Only thing I enjoy more than embracing my nerdy-ness is showing off my fandoms with pride!  Made completely possible through adorable specialty shops online, I had always wondered what makes someone decide that they are going to start creating items based off of something they love and why can’t I seem to build up some of that motivation?  I got the answer to the first part….still searching for the second.  Suppose it takes a special person!  Luckily Miss Mariyam of Oh Panda Eyes broke down what inspired her to start her shop and why she continues with it a year later.  Gracious enough to grant me this interview, I am always excited to see new merchandise she has online!  Looking for something to give a multi fandom friend in your life?  Look no further!  Oh Panda Eyes has got you covered.

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Okay so you are kind of a jack of all trades! You write, you read, you make jewelry, you’re an entrapanuer ,what was your major in university?

I majored in a Bachelors of Science in Sociology & Communications at Brunel University.

What inspired you to start creating jewelry and about your favorite fandom/book series?

Funnily the inspiration from the shop coincided with The Mortal Instruments series, I had seen a beautiful stamped bangle on Etsy, but the seller didn’t ship to the UK. I got the courage one night to ask her if I paid extra could you ship to London, unbeknown to me she’d become one of the bestest friends I could ever ask for and the first person I skyped, or added, that I hadn’t met! Literally we would talk all the time an one day she said to me I should start a little shop myself and she would help me (which she did like crazy), we joked about names and my choice phrase of “Oh my gosh Shelby look at my panda eyes” seemed to be our favourite. It was especially crazy since she’s in Maryland and I’m in the UK so we’d have to stay up late or wake up extra early to talk! So yep Shelby was one of my biggest inspirations and our love of nerdiness helped too!  Her store is amazing too!

 

Is it safe to say that young adult fiction is your favorite? If so, what is about YA that speaks to people well beyond their young adult years? Young adult stuff seems to be devoured by both kids and adults not to mention the success of many film franchises based on the books.

 

The name “Oh Panda Eyes” is so cute, where did it come from?

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Image by Ebonni

It’s quite funny, I have huge anime eyes or so everyone tells me and when I wear mascara or eyeliner I tend to rub it when I’m really tired and thus I get panda eyes. I wanted the shop name to be fun, because the jewellery is fun, they’re based on books and movies so it was never going to be expensive or in your face so I didn’t want to go down a generic name.

I see your posts about going to London Comic Con and touring Harry Potter Studio Tour *so jealous *, how has living in a city like London influenced your drive? Or even influenced your passions?

London is great, I’m so proud to live in such an amazingly diverse city, par the scenery and epic talent that derives from here, London is so multicultural. There are people from all sorts of cultures, religions and we all rub along together. It’s a driven city, there’s always something awesome going on, from book trails to exhibitions or like the largest pillow fight in Trafalgar Square (lots of feathers more like) and it makes you want to do well. To be noticed in any way in London is a big feat though, with it being such a large city you have to work hard and not take anything for granted.

You have some Disney items as well! Is that another love of yours? Favorite princess/favorite film?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

My favourite princess was always Belle, she was everything that I wanted to be when I was a little girl, not the damsel in distress, but the fiery book nerd who loved because of love not because of the prince charming. My favourite Disney movie was The Black Cauldron, although now it ever changes depending on my mood as I get older.

 

Why is important for not only you but for everyone to embrace their childlike youth and wonder?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

I sometimes get told that I should ‘grow up, I’m not a little girl anymore’, this usually brings out my inner Peter Pan, youth and wonder is the only way you can forget the day to day stresses that come with life. We tend to forgot how much bad is going on in the world just by embracing a little silliness. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s just as important to know what is happening around the world, you shouldn’t be ignorant to suffering and anguish, but in the same breadth you should remember to live your life to the fullest! If you can manage to do this juxtaposed with helping others than what more can you ask for. Sometimes I think back to a film I watched as a child, it was called ‘Fairytale: A true story’ and what a character says… “Grown ups don’t know how to believe.” For me, if I became that sort of grown up then I may as well give up now.

What is your favorite piece that you have created?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

My first ever piece is my favourite, ‘The Clockwork Angel’ it was the first piece that I was really able to make my own, it’s not copied or inspired by anyone else’s work. Literally ‘The Clockwork Angel’ and each of the cogs were engineered from my head, extremely time consuming but still one of the most prettiest, dainty little necklaces I made. Now I do love making cabochons with quotes, the funnest one I made for London Comic Con was Hermione’s… ‘Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.

Favorite custom piece you have created?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

My favourite custom piece was for a young lady in Washington, it was only a little bit customised but it made it so much more fun for me. She had ordered a Mortal Instruments charm bracelet and we had this yellow duck charm as the main piece. Anyone that’s read the books knows the significance of it, which was quite funny, though she instead wanted a different funny scene from the book portrayed in her charm bracelet, so I had to source a pineapple charm, that was tonnes of fun! And adding Hufflepuff yellow beads to her Harry Potter charm bracelet just made it pop and she loved them!

I’ve always wondered, to get those book quote necklaces do you just print them off and cut them up or are they from the book?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

 

Cut up books!! No that is sacrilegious! LOL I just copy the quote I like and play around with fonts and cut them out, it means I don’t go around destroying books!

You write for the site Pagetopremiere.com, have they helped with your business at all, I mean in terms of reading series/watching films you otherwise would not have? How long does it take on average to make a piece of jewelry?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

Page to Premiere has helped a lot, the team are pretty tight knit which means we all became friends quite quickly even outside the ‘writing’ side of the job. We can recommend books, TV series and films to one another. For me it’s sometimes vital because I can focus on a series that is doing really well. At London Comic Con this year we had so many Dr Who fans but in honesty I haven’t seen it (I know, I know, bad Mariyam) it helped know what part of the show people loved the most.

Best gift you have ever received?

My awesomely nerdy boyfriend bought me a scarf and gloves for Christmas, but they weren’t any old Winter warmers. The snood scarf had a verse of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ going around it and the gloves ”Jane Eyre’, still my most favourite gift ever!

Dream collaboration?

My dream collaboration would be on a movie set, based on a book I loved! To make jewellery for the characters would be beyond epic! Even now, I try and tweet authors after I’ve made a piece to celebrate their book, not because I hope they retweet or even acknowledge me, but because if something I created made another artist create something based on it, I’d love to see it!

What will be the first chapter book you hope your future children/nieces/random child you meet and love will read?

This one is probably harder than any of the questions but in all honesty I’d like it to be the first chapter book I read, which was ‘Oliver Twist’, Charles Dickens novels are amazing and Oliver Twist in particular teaches you so much and still manages to encapsulate so much fun through the Artful Dodger. After that’d it’d have to be ‘James and the Giant Peach’ because I totally adore Roald Dahl, but who doesn’t!

Harry, Hermione, Ron, who do you spend time on a desert island with?

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Image courtesy of Oh Panda Eyes

So I was torn between Hermione and Ron (Me and Harry just wouldn’t gel right) but I think a desert island with Hermione might not go so well since we’re both ‘insufferable know it all’s’. So I’ll go with Mr Weasley, since at least if I annoy him when I’m hungry he’ll be sure to ‘come back’.

Okay, speed round!

Favorite book series: There are so many and they all are my favourites for usually being the perfect escape during what was a tumultuous time in my life.  I would have to say other than Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, has been one of my favourite book series. The complicated romance and fantasy themed plot line was epic and even individual characters, though there were many, were just right! I particularly loved the character of Jace, there was something about him that resonated with me, a confidence that actually hid a pretty scared, lonely boy, well that’s how I read him. His stubbornness always made smile, maybe he reminds me of me sometimes.

Best author: I haven’t got one best author, I know that probably sucks in terms of answering a quick fire round but I am so privilidged to grow up in an era that has some wonderful female writers and female characters that are strong, but still sensitive rather than the typical ‘damsels in distress’.

Besides your own, top 3 etsy shops:

Strangely Yours– Beautiful wooden jewellery

Storiarts– Epic nerdy scarfs and gloves!

Tweak and Twist– Amazing photographer!

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Etsy

Instagram

Twitter

Kitty Shout Out When Oh Panda Eyes was first starting out, my baby of 14 years, Sheba was an awesome mascot, she would sit and watch me make things, never touching anything but always taking an interest in what her mama was doing! Unfortunately this year we lost her to bowel Cancer and for ages I didn’t want to open the store again because she was my best friend, even now sometimes I think that a lot has changed since she’s gone but I remember that she wouldn’t want me to give up. A few months after she passed away we adopted Mr Loki who is a complete tearaway and a chubby one at that! He hardly ever lets me make things in peace, he’ll be grabbing a necklace or pushing a charm off the sofa and then he gives me that look like ‘It wasn’t me ma.’

Aww, I love that! I’m sure Sheba is beyond proud! <3

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November 10, 2014