Imagine a world where Swarovski crystals and cone studs are the only art medium of choice, and everything is adorable but badass at the same time. Welcome to the life of Sarah Joy Hood, the creative mastermind behind all that is glittery and rad at killer kawaii brand Mystic Mayhem. For as long as I’ve known Sarah, she’s always had a smile on her face and an outfit on that makes you want to go home, change, and try harder. Read on to get to know the purple-haired princess behind the DIY-inspired label that will take over the internet, one shiny embellishment at a time.
Tell me a little bit about you!
My name is Sarah Joy Hood, I grew up on the third coast (Screwston, baby) and am a graphic designer. I have an unhealthy addiction to cats and ice cream, and will probably have purple hair for the rest of my life.
How did you end up starting Mystic Mayhem?
I’ve never really fit in with any kind of clique or genre, I have such wide interests in all sorts of styles of music and fashion that ill go one day dressed like Baby Spice and then the next looking all kawaii goth. I’ve always been into hardcore/punk music and the crazy vests are a big part of the culture. I wanted to participate in that but give it my own twist to better match my style, so I started making vests that drew inspiration from all different kinds of music and fashions. I’d get a lot of compliments on them and friends asking me to make them one, so I opened the store.
What inspired the company name?
The name was seriously the hardest part, because the entire concept of the store is mixed styles and flavors, so its hard coming up with a name that embodies a little bit of everything. After coming up with dozens of failed ideas my friend Lorraine Tran came up with Mystic Mayhem on like the second try and I fell in love. I think it’s a perfect amount of spooky but girly, and ties in the femininity I’m trying to add to a semi masculine style of punk vests.
What inspires the pieces you make?
That’s a hard one because i get inspiration from so many places. Most of the time it’s me liking something but wanting to make it special and adding more detail and color. My favorite ideas come from lines in rap songs, finding a super girly or 90’s patch that matches it and going from there. I love the idea of making a punk vest, thats crazy girly pastel tie dyed, with some hood rap lyric in sequins on the back. A little bit of everything I love in one piece. Recently i’ve been inspired by Lisa Frank, anything aliens, tie dye, and top 40 rap like Drake and 2 Chainz.
A lot of your pieces are custom. How long does it usually take you, start to finish to make one of your amazing vests?
Ooof it takes a hot minute. Even if i was to work on a single vest 40 hours a week full time it would still take weeks to make. Of course it depends on what is on the vest, but bleaching or dyeing it takes a long time to make sure I get it the perfect color, then if they want a lot of spikes or studs that adds weeks to it. For example the hot pink lisa Frank vest i made with the multicolored and sizes neon scone studs took me about 60 hours just for those 3 small panels. Some vests I have that are completely covered in spikes have on average 800-1,500 spikes and I make each hole in the denim by hand with an awl, screw in each spike and go back with a screw driver and tighten each one individually. I end up with some gnarly bruises and cuts in the end but I wouldn’t have it another way.
What kind of music did you listen to as a yung teen etc? Did it influence your style/fashion/life etc?
Good god I went through some weird music and phases. I can safely say I had a lifelong relationship with Blink 182 since I was a youngin. I used to love No Doubt, Cake, Green Day Nirvana, your basic 90’s music for most of junior high. It wasn’t till I was maybe 15 when I started getting into hardcore music like Terror, Earth Crisis, and American Nightmare. Then after that I got super into Electronic music and was obsessed with Adult. and Miss Kitten.
I would say from all the random music I loved Gwen Stefani has absolutely been a lifelong inspiration. When I got braces I made my mom give me bangs because she had braces too and had the hot pink hair with the straight across bangs. I remember thinking “Hey! She has braces and flat boobs and is still awesome, hot, and a badass, so maybe I can be too!” I wore Dickies and white wifebeaters and even stenciled my name in old english on one like one of her music videos. She got me to start making DIY clothes and making boy clothes look girly, and probably the main inspiration behind me dyeing my hair crazy colors. GOD BLESS GWEN!!!
If you could design for any celebrity, alive or dead, who? Why?
Probably Haley Williams from Paramore. I love her style and she has the punk but still cute thing on lock. I think she would look really good in a vest and actually appreciate the wok that went into it, she seems like she gets DIY culture and all the handwork that it takes.
What would you like to start making next and what can we expect from MM in the future?
I’m working on making more smaller items that are more affordable for people like t-shirts and tote bags. I meet a lot of people who really love my stuff but just don’t have the guts to rock a crazy 15lb studded jacket to their 9-5 day job. So I want people to be able to get crazy in their own small way even if its just a small button set on their backpack or a cute tote bag for their laptop.
To check out Sarah’s designs, visit her site here. Also, Mystic Mayhem is sponsoring the next #TBT party this Thursday, so RSVP here for more info and to enter the giveaway for a Mystic Mayhem prize pack!
I too am the proud owner of a Mystic Mayhem vest, rockin’ this wolf pack on my back with “Twerk” and “Turnt Up” patches in metal-inspired font, because Sarah is my spirit animal and just GETS it. Customize with her today!
Photo courtesy of Nicky Digital