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Valentine’s Day Styling

Love concrete letters

Valentine’s Day is a day when you can really show your loved one how much you care! And what better way than by adding some unique and romantic touches to your home.

Today’s lifestyle is often very fast-paced with little time to sit down with your loved one and just appreciate them for who they are. We rush around, juggling a hundred different things, often with little time just to ‘be’ together.

So this Valentine’s Day, why not take the opportunity to create a beautiful, romantic space for you and your loved one to relax, eat a delicious meal, chat and just be together.

I’ve taken part in a skills swap with the talented Sapna Odlin Photography and she has created some fantastic, romantic photos with my Valentine’s range. Check them out below, or click here to shop the range.

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Diversifying my product range

For quite a few months now, things have been going on in the background at Concrete Gems HQ, which could mean some very big changes coming this way soon. I am diversifying my product range.

When you set up as a small business, there are so many pieces of advice thrown at you, but one of the biggest ones is to find your niche! In other words, don’t try and make everything, but concentrate on one area or one type of product. And I think I’ve done that quite well so far! Concrete home décor is definitely a niche area and one that some people love (yay!) but some people hate (boo!), like marmite!! It is a material that not many people think of for products, and something that can be versatile, beautiful and totally unique. Unfortunately, concrete is also something that you wouldn’t buy repeatedly, unlike food or wax melts for example, and this means that returning customers are less likely.

Having said that, all of the advice suggests that the only way to be a successful business owner is to niche down. If you’d like to find out more about niching down, check out this blog. Maybe I haven’t quite found my product yet!

Another thing that running a small business requires is constant adaptation and change, usually achieved through trail and error. Which products sell, which don’t. Which platforms are best to sell on, etc. etc.

And so I came to my decision! I’m going to go and do the exact opposite of niching down and instead diversify into a new product line! Eek! This is quite a scary prospect and I haven’t quite worked out exactly how everything is going to work. Do I set up a separate business or run everything together as one? Do I use the same name or a separate tagline, or something completely different? Should I set up separate Facebook and Instagram pages? Or combine everything. I don’t want to confuse the customer. But I also don’t want to give myself extra, unnecessary work to do, especially at the beginning.

Please don’t worry though, I’m not giving up on the concrete at all. All of my products are and will still be available over at my shop. I will also still be making more. You will just find some other products also appearing alongside them, which I really hope you will also like.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this. After all, you are the customer and I am here to serve your needs and wants. The images below will give you a little hint about what I might be expanding into. 😉

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Getting the balance right – running a business from your phone

I’ve recently had a painful, but insightful experience. I fell down the stairs and my phone bore the brunt of it (luckily I wasn’t hurt). But this meant, I had to send it off to be mended (for a lot of money) and I was left for four whole days with no phone. No instant access to email, no access to my Etsy or Amazon seller apps, or my website. No instant access to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. And no camera to snap product pics and life pics. Each time I wanted to check anything, I had to log into the laptop, and if you’ve ever used Instagram on a laptop, you will know, it just isn’t worth bothering. Not to mention the annoyance of no one being able to call me either.

Balance

Anyhow, this experience got me thinking about my phone usage. Getting the balance right is a tricky business. If you are running a business from your phone, modern life dictate that customers want instant responses, and an active presence on social media is essential. And so, I do use my phone quite a lot. But sitting there with your nose stuck in your phone 24/7 is also no good. Firstly, for actually producing your products; and secondly for the rest of life –  family, hobbies, partners, friends etc. They are not going to be impressed if you are constantly on your phone.

Phone-free time

I realised from my four days phone-free that I love my phone and everything it provides me in terms of speed and ease of running my business, as well as camera quality, keeping in touch with people, looking things up on google, tracking my fitness, etc. Conversely though, I did partially enjoy being without it. I had more time for other things and gave me a feeling of freedom. I enjoyed just watching tv and not scrolling through my phone at the same time. However, I just couldn’t quite shake the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) on orders, conversations, news etc. etc.

Getting it right

So is it really possible to get the balance right? I think that it is. In reality, the length of time it takes to reply isn’t going to make or break a sale, I don’t think. People will wait a few hours for a response. Actually it may also be quicker to do all your emails in one go, rather than constantly checking them throughout the day. The same probably applies to social media too. Less of the mindless scrolling and more intentional interactions.

A few hours a day phone free is definitely recommended anyway and I plan on trying harder to organise my time on my phone better. Less procrastinating, and more productivity. Saying all that, though, it’s so easy to fall back into the same old routine…

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Seasonal Home Decor

Do you redecorate/rearrange your house to match each season? I don’t and didn’t really know that it was a thing until recently. But it seems that seasonal home decor is a thing and that maybe I should be making more effort!

The reason I don’t change my home decor is purely time. In between working the day job, running Concrete Gems and looking after my boys, there isn’t much time left. What time remains is spent enjoying family time and trying to redecorate the house to bring it up to date from the 80’s to 2019, which has taken 2 years so far. So redoing the decor for each season isn’t really achievable.

There are, however, plenty of easy and quick things that you can do to make your house reflect the season, without spending loads of time and effort.

Nature

Bring natural elements into your home that reflect the season. Daffodils and succulents in spring, for example, bright coloured flowers in summer, herbs and colourful fallen leaves for autumn, and of course pine cones for winter.

Colour

Again there are different colours which emulate the seasons. In spring I like yellows and greens. For summer, I like bright blues and pinks. Autumn is about reds, oranges and browns. And winter is white, gold and silver.

Learn more about seasonal colour palettes here.

Decor

In winter, I like to have lots of pretty lights and candles around the house. In spring it’s more about fresh, clean, minimalism. For summer I like fresh flowers and bold prints. And for autumn, why not try some of my concrete pumpkins and some dried autumn leaves to set off your seasonal home decor.

Concrete pumpkins https://www.concretegems.co.uk/shop/mini-concrete-pumpkin-grey/
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Too early for Christmas?

There’s a lot of debate in the crafting world around when the best time is to start advertising and selling Christmas products, and I don’t think there’s a right answer.

Concrete Christmas star

I had a sale of a Christmas decoration in February, and that couldn’t be much further from the next one.

Generally though, I don’t think people start buying Christmas stuff until after a specific date, such as Halloween or a birthday. For me, is after my birthday in October. However there are, increasingly more it seems, people who like to get organised and start stocking up throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to capture these sales but equally not annoying the people who don’t want to think about Christmas until at least the autumn.

From my limited experience, I think the products should be available from July/August time but posting about them should come slowly. Maybe test the waters in August, but don’t go full on Christmas in every social media post until October.

That said I know of some who have already been making Christmas orders, so who knows really. Let me know what you think!

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Things are changing

I wanted to let you all know that there are a few changes which may affect how you view this blog and I wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to adjust.

Gem’s Concrete Gems has a brand new name, a new logo and soon, a new website.

I am becoming Concrete Gems, a more succinct name, but retaining the same ring and analogy to my name.

From 20th August, you will no longer be able to access gemsconcretegems.co.uk. Instead I will be at concretegems.co.uk where you will find not only a blog, but also my beautiful new shop. It will be changing as I get to grips with it all, so please bear with me.

To ensure you don’t miss out on anything, please do sign up to my mailing list, where you will be privy to special offers as well as the most up to date news.eepurl.com/dK3ccc

Social media links may also be changing so please keep an eye out for that too.

Apologies for any hassle this may cause, but I hope you’ll agree that this is exciting development for Concrete Gems.

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Hello world!

I’ve heard that you can’t truly build a successful business on Etsy alone, and I believe it may well be true. Etsy is great, it has lots of traffic, great support and a very user friendly platform. I know their fees are often off-putting, however I do not find them to be too much of an issue, when you think about all of the work they put into advertising and bringing in buyers. However, it is still their site! It doesn’t belong to me and they could shut me down if they wanted to. So after much thought, research, trial and error, etc. etc. here we are. Welcome to my new site!

I hope you will find the site user friendly and nice to look at. I am still going to continue the blog, and Grandma’s corner will also continue. But now, you will also be able to shop Concrete Gems from right here. I hope you like it. Please let me know how you get on, leave a comment or a review, and please contact me if you have any problems or want to order something specific.

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Concrete and Clay Collaboration

I have something very exciting to share with you today, which I guess you might have seen if you follow me on social media: my very first collaboration. I’ve been working with the fantastic Kim from @maidinards to bring you this wonderful gift set.

The set includes:

  • a marbled black and white concrete trinket trays – the tray is hexagonal and about 10cm diameter. It has a cork base to protect furniture and has been sealed with a gloss finish. The marbling is completely unique and no two are ever the same. The tray is finished with a silver leaf edging.
  • A pair of personalised initial cufflinks. These are made of clay and come in a choice of square, circle or heart shape. Your initials are then added in red or black. These come in a small box as well.

The whole set is £20 plus postage, which is an exclusive collaboration price.

This is a fabulous gift idea, especially with Father’s Day coming up soon, so why not grab yours now. Send me a message here or on social media @gemsconcretegems to reserve yours now.