Though it’s the year many of us will try our hardest to forget, 2020 was also the year that brought out skills in people they didn’t even know they had. Some have run more miles in the past 12 months than they have ever ran in their lives, whilst others have perfected the infamous banana bread, that (quite literally) everyone and their grandmother seemed to be making. The novelty of these newfound hobbies and skills unfortunately seemed to die off for many of us, especially come Summer 2020 when restrictions began to ease. The same however, cannot be said for Yarn Olive, a small crafting business specialising in handmade crochet items. “I never planned on making this a business. I started out just making gifts for people – it was their response that made me think ‘I’m actually quite good at this, maybe I can utilise it and make some extra money”. Charlotte Wade is the local mastermind behind Yarn Olive, based in Truro with her partner Harry, two children Rae and Rudy, and their dog, Olive. Despite an ongoing, seemingly never-ending pandemic, and lockdown after lockdown, Yarn Olive is thriving! Just last month, Charlotte started attaching tags to her products, proudly featuring the Yarn Olive logo.
It all started with a blanket gifted to Charlotte, for her daughter, which inspired her to try and make her own crochet blanket, not imagining for one moment that almost two years later she would be producing beautifully crafted bobble hats, headbands and keyrings in a matter of hours. She cites YouTube as her source for learning and adjusting the different crochet patterns to best suit her products. “My favourites are the two-tone beanies. The colour combinations are just endless, and they look so effective. I also love the headbands because they work up quickly and I live in mine!” As for the name, Charlotte said she wanted something basic, “I went with Olive which is my dog’s name. I just love her name and she’s great company on my late nights working!”
The response to Yarn Olive, Charlotte said, has been better than she could’ve imagined. “I started Yarn Olive just before the first lockdown announcement which was a bit of a worry. But business wise everything has been really positive! Everyone started shopping online with lots of people wanting to support more handmade and local businesses”. Not only did Charlotte start Yarn Olive right before a pandemic, but she also happened to be seven months pregnant with her second child. When she gave birth last May she took the time off to look after herself and her family until October. Since then, however, Charlotte says her order book hasn’t been empty.
Today, Yarn Olive has support from over 1,000 people across social media platforms, primarily Instagram and Facebook. Whilst she’s tried paid advertisements on social media, Charlotte wants the growth of Yarn Olive to be as natural as possible. “I’m lucky that my customers share my work which generates orders on its own! Word of mouth is HUGE in the small business community”.
If you’re feeling inspired by Charlotte and what she’s achieved with Yarn Olive, she has some advice for you. “Have a strong idea and run with it! Have faith in your abilities. If you love what you do, and you’re good at it then you’ll find a way to make it work.” Advice she wishes someone had given to her? That it’s ok to say no. “Only take on what you can manage. You can’t please everyone, and when you’re working on such a small scale you need to be realistic about what you can get done”. And most importantly, “only make what you enjoy making. There is nothing worse than slogging your way through an item that isn’t for you. Stick to what you love.”
The future for Yarn Olive? Well, Charlotte has big ambitions for her business. “The ultimate goal is to have this be my full time, sole income without the need for employment elsewhere”. A website, craft fairs, and releasing her own patterns, are among some of the many aspirations Charlotte has for Yarn Olive. In ten-years-time she discusses having her very own workshop or office. “Maybe I’ll have someone else working for me, or some kind of business partner by then too. 10 years feels like a lifetime a way, but I’m sure it will be here in no time”.