Me and my concrete
My name is Gemma, the face and name behind Concrete Gems, based in Reading, U.K. I am passionate about making concrete beautiful, and bringing it into the home. I enjoy the process of taking the same stuff that the ugliest buildings are made of. Then making it into something comforting, stylish and modern. Concrete is so much more versatile than people think. I am constantly amazed at what I can make with it. My products are mainly small pieces, clocks, candles, coasters etc., which will look great in any home. The industrial texture and look of my work complements the modern urban home. Conversely, it also provides a stylish feature to more traditional houses as well.
Experimenting with concrete, resin, pattern and colour…
I try to make my pieces as unique as possible. A lot of care and attention goes into the finish of each item. I use silicone moulds to cast the majority of my concrete, which I have made myself using my own prototypes. This means the pieces are truly individual. Each piece is hand finished: some are sanded to reveal the stone effect underneath, whilst others are finished with wax or other painted decorations. Some of my pieces also include resin, which I am only just starting to really experiment with. Watch this space for more resin pieces. All of my candles are made with soy wax and essential oils for a light pleasant scent.
Concrete in its purest state of cement, sand and stones, is a natural product. I try not to add too much else to my concrete unless necessary, which keeps it as natural as possible. I am conscious of my effect on the environment and want to minimise my impact. My products are packaged in either recycled or recyclable materials wherever possible.
How it all began
Back in 2014, I was sat in the garden of my in-laws having a family barbecue, bemoaning my boring accountancy job (again…) and wishing I was doing something more creative. From somewhere the idea arose of making concrete clocks. I think my sister-in-law had just bought one!
So nothing much happened for a while – I was pregnant with my second baby and work was going through redundancies again! I escaped the cut for the third time, but I started thinking that this really wasn’t the life for me. I wanted more flexibility, more time to spend with kids. My ideal would enable me to take and fetch them from school and be around as my mum had been for me. Also nursery fees are sooo expensive. So I started experimenting with the concrete idea and produced some quite good products.
At the same time, I was told I would be made redundant for real this time, at the same time as going on maternity leave (not because of that though I hasten to add).
So this was my chance! And Concrete Gems was born!*
*Following on from this, I now find myself working 2 days a week in an office – good for the money, bad for the productivity. We will see how it goes.
Where I’m headed
At this point in time, I don’t really know where Concrete Gems is going to take me, but I’m determined to give it my all. I want to bring concrete home décor to the UK, so much so that all households will have a concrete candle or clock on display in their living rooms. Additionally, I want to be able to give up my other job (boring) and dedicate myself full time to this (allowing for childcare of course), and I want to make a decent living from it.
I run the business myself but I have a great support network, particularly my husband, who gets dragged into pretty much every decision I make! I know the business will evolve over time as I find out what works and what doesn’t but that is all part of the fun of it, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
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