Today a big topic on “knitting Twitter” or at least the social media that top my feeds has been a video from Ecomcrew a pair of North American ecommerce gurus where they explain why they have bought the domain Knitting.com
It seems that the pair see the knitting sector as somewhere ripe for their expertise and where they can build a “seven figure business”. So far, so good you might say – we are all keen on increasing interest in and access to knitting and other yarn crafts.
Watch the full 40min video here if you want to know all the details so far.
Unfortunately, this first introduction of Mike and Dave to the yarnie community has not gone well.
The video episode about why they have acquired Knitting.com is aimed at their business community following and their aim is to use their knitting business as a teaching tool for their activities in that arena as much as building a successful brand.
However, it seems to me that two people who clearly put a lot of stock in great content could have managed to produce something that explained their reasons for developing the brand without simultaneously belittling and insulting the potential customer base.
Perhaps they didn’t expect knitters to come across their blog and podcast because we have no interest in business, which in itself suggests some ignorance about the knitting audience. Lots of vocal yarn crafters are also running their own business and are keen to learn.
Among the statements made in their video and blog post are:
- That as straight men nobody would expect them to take on a knitting business
- That there are less than 10 big brands producing good content and the rest is granny bloggers. (Yep, only grannies and gay men knit)
- And the surprising announcement that Amazon is not the go to place for knitters to buy their supplies.
- They also tell us that their plan is to have great patterns that will attract people to buy their products - this isn't exactly innovative in the yarn sector.
Unsurprisingly the use of stereotypes has raised a lot of hackles but there is more to object to here and not just for knitters, the followers of these business gurus are being short-changed too.
This smacks of abysmal research and perhaps only a cursory glance at the market which they assume to be exactly like others they have had businesses in. There was certainly no mention of how community is a key aspect in this market.
It is very frustrating. If these two people had come along and shown they have really looked at the market and then said we think we have knowledge from elsewhere that we think can build something new or better and we’ll be engaging the community, they would have received much better feedback.
Of course, it may be that this is a clever ploy for their business guru content as over coming months they reveal that their initial stereotyping and assumptions were wrong and how they adapted their model accordingly – that would be great.
But responding to knitters initial reaction by describing us as “passionate and protective” isn’t a good start.
I will be following the blog and the podcast to see what happens – as well as being a knitwear designer and content creator (but not a granny), I also happen to have a business journalism background that involved writing for would-be tech entrepreneurs back when that really was innovative.
UPDATE 25 FEB 2022
The video and the version of the blog post I was referring to have now disappeared and a post talking about learning from the knitting community has appeared in its place.
It contains the admission that "The knitting community is clearly strong – far stronger than I would have imagined just a couple of days ago!" I refer you back to my point above - researching your market is important and it is a good idea before you start talking about it.