Most people go to business school to learn how to run a business, but this week, we sat down with a second-year UBC Commerce student who founded her own brand of ties to get a head start before she even enters the Entrepreneurship program. Cheralyn Chok, the woman behind Fly at Risk is a go-getter and kindred spirit, and we are excited to be feature a local creator that’s bringing it back to artisan goods! Make sure you keep reading till the end to find out how to win one of her beautiful, handmade ties.
MTI: Tell me about yourself and Fly at Risk.
C: I started sewing when I was 5. My grandma was a seamstress as her living, and my grandpa was a carpenter on my mom’s side. That’s where I got my creative abilities from. In high school I wanted to go to design school, but my parents are both accountants and they were like, “You should go to business school!” So I did, and I wanted to do something different, so in December 2013, I started Fly At Risk. At first it was bowties, hair bows, and custom gifts for people that I would get commissioned to do. And then when I did Eastside Flea Market in April 2014, I decided to start making ties, because I felt there was a gap in the market. I made some ties and sold them there, and they did really, really well. Surprisingly well. After that, I went on a trip to Europe, and when I came back, I was really inspired to start selling in more places, probably just markets. I made some goals for myself: 1-, 5-, and 10-year goals. My 5-year goals included selling in-stores. So I thought, “Ok, there’s no harm in going to different shops.” And then in May 2014, I was selling in 2 stores within 2 days. And it was so overwhelming, because I wasn’t prepared for things to happen that quickly. I started selling in Meadow, and Hunter & Hare, and I’m still selling in Hunter & Hare still. It’s been really great getting the opportunity to sell there.
MTI: What would you say are the core values of the brand?
C: I definitely stress handmade. My slogan is “Handmade with love.” I think it’s really important to keep in mind details. When I’m making ties, I try to use different fabrics and be mindful of the line – things that only the person wearing it would notice. It’s important to think about the tiny details that matter and make a product even more special to someone. I also try to stick as local as possible. I make everything myself right now, but hopefully, I’ll start outsourcing labor soon, but I want to keep it within Vancouver, so I can keep control in how it’s being made and that it’s being made with the best quality.
MTI: Where do you find inspiration for your ties?
C: I do a lot of florals. I really like black and white prints right now. Some plaids. Pretty much anything I would want my boyfriend would wear. I like to look at different magazines for magazines for inspiration, like Frankie Magazine from Australia.
MTI: What would you say differentiates your ties from what’s out there on the market?
C: Definitely the lower price helps. My ties sell retail for $40. Also, making custom ties is something that not a lot of people do. I sew for graduations or weddings, and I’ve been getting a lot of requests for groomsmen parties. I make sure people get exactly what they want when they get custom ties down to the lining. I definitely don’t see a ton of floral prints. There’s a lot of plain linens, wool ties, but not a lot of prints.
MTI: What would you give as advice for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur?
C: Definitely take risks. If I didn’t put myself out there in the beginning, I wouldn’t be selling in stores. Also, just remain true to what you want and know what you’re standing for at the very beginning, so whatever’s thrown your way, you’ll know how to react based on what you would want to happen from the start. Write it all out. Make some goals for yourself, even if you don’t think they’ll be achievable. It’s just nice to have something tangible to look forward to. And network. Talk to a lot of people. Promote your brand. But don’t be rude about it. Be confident, but stay humble.
Enter to Win a Tie from Fly at Risk
*Giveaway for anyone in Vancouver, BC (Lower Mainland)*
Photography by: Rebekah Ho