Mariya Dykalo, creative director of luxury leather goods brand Aspinal

Mariya lives in Sussex with her husband Iain and their son Jack, seven.


Mariya shares her design secrets

I loved to draw and paint as a child, and now do all the designs and technical drawings for Aspinal’s handbags by hand after Jack has gone to bed.


I’ve designed clothes since the age of 13 and studied art and design in the Ukraine, where I grew up, before moving to England to try to make it as a fashion designer nine years ago. My friends gave me this book as a leaving gift.


I got my British passport and became a British citizen last year. The Ukraine will always be home, but it’s an honour to call England my second home.


Iain has a great eye for gifts and jewellery. He gave me this exquisite necklace for my 30th birthday. I think the mixture of silver and gold is so chic – I wear it all the time.


Christmases in the Ukraine were so much fun. My brother Bogdan and I would wear traditional dress to visit Santa Claus. As it was a Communist country at that time, all the children wore the same clothes and were given the same presents. I’m five in this photo and Bogdan is four.


We have a 300-year-old weeping beech tree in our garden – we’re told it’s one of the biggest in England. When you’re underneath it, you feel cut off from the world – it’s quite magical.


We commissioned this photographic portrait of Jack when he was five and it hangs in our bedroom. Living in the country is a little boy’s dream – he’s always climbing trees and running through fields.


Jack kept asking for a brother or sister so we got him a dog! Daisy, a miniature schnauzer, is a little bundle of energy and a complete joy. I’m now pregnant so Jack will soon have a little brother or sister as well as a dog!


I worked my way up from intern to creative director at Aspinal. This Marylebone tote is my baby. I designed and conceived it and carry the monochrome version everywhere.