Designer sisters

Give your photos a DIY makeover courtesy of this creative pair.

Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman share the creative gene. From the time they were teens, the American sisters dabbled in everything from wedding photography to Etsy stores to lifestyle blogging. What they never imagined was that they’d land on top of the App Store charts. Twice.

In the early days of their popular blog, A Beautiful Mess, Larson often doodled and wrote whimsical phrases on photos before posting them. When readers asked how she created the images, Larson had an “aha” moment: What if A Beautiful Mess had an app that let you easily personalise your pics – minus the need for expensive software or creative expertise?

“All we knew is that we wanted it to be really easy to use,” Chapman says.

A Color Story’s editing tools are powerful yet simple to use.

With the help of Larson’s husband, Jeremy, the company’s lead designer, the A Beautiful Mess app launched in 2013. True to Chapman’s vision, it made adding hand-painted stickers, textured backgrounds and modern fonts to images “really easy.”

A Beautiful Mess shot to number one on the App Store charts its first day. Within a month, Larson and Chapman had recouped the money they’d invested.

“We put everything we had into that first app, including all of our savings,” says Larson, “so it was such a great moment for us. It was a lesson to trust ourselves.”

Larson and Chapman have continued to develop apps that stick to the A Beautiful Mess mantra: simple, easy to do and fun.

Go wild with A Design Kit’s fun stickers.

Their biggest success so far: A Color Story, which focuses on filters and photo editing.

“At the time, most of the photo filter apps had a moody and dark feel, which can be cool if that’s the look you want,” says Chapman. “The question became: If we wanted to move away from what was already being offered and create a filtering app – what would it look like?”

More than a million downloads later, they clearly found an answer.

There are video apps we’d love to create, and we definitely have more book ideas as well.

Earlier this year the pair launched A Design Kit, which they describe as “the trendy little sister” of A Color Story. Standout features include more realistic brushes, hundreds of new stickers and designs, and a much wider selection of fonts than the original A Beautiful Mess app.

They don’t plan on slowing down the releases anytime soon. “There are video apps we’d love to create, more product lines and we definitely have more book ideas as well,” says Chapman.

“The future will have to be flexible,” Larson adds. “Before anything else we’re sisters, and anything we do has to support that relationship. If you want to be in business with your family, it will always have to come first.”

    A Color Story

    Photo & Video


    A Design Kit

    Photo design, brushes + text