Creative Boss Interview: How Frenchie (@arohaknits) constantly evolves her Instagram - and got to >23k followers.

For the third installment in the Creative Boss Instagram Interview series I was thrilled to partner up with Francoise (Frenchie) Danoy, knitwear designer and design coach extraordinaire!

If you are working in the fiber community chances are very high that you've already heard of Frenchie (or @arohaknits). She's not only putting out beautiful patterns at an amazing speed, but is also constantly pushing boundaries in terms of experimenting with new products (think beta pattern releases) and transparency in the fiber world. You can read more about her on her website where you'll also find all infos about her knitwear design challenges ("5 Shawls, 5 Days" is starting again soon!), e-courses and knitting patterns.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Kia Ora! My name is Francoise, but feel free to call me Frenchie.

I am a Yarn Alchemist: I transform yarn into knitwear designs for Fibre Muses, like you, to enjoy and also teach others how to become Yarn Alchemists themselves! (I'm also a Mystic Fibre Muse!)

My mission is to evolve and grow, and right now, the way I do that is by helping my Fibre Muses, like you, dive deep into themselves to find their creativity and magic. As a result of working with me, you can transform you yarn into a piece of fiber art, as well as discover and benefit from the magical properties of knitting, in order to create a more meaningful experience. 

When and why did you start your Instagram feed?

I started my IG feed in... November 2013 I believe? At least that's when I made the switch from a personal IG account to one where I was going to start showing off my work as a knitwear designer and build my following. At that time, I was living in Ubuyama, Japan, a super tiny village where I had no local community, so if I wanted to connect to the knitting community, it would have to be over social media. I was using IG a lot anyways, so it felt natural to do it there.

Your photos are so beautiful and extremely well styled. What is your advice on how people can develop a consistent approach to their photography and aesthetic?

Thank you! If you go back through my feed, you'll notice that my photo style has done through a lot of evolutions, but each "evolution" is consistent. So that's my advice. Play around with different styles, stick to one for a while, practice, practice, practice your photography and editing skills, and later down the road, allow yourself the permission to grow and evolve your style.

I think from you I learned how to edit my Instagram photos way back when - and I remember being so astounded as to what a difference it made. Would you be willing to share your top photo editing secrets? ;)

Practice, practice, practice and learning from the pros. I learned a ton of photography and editing skills from my husband and also my biz bestie, Chelsea Fitch, of @knitfitch. She's a professional photographer and she's given me soooo many tips on how to take good photos and how to edit them properly to make them pop. Don't ever be too haughty to learn from others! :D I still consult Chelsea for any graphic or photo questions I have.

You recently started another Instagram account (@transformyouryarn). What was the rationale behind that and how is your experience growing a new account entirely from scratch until now? 

If my Aroha Knits account is mostly photos from me, me, me, I wanted to create a new account that features my followers and give them some time in the limelight. People LOVE being noticed, even if it's just as simple as being featured on another account. This account is just for fun - I'm not doing too much right now to really grow it as that will take some time and strategy from me, but it's been really fun to see all the lovely photos in the #transformyouryarn hashtag!

And related to that - how much time do you spend per day on Instagram and how do you structure it so that you don’t go completely bonkers?

Before I hired my social media assistant, I would spend... maybe an hour a day on IG: going through hashtags, finding people in my tribe, responding to comments... I would also dedicate three days a week to "official" photoshoots for my IG, which could take up to an hour (I just use my iPhone camera, but setting up, taking the perfect shot, editing, that can take a while). But now that I have a social media assistant, I just have to worry about taking photos and responding to comments ;-)

Are there any tools you’re using to manage your account?

I use Iconosquare and the Insights feature of Instagram! I do need to check up on it now that I think about it...

And last, but not least - what are your top three tips when it comes to engaging with your Instagram tribe?

Share stories. Ask them questions. Respond to comments. Find a way to connect the bridge between what you do and how they fit into that narrative.

Bonus question: What are your current three favorite IG accounts?

URGH! The question of the ages. I love @knitfitch because duh, her feed is so colorful and pretty. I love @essenceandalchemy and @iamblaireporter, which I know are outside of the industry picks, but I love studying how those in different industries take their photos and connect to their audiences and develop their aesthetic.

Thank you so much for taking the time, Frenchie!

If you want to find out more about Frenchie, her knitwear designs, challenges and courses for designers, head over to her website and make sure to check out her Instagram @arohaknits!