How the Memorial Day Crochet brand got its start on Instagram

  • Delsy Gouw, 26, started the Memorial Day crochet brand on Instagram as a hobby.
  • She has since filled commissions for Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Rihanna.
  • She eventually quit her job to run the business full time, hiring her mother to help keep it running.

The day Bella Hadid reached out to Memorial Day via Instagram direct message for a crochet hat was the day owner Delsy Gouw, 26, quit her full-time job in marketing. With orders stacked up, a growing waiting list and now celebrity demand, her side gig became her full-time passion within hours.

Today, Memorial Day — named after Gouw’s birthday — has a combined 50,000 subscribers on instagram and ICT Tac and become a household name among influencers and celebrities like Hadid, Rihanna, and Kylie Jenner.

A knitted bag on a sofa

A Memorial Day bag.

Courtesy of Delsy Gouw

Gouw told Insider it all started with a simple hobby she discovered when she lost her job at women’s clothing company Batsheva at the start of the pandemic. While crocheting in her spare time and attending school at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Gouw struggled for the next three months to find another job located in New York City and eventually landed a full-time position with the company. BuzzBack marketing research. “At the time, I was doing things for my friends just for fun,” Gouw said. “Working in the marketing company, I wasn’t able to do that much.”

Gouw’s first commissions through Memorial Day were favors — small makeshift commissions from his peers. “It was kind of a stupid project,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking from a business perspective, it was more to do something for my friends.” Gouw didn’t expect it to become anything more – that is, until his favorite Instagram influencer Jo Rosenthal, who has more than 61,000 followers on Instagram, reached out to him last September.

A knitted swimsuit

A Memorial Day costume.

Courtesy of Delsy Gouw

“I’ve followed her for years and really like her style,” Gouw said. Rosenthal saw Gouw’s products through an acquaintance’s Instagram feed, Gouw said, and asked for her own commission — she then sent Rosenthal a comfortable white-and-red plaid handbag.

Rosenthal posted the article on his profile and within days, Memorial Day received hundreds of followers. “She posted it without me asking her to,” Gouw said.

As orders poured in, Gouw began to be overwhelmed with her full-time job, academic responsibilities, and lack of manpower for her small crochet business. “I kept turning down orders because I only made five hats a week,” she said. She officially quit her marketing job in March.

“These are all signs of potential long-term activity,” Gouw said of the influx of orders and contact with Hadid.

“I want to make sure I have a goal for myself,” she added. “Set goals and make sure I achieve those goals like an official business.”

A knitted hat

A Memorial Day hat.

Courtesy of Delsy Gouw

Determined to achieve these goals, she put her marketing background to work, cleaning up her Instagram account, creating a website, and ships its products to stylists or influencers who may want to collaborate. Gouw said she already had an Instagram advertising marketing strategy, but by launching her website, she could focus on showcasing her pieces rather than selling on social media. “I’ve definitely maintained the general vibe since I started: non-traditional ways of using the pieces, incorporating box name brands into images, and doing more guerrilla-style marketing,” she said.

Shortly after the red, black and yellow crocheted hat she had made for Hadid received 2.2 million likes on Instagram, Instagram influencers started knocking on Gouw’s virtual door for items like bikinis and bags. In April, Kylie Jenner’s stylist ordered a hook bikini set. “Once a stylist reaches out and says they want to dress this celebrity, to me it’s like, ‘Oh, people are looking at my pieces,'” Gouw said.

“In June of this year, physically, I couldn’t do anything anymore,” Gouw added. She noted that her time was split between making pieces as quickly as possible and taking care of administrative tasks such as order management, website maintenance and social media growth on TikTok and Instagram.

A collection of knitted hats

Memorial Day hats.

Courtesy of Delsy Gouw

“I realized that stretching made me focus less on the things I was really good at,” she said.

She first looked to hire a manufacturer in New York, “but that wasn’t what I wanted for my product,” Gouw said. As she FaceTimed her mother, Isnayanti, about finding a good fit, her mother, who taught Gouw to crochet when she was nine, asked, “Why don’t you teach me not?”

“It was perfect and I couldn’t believe it,” Gouw said. “She learned it in a day.” After asking her mother to send a fake product from Indonesia, Gouw hired her first full-time employee.

With her mother working remotely from Indonesia, Memorial Day began producing 10 hats a week. “That’s when I had the idea to reach out to other women in Indonesia who have a passion for crochet and who also have this kind of story – losing their jobs because of of COVID,” she said. Currently working with five women, Gouw and her mother hope to expand the team.

As for the future of the crochet business, Gouw said she has every intention of expanding her line of accessories into a crochet clothing brand. “I don’t think there’s a brand out there that focuses on this type of work,” she said.


Comments are closed.