A best friend duo have turned their lockdown knitting hobby into a lucrative business selling DIY knitting kits.
Morgan Collins, 35, and Cat Bloxsom, 33, have sold more than 2.8 million meters of yarn – enough to circle the MCG almost 6000 times – and made $1 million in the first 18 months of operation.
The couple, both from Melbourne, said they fell in love with knitting after teaching themselves the skill and boasted their creations to each other over FaceTime amid the 2020 global pandemic.
They turned their newfound passion into Cardigan almost two years ago as a ‘side hustle’ selling knitting kits with balls of high quality merino wool, easy to follow instructions, a ‘made by me’ label, needles and a tote bag.
The duo have revealed to Daily Mail Australia how, after meeting while working in the insurance marketing industry, they hit it off straight away due to their similar interests, values and ‘haircuts’ before deciding to go into business together.
Morgan Collins (left) and Cat Bloxsom (right) fell in love with knitting during Melbourne’s Covid-19 lockdowns and turned it into a million-dollar business in less than two years
The best friends would share their knitting progress via video chat, and soon the “pretty cool knits” they were wearing started getting attention from family and friends
“As Melbourne went into lockdown in 2020, we were looking for a creative outlet that would keep us connected but also help keep our hands busy and minds at ease,” Morgan said.
‘We liked the idea of having something portable that we had made ourselves. Neither of us had knitted before but we were keen to dive in and so with the help of YouTube we taught ourselves and discovered how easy it was to master.’
The ‘pretty cool knits’ they put on soon started getting attention from family and friends, giving them the idea to turn their hobby into a lucrative business.
“After fumbling through learning on our own, we wanted to create kits that would give beginner knitters the confidence to make something they would wear with pride,” said Cat.
The friends started Cardigang, which helps customers create stylish and customizable woolen cardigans, tops, vests, sweaters, beanies or scarves in ‘dopamine-inducing’ colors, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they are with knitting.
The friends started Cardigang as a ‘side hustle’ selling knitting kits for customers to make stylish woolen cardigans, sweaters, beanies or scarves in ‘dopamine-inducing’ colors regardless of their knitting skill level
The knitted kits include balls of high quality merino wool, easy to follow instructions, a ‘made by me’ tag, pins and a tote bag
“We found that learning to knit was like learning to code or another language, but once you overcome the confusing nature of knitting patterns, it’s actually not a difficult skill to master,” Morgan said.
‘Our set puts total focus on the beginner. We ditched the jargon and acronyms and have written patterns that are much easier to understand. We’ve created our own tutorials and we’re there along the way to support customers if they get stuck,’ added Cat.
They started the business venture ‘conservatively’, ordering just 40 kilos of wool and saying they would be ‘delighted’ if they sold that amount within six months.
Morgan said their first year of the business was a ‘roller coaster’ and they were constantly selling out due to the increasing popularity of knitting with people stuck at home, as well as supply chain and staffing issues that arose as the world went in and out of shutdown.
“But we could see early on that this was a business that had huge potential. As marketers, we spent a lot of time developing our business plan and our brand before we launched, and that set us up well,” said she.
“Looking down during our second winter, we knew that if we wanted to maximize the opportunity we had with Cardigang, we both needed to do it full-time.”
Cat and Morgan quit their corporate jobs in March this year to focus their attention on Cardigang full time.
The pair now sell an average of 20kg every day and have even seen people on the street wearing their Cardigang creations, which Morgan said ‘brings a big smile’ to her face
“Now in our second year of business, we are finding our footing and focusing on growing the business through product development and expansion into other markets,” said Cat.
“Both of these things would be next to impossible if Cardigang were still a side-chase.”
While they say the lockdown was a ‘catapult’ for the business, they see the love of knitwear continuing now that the world has opened up in part due to a focus on eco-friendly fashion and comfortable clothing.
“Fashion has become more casual – of course the tracksuit had a moment, but even though we’re going out more now, the idea that you can be both comfortable and stylish is something we’ve really gravitated towards,” said Cat.
“People have also become more aware of the impact that a lot of consumerism, including fashion, has on the environment and as a result are making more conscious choices when it comes to the fashion they buy,” Morgan added.
While business is still booming, Morgan and Cat plan to expand Cardigang’s range to include knitwear for people to wear after the chilly winter months
Top six health benefits of knitting
1. Lowers blood pressure and heart rate: After finishing a good knitting session, you will probably feel relaxed. Relaxation is healthy because it lowers the level of stress hormones. Remember that high levels of stress hormones in your body negatively affect the heart and circulation.
2. Keeps your fingers and arms supple: The small, precise, quick movements required in knitting are important for keeping your muscles stable and toned and your joints flexible. For people with arthritis, knitting is a great way to maintain mobility by keeping your fingers moving. However, remember to take frequent stretching breaks, be gentle and don’t overdo it.
3. Helps manage pain: Knitting can help keep your mind engaged, whether you’re trying to fall asleep or traveling. A true mindfulness practice, knitting can help you exercise more power and control over your thoughts and calm your mind. It takes up a lot of brain capacity, leaving you with less capacity to focus on physical or emotional pain that can be detrimental to your well-being.
4. Calms anxiety and boosts mood: Touching something as soft as merino wool can elicit a calming response similar to petting a cat or dog. Choosing a color to work with that you love can help you feel good and boost your mood too. Knitting is meditative, can calm your mental state and give you a moment to pause and refocus on your goals.
5. Reduces binge eating: You can’t reach for junk food when your hands are busy. Knitting while hanging out at home or watching TV can prevent you from eating unnecessarily. You get a better diet when you are busy with a knitting project.
6. Enhances your sense of purpose: A knitting project gives you a sense of purpose knowing you have a goal to accomplish. The closer you get to it, the more inspired you feel. Even better, creating stylish handmade chunky knitted merino wool blankets for friends or family members can be very satisfying.
Since the first 40kg order, the pair now sell an average of 20kg every day and have even seen people on the street wearing their Cardigang creations, which Morgan said ‘brings a big smile’ to her face.
Moran said she’s been surprised by how often customers tell them how knitting has had a positive impact on their lives, from helping with anxiety to being able to connect with grandparents.
While business is still booming, Morgan and Cat plan to expand Cardigang’s range to include knitwear for people to wear after the chilly winter months.
They are also planning to launch their products in the US as they anticipate that American customers will embrace the brand.
“We believe the key to our success is the accessibility, unique style and playfulness of our sets,” said Morgan.
“We focus on maintaining that essence as we move into more styles, fibers and markets.”