Local handmade tie company, Fly At Risk


The streets are quieter.

The darkness of the night takes over the skies earlier.

The last of discarded food wrappers and donut bags have been swept up at the Fair at the PNE.

There is no denying it: summer is over.  And with this most unwelcome time of year comes the absolute despondency that is going back to school.  We all know the feeling, the dread really, of sitting in uncomfortable chairs for hours trying to learn something that we’re quite sure won’t come up again (and if it does, well then…’sup, Google).  Characteristics of fungi?  Calculating compound interest?  Is that not what The Discovery Channel and banks are for?

Nevertheless, the point of my writing is entirely the opposite of where you think this is probably going (and no, I am certainly not here to express resentment at my biology and maths teachers, wherever you are; but you should know that I haven’t really had to turn my mind to the intricate details of fungi, save for their price per pound and how much I want on my pizza and thus in my belly and there exist online calculators to help figure out interest issues – so there.  Real motherflippin’ talk).  The point is that beyond the tyranny of someone lecturing at your face for hours and the acute stress of final exams, school is pretty good at spitting out creative folks who are eager in entrepreneurial pursuit and, even better for the rest of us, sure about keeping their ventures (pretty, whimsical, and) local.

Take Cheralyn Chok, of Fly At Risk for example.  Cheralyn is a third-year commerce student at UBC who (let’s take it back) at the age of four helped thread needles for her seamstress grandmother and ever since then, aspired to combine her flair for textile design with the technical skills acquired in business school to set up her own shop.  In Cheralyn’s first year of university, she had already made a few bowties – the first adorned by her grade 12 prom date – and was looking to make her mark in the men’s tie market.  Using different fabrics and textiles made by local designers, what followed were gorgeous handmade ties fit for every occasion.

Photo: Farhad Ghaderi

Fly At Risk ties are not on the straight and narrow, but boast way cool floral prints, polka dots, and plaid patterns.  Herein lies the beautiful irony of these ties: they don’t look or feel like your grandpa just found a box of his severely outdated pocket squares and trench coats in the dingy ol’ attic, however Cheralyn’s dealings evoke methods from probably around just that time, that is, the old school when people did business in person and tried to keep money in the community.  “I made a handful for my very first market at the Eastside Flea at UBC in the spring of 2014.  I was so happy that the ties sold well and was inspired to start approaching some local shops about carrying my ties, a goal that originally I had set for five years down the road.”  Sure enough, Cheralyn’s ties have found homes in cozy stores about town, including The Hunter & Hare (334 West Pender Street) and WALRUS (3408 Cambie Street) in Vancouver and The Handpicked Home (1406 Johnston Road) in White Rock.

Cheralyn talks about the stores that sell her goods as fun, unusual, and tailored to the seasons, which serves well as a reflection of her ties, specifically and her demeanour, generally.  When asked about Fly At Risk, named after a mistakenly heard line of Taylor Swift’s jam, “Mine”, Cheralyn laughs with an air of quirky confidence, “She sings the words, “flight risk,” and for some reason I thought she was saying, ‘fly at risk’.  I always thought it was a funny phrase.  When I was in high school, I’d post albums on Facebook of all the items that I had sewn or knit and they were all under the “Fly At Risk” title.  From then on the name stuck…and here we are today!”


If you need a tie that will make your black or blue suit bang, then go get a Fly At Risk tie, about which the underlying premise is dedication to one’s craft and investment in all things homemade (of note is the fact that upon request, Cheralyn also does custom sets for weddings and other of life’s milestone events).  Moreover, go pick Cheralyn’s brain on September 26, 2015 at Etsy Vancouver for a day of pop-up markets held at Robson Square.  You’ll get all the good feels of shopping local and perhaps more importantly, of an inspired good news story in September about someone’s application of those often forgotten subjects taught in school.

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