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Launching a business just before the world locked down in response to COVID-19 could have had potentially disastrous consequences. Thankfully for Megan Elizabeth and her knitting pattern generator app, Bellish, the increased time spent at home worked in her favour.
Bellish allows you to design a custom sweater and generates the knitting pattern in minutes. You can choose your pattern base, silhouette, size and embellishments to create a completely original sweater just for you. Once you have your pattern, the app will also guide you through how to knit together your new jumper.
Elizabeth launched the app in February and was surprised by how quickly it gained popularity.
“We’ve definitely seen more early growth than we were expecting, with over 63,000 users joining Bellish since we launched,” Elizabeth told TheLatch—. “It’s been especially popular with new knitters — I think that shows how many people were looking for a mindful activity while at home.”
In nearly four months, there have been over 130,000 patterns designed by users, despite it still being early days for Bellish.
“It’s amazing to see how much value they’re getting from Bellish, even though we don’t have a full pattern range in the app yet,” Elizabeth said. “I think a part of this is the joy in the process — it’s fun to create a pattern and it only takes a few minutes.”
We spoke to Megan Elizabeth about everything from her love of knitting to the inspiration behind a knitting app and why this hobby is making a comeback.
TheLatch— Tell me about the story of Bellish and what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Megan Elizabeth: I’ve always been a knitter. My mum taught me, and my grandma and aunty. The first thing I knitted was a tiny hot pink scarf for my teddy. I’ve always had fun ideas of things to knit but lacked the skills to write the pattern.
One of the frustrations I had was being able to find the exact pattern I wanted to make, and visualise it in the yarn colours I wanted to use. I believed there should be an easy way to design a pattern, so people can knit exactly what they want. We started working on Bellish about a year ago and released our new app in February this year.
Our users are what gets me out of bed! They’re producing content at an incredible rate right now, with over 130,000 designs created since February. I know a lot of people are finding solace in creating at the moment, and we need to keep producing pattern options to help fuel all that creativity.
“One of the frustrations I had was being able to find the exact pattern I wanted to make, and visualise it in the yarn colours I wanted to use.”
TL: How has your business been affected by COVID-19 since its launch?
ME: We released Bellish mid-February, just before the world started to go into lockdown. We’ve definitely seen more early growth than we were expecting, with over 63,000 users joining Bellish since we launched. It’s been especially popular with new knitters — I think that shows how many people were looking for a mindful activity while at home.
TL: Have you seen an increase in engagement since everyone has more time for hobbies? How does this make you feel?
ME: People are designing so many patterns. It’s amazing to see how much value they’re getting from Bellish, even though we don’t have a full pattern range in the app yet. I think a part of this is the joy in the process — it’s fun to create a pattern and it only takes a few minutes.
And you get a good dose of creative satisfaction! We have also been really pleased to discover that many people are knitting with the Bellish app as a tool for mindfulness and meditation. It’s hard to get stuck mindlessly scrolling when both hands have knitting needles in them and your phone screen is the knitting instructions!
I’m excited for where we can take Bellish as a product. I really enjoy my work and it’s exciting that I get to keep building a product to support peoples’ creative process.
“We have also been really pleased to discover that many people are knitting with the Bellish app as a tool for mindfulness and meditation.”
TL: How can people support your business right now and in the future?
ME: Being a free app, we’d really just love users to download and enjoy it; design something for yourself and make the most of our knitting tips and tricks by subscribing to our newsletter.
Another thing you can do is share your Bellish knitting designs with friends and family — we’ve found that getting support and feedback can be very motivating for first-timers to get going on their project.
TL: How do you think your business, or the industry in general, will evolve from here? Will this change how you operate?
ME: Fortunately for us, we haven’t had to change much in how we operate. As a team, we all worked remotely, even before COVID-19. We’re focused on producing more pattern content as quickly as we can, as this is the biggest thing our users are asking for.
Knitting and crafting was already a growth industry prior to the pandemic, with many younger people taking it up as a mindfulness activity over the past few years. I think we will continue to see a shift towards e-commerce and tech-enabled businesses in this space, which was already happening but has only been accelerated over the past few months.
“I think we will continue to see a shift towards e-commerce and tech-enabled businesses.”
TL: What would you like to tell someone about taking up knitting now and continuing the hobby long after COVID goes away?
ME: Knitting is a wonderful pastime. Meditative, productive, creative. It’s the perfect stay-at-home hobby, and a lot of people who knit find comfort in their craft during times of stress. Fair warning though, it’s also pretty addictive. Once you finish your first scarf or beanie and you wear it and love it, you quickly start thinking of what you could create next!
Create your perfect sweater pattern with Bellish and get knitting!