most of my day is spent focusing on business development and design (which is where my passion really lies). My evenings usually involve an episode of The Morning Show or Ted Lasso and what feels like a much-needed glass of Rioja.


What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?

To be resilient and responsive to your surroundings. There were days when we weren't selling, nobody was responding to my emails and it was super difficult to stay positive in what felt like a time where I was constantly walking through mud. But I've learnt that you have to maintain a positive outlook (especially as your team starts to grow and you have people that are depending on you) and to focus on the future, not the now. When you start your own business, there’s no guidebook telling you how to do things or when to do them. You’re learning everything on the go for the first time, so it’s inevitable that there will be certain oversights but as long as you strive to find practical solutions when unexpected obstacles come your way, then that's what counts.


Demi's Round of Speed Dating with DMY

1. What is your go-to drink?
Day: Americano Night: Picantes to start and Cafe Patrón to finish

2. What was the last thing you Googled?
Christmas wreaths (I’m trying to be organised this year!)

3. What was the last book you read?
The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York

5. What is your favourite TV show?
The Queen’s Gambit and The Expanse are two of the best shows that I’ve watched this year but Gossip Girl definitely holds a special place in my heart

6. What would be your ideal date?

Seafood linguine on the Amalfi Coast 

7. What’s your guilty pleasure?

At the minute, Ferrero Rocher

8. What’s the best and worst purchase you’ve ever made?
Best: My pug suffers from rear limb paraylsis so we bought him a wheelchair and it really has revolutionised his life
Worst: A black leather dog collar for Benjamin (I hadn't noticed that it was covered in studs so it was a little too kinky for him)

9. What was your first concert?
Mariah Carey

10. Make a party playlist with 3 songs:
- Dua Lipa and Elton John 'Cold Heart'
- Dua Lipa 'IDGAF'
- Mariah Carey 'Heartbreaker'