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.

Handmade Tenderly in the Forest City

Alayna Hryclik, better known as Soft Flirt, is a popular maker in London, ON. Most certainly, she’s become a must-see at local craft markets. After graduating from Western University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program, Alayna started her business by selling at local craft markets and fairs before becoming a full-time entrepreneur.

A woman with shoulder-length brown haird smiles in front of a white wall. She is wearing a white shirt and her hands are behind her back.
Alyana Hryclik, the artist behind Soft Flirt, has made a full-time business out of making softness in the forest city. Image via Facebook @softflirt.

In just four and a half short years, she’s built a much-loved brand. She creates a wide range of soft items, including t-shirts, sweaters, banners, pins, stickers, felt flowers, pillows, patches, totes, keychains, pennants, ornaments, cards, and even baby onesies. 

Two women smile in front of a pink wall. One woman in sunglasses is on the back of another woman. Both are wearing Soft Flirt tshirts.
Soft Flirt has become known for beautifully designed t-shirts with charming sayings, like the “let people enjoy things” shirt seen here. Image via Facebook @softflirt.

As if that large repertoire of items isn’t enough, she’s also known for making some killer playlists and gorgeous public art. Last year, alongside Jessica Thornton from Spanky Jay Signs, Alayna created a vibrant mural on the side of Hamilton Road’s Neighbourhood Laundromat Café.

And aside from being an artist and creator herself, Alayna is also a big champion of arts in London. She currently sits on the Forest City Gallery’s board as their Technical Director. 

The side of a building is painted with vivd pinks, reds, and oranges with leaves and says "Explore the Forest"
This eye-catching mural on the side of Hamilton Road’s Neighbourhood Laundromat Café was completed in fall 2020 by the artists behind Soft Flirt and Spanky Jay Designs. Photo courtesy of @rachlong_ via London Tourism.

So let’s get to know this forest city sweetheart!

What do you make?

Softly designed screen-printed apparel, sewn home decor goods & fun collectable accessories designed with a tender touch.

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How and when did you start creating?

Long story short — forever ago, but intentionally with softness — it’s been 4.5 years.

Do you remember your first piece? What was it?

One of the first pieces just before launching soft flirt was a banner that said “man-eater”, which just so happened to be a collab with Paterson Hodgson made for Rag Bag Bazaar!

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

Not to let imposter syndrome hold you back from trying — everyone struggles with comparing their art to others, but just because someone else has more experience or is more skilled doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn that new medium or try that new skill.

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

The origin of soft flirt is an inside-joke-turned-nickname, and I decided it would make a pretty good name for a business too.

What or who inspires you?

Friends, community and other creatives. I do my best thinking surrounded by like-minded folks.

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

Banners will always be one of my favourite staple soft flirt items, but lately, my design process has been filling me with the most joy, turning doodles and scribbles into artwork for others never gets old.

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

Motivation and willpower are fickle friends. It can be really difficult to stay accountable to your schedule or even your goals as a maker. I tend to lose focus when my mental health is fading, so being mindful of that so I can stay productive is important.

What’s your favourite London neighbourhood and why?

That’s a tough one. I love the calm of Woodfield, but there’s something really neighbourly about OEV that draws me in.

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

I’m obsessed with flowers and I’m anxiously awaiting another summer of seeing sunroom bloom’s amazing garden-grown bouquets filling my Instagram feed. I highly recommend you follow @sunroomblooms to see her stunning florals. #notsponsored at all, I’m just obsessed.

Where can people find your work?

Currently, I exist entirely online! you can find me most easily on Instagram, or shop online in my Etsy shop (brand new website coming this spring) and I’m looking forward to building a new retail space and studio where you’ll be able to visit in person later this year!

What other London makers should Londoners check out?

I miss pop-up shows and vendor markets because I would just tell you to head to a Punk Rock Flea Market, Boho Bazaar, or Merry Makers Fair and you’d come away with a list of new favourites. But since we are currently living without events my best suggestion to find new faves is to follow artists you like in London and see who they are sharing! We have such a supportive network of makers who are constantly hyping each other up online or in person.

Connect with Soft Flirt 

Feature photo courtesy of Soft Flirt.

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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