Design. Shop. Retreats.
Frank&Olive is a modern and stylish knitwear brand, founded by one of the UK’s top Crochet Designers, Ruby McGrath.
At just 20 years old, Ruby taught herself to crochet whilst pregnant with her first child, Olive. Having had no business or fashion design experience, only a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design and A Level in Fine Art, she managed to teach herself the basics of crochet using books and magazines. Those skills then enabled her to begin creating her own designs, using her knowledge of shaping, texture and tension.
Ruby was unaware of the exciting new chapter she had begun, and happily continued to make clothes, toys and blankets for her new baby. It wasn’t until friends and family and, soon after, complete strangers in the street began to enquire about commissions. Ruby naively created a Facebook page as a point of contact for customers and to help manage orders. This was the starting point of Ruby’s humble crochet commissions becoming a viable and profitable business, which was about to grow into the recognised brand that it is today.
Orders began coming in thick and fast, which completely overwhelmed Ruby and became far more than just a one-woman job. By the time she was 22, Ruby was burntout. The mass production of items, making the same things over and over for hours on end, had begun to extinguish the passion she had once had for her work. She knew there must be something else she could be doing, another route she could take the business, that would be even more profitable and enable her to get back to the designing and creativity which she loved so much.
A chance encounter with renowned quilter and designer, Stuart Hillard (of BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee fame), landed Ruby her first magazine appearance. Her first ever feature spanned across 7 pages and catapulted her into the craft industry. She began receiving emails and calls from famous magazines and yarn companies who wanted to either collaborate, meet her or commission designs. As a result, Ruby joined the Mollie Makes team, helping them teach crochet at big events around the UK, such as the Folksy Summer School and Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair. This only spread her name even further and landed her some of the biggest collaborations and magazine features to date.
Teaching crochet gave Ruby the idea to start running workshops for people who wanted to learn. This created a new income stream for the business and enabled her to slow down the mass production, which she so desperately wanted to move away from. Along side the workshops, Ruby also began designing for magazines and yarn companies, which, eventually, meant that Ruby could stop taking orders completely and concentrate on her new ventures within the business.
Now 24, and a mother of two (having welcomed her son, Frank, into the world late 2014) Ruby was at the peak of her design career. The brand was known to crafters and crocheters around the world and she had built relationships with all the suppliers, yarn companies and magazines in the industry. Forever the entrepreneur, Ruby strived for more and craved a challenge. One night, whilst settling down to sleep, Ruby shot up out of bed and called her best friend, having had an exciting new idea that she wanted to act on right away.
In March 2015, Ruby hosted her first Crochet Retreat, just 3 months after first getting the idea. Months of hard work and dedication meant that not only had she managed to find the perfect, luxurious venue, a whole host of amazing sponsors and an incredible chef, but Ruby also managed to sell out bookings in less than a week.
4 years later, Ruby is still hosting the retreats, running workshops around the UK and designing, only now with a very large online following and her own team of Makers. She is now on her 3rd retreat venue, having upgraded and expanded due to the immense success of the retreats.
At 28, Ruby’s plans for the future include further developing her luxury clothing brand, writing a book and taking the retreats international!