London Makers and Creators is a new series from LondonFuse, focusing on the talented artisans who make and sell their work throughout London and area.

Every Day is a Chance to Flourish 

Mikaila Stevens is an up-and-coming maker and artist in London, ON. She began creating under the name Flourish and Grow in 2019 and works out of City Rest, an arts hub in Old East Village.

A woman stands with her hands at her sides wearing a sweatshirt that says Flourish and Grow.
Mikaila Stevens models one of her Flourish and Grow sweaters. Image via Instagram @flourish.n.grow.

A multidisciplinary artist, Mikaila creates through a variety of mediums, including contemporary beadwork inspired by her Mi’kmaq background, screen printing, embroidery, and uniquely hand-dyed textiles. If you can catch one of her Etsy shop updates, you’ll find a range of apparel, jewelry, patches, and prints, including screen printed t-shirts and sweaters, embroidered beanies, and beaded earrings and patches.

A limited-edition tie-dye flower bud Flourish & Grow tee. Image via Facebook @flourishandgrowshop.

Mikaila’s work combines striking colour schemes and modern design using a mixture of current and traditional materials. Where else can you find gorgeously vibrant handcrafted beaded UFO earrings or a beautifully beaded patch of a flaming neon skull with gold teeth?

A collection of Flourish and Grow's beaded works including neon UFOs and skulls.
Flourish and Grow combines traditional beading with modern designs. Image via Facebook @flourishandgrowshop.

 So let’s get to know this talented London creative! 

What do you make?

Through my brand Flourish and Grow I make beaded jewelry, accessories, and short-run screen printed apparel. I hand-dye fabric with recycled water-based inks and use those scraps in a lot of my work as well! My whole brand is basically a mashup of all my creative
passions as they evolve and I continue to create.

How and when did you start creating?

I’ve been interested in art my whole life but have always had a hard time narrowing down exactly what kind of medium I wanted to pursue. I fell into screen printing and fell in love and that led me to embroidery and beadwork. Mixed with my background in textile design and seamstressing it was a perfect mix of all my favourite creative passions.

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Do you remember your first piece? What was it?

My first beaded piece was a monarch butterfly patch I have since attached to my favourite denim vest. Monarch butterflies are my family’s clan animal and hold a lot of meaning to me personally so I felt it was the perfect first step into beading.

What do you wish you had known when you first started making?

Not to focus on everything being perfect the first time. I still sometimes have to remind myself that nothing has to be perfect and that learning is part of the journey. It’s more important to learn from your mistakes than to focus on them and let them wear you down. Most people won’t even notice anyway!

How did you come up with your name for your business?

I started with a different name but it didn’t fit. I was working on a design and ‘Flourish and Grow’ sort of popped into my head and I used it for that design and didn’t think about it until I was trying to think of a new name and kept going back to that design and it seemed perfect for what I was trying to convey with my art and my business.

What or who inspires you?

I’m very inspired by nature and vibrant colour schemes. I love being outside especially around trees and water and have always gravitated towards naturally occurring vibrant colours. I love all kinds of flowers and plants and have always found that being in nature is better for my mental health than being in the city for too long. I bead a lot of flowers and use a lot of bright colours in my work and have found that I find myself most inspired when I’m able to be alone with the trees.

What’s your favourite item or piece to work on?

At the moment anything beaded is my favourite. I recently did a collection that included neon UFO earrings and those have quickly become one of my favourite things to make. It incorporates more contemporary design rather than flowers and nature, but still incorporates the vibrant colours I find most appealing to work with.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a maker?

I think having to put a price tag on your work and worrying about how people are going to perceive it, whether they think it’ll be too much or undervaluing yourself when you shouldn’t be. I think it’s an easy mistake to make in the beginning and still one I’m trying to figure out myself.

What’s your favourite London neighbourhood and why?

OEV! I work in a studio with a bunch of artists who are so supportive and willing to collaborate and help each other out. I think Old East Village definitely has a great heart and has so much creativity and passion for making that little neighbourhood the best for everyone there it’s hard to think of a neighbourhood I like more.

What’s your favourite “hidden gem” in London you think more people should know about?

My favourite hidden gem spots in London are probably any of the hidden wilderness areas that remind me why it’s called the Forest City. There are lots of cute forested areas that are fun to explore and make the city feel so far away. For someone like me that really appreciates their time outside in nature it always feels like a treat when I stumble onto a cute little forested area.

Where can people find your work?

I announce all my collection drops on my Instagram @flourish.n.grow where I post them on my shop at flourishandgrow.ca

What other London makers should Londoners check out?

I work in a studio called City Rest in Old East Village. All the artists that work inside that space inspire me every day with the way they think, their passion for their work, and their drive to be able to overcome obstacles.

Rezonance Printing, Hannan Fayad Glass, Antler River Press, and Soft Flirt as well as the numerous talented musicians working in the studio in the back creating amazing music for us to listen to while we work.

Connect with Flourish and Grow

Feature photo courtesy of Flourish and Grow.

Are you or do you know a London maker we should be highlighting? If so, let us know in the comments below or email info@londonfuse.ca to be featured in this series.

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