By 1895 the Macdonald sisters and McNair had left the School of Art and set up independent design studios in Glasgow city centre. Over the next few years they worked together across a range of art forms, including posters, metalwork, watercolours, furniture and glass design.
Their experimental, imaginative and often highly stylised work was illustrated in leading periodicals, including the Studio, The Yellow Book and Dekorative Kunst, and exhibited in London, Paris, Venice and Turin. They were recognised as young artists of promise.
In 1898 McNair accepted the position of Instructor in Design at the School of Architecture and Applied Art, University College, Liverpool. The following year he and Frances married and Liverpool became their home for the next ten years.