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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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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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Father’s Day

Earlier in the year I wrote about Mothering Sunday, so I thought that I should write about Father’s Day. My father always called it Dad’s Day, and the celebration wasn’t mentioned in church, so I assumed it was a less established celebration – perhaps conjured up by my dad! However having looked at the Internet I discovered that there are varying days dedicated to Fathers around the world, and that one of them dates back to the Middle Ages.

In the UK we celebrate Father’s Day on the 3rd Sunday in June, and actually we imported the idea from the US, where it was established in the early 20th century. When in the 1930s Australia adopted the idea of Father’s Day they chose the first Sunday in September, as this was away from other special days. While some northern countries, including Norway and Finland, chose the second Sunday in November.

First celebrated in 1919 former USSR countries celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day, this is also known as Men’s Day, but also includes male and female members of the armed services. Russia celebrate this on 23rd February, while other countries celebrate it on varying dates.

The Catholic Church mark Saint Joseph’s Day on 19th March, and have used this day to celebrate fathers since the Middle Ages. A number of Catholic countries now celebrate Father’s Day on this date.

Concrete Dad letters for Father’s Day

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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.

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Etsy, Artibus and nuMonday

For a craft seller, Etsy is the go-to platform, but there has been much debate on social media about their recent increase in fees and it appears that many sellers have decided to leave Etsy and join other platforms.

I have a few thoughts on this.

Etsy has been going for years and is a well established site with millions of sellers and buyers, so they know what they are doing and they bring in the traffic. However sellers are competing against maybe too many other sellers and their products can get lost. That said, if you have good photographs and good SEO, then your products will get seen and sales happen. Some cynics say that Etsy’s prices are just going to go up and up and up, but we will just have to wait and see on that one.

nuMonday is newer, only a year or two old, with around 8000 sellers. The layman out there probably will not have heard of it, but it is great in that there is a fixed monthly fee and no other transaction, listing, or shipping fees, unlike Etsy. At the moment they only have UK sellers but buyers can be worldwide. This platform seems to be growing quickly.

Artibus is brand new, only a few weeks old and I have signed up with them after winning a sneaky free month! Their website seems quite clunky and I think there are a few teething issues they need to resolve, but, like nuMonday it has a fixed monthly fee. Artibus is based in the US, but sellers and buyers are worldwide.

I see them as having different uses. Etsy for the complete stranger who happens across your product whilst browsing and loves it enough to buy. And then nuMonday and Artibus can be used more to direct people to from social media and, hopefully, google search. Obviously nuMonday will be more focussed on the UK and Artibus on the US.

I am signed up with all 3 at the moment, almost as a trial to see which works best for me. Let me know your thoughts on the issue.

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Be my Concrete Valentine!

What better way to show your commitment and everlasting love than a concrete gift this Valentine’s! My concrete pieces are long lasting, solid and beautiful and really evoke a feeling of permanence. Give a gift that lasts this valentine’s rather than chocolates and flowers!

I have some special valentine’s pieces on offer this year which I think you will really like! Take a look below and contact me if there’s anything you fancy!

Also please pop by my Instagram account @gemsconcretegems tomorrow at 6pm (1st February) where I will be taking part in the @craftyfeatures valentine’s market. Lots of great offers to be had!

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Keeping it real in 2019

It’s always tempting at this time of year to make crazy unrealistic resolutions, whether for yourself or for your business, and I’m not saying that I’m not going to do the same, but it is so important not to put too much on your plate all at once either. This is perhaps why I’m writing this post now rather than 3 weeks ago.

I have some big plans and plenty of new ideas for Gem’s Concrete Gems for 2019, but I’m also massively aware of my limitations, the biggest one of which is my time. I’ve always said my business is going to be a slow burner, due to having small children which take up most of my time, and working 2 days a week, which pretty much takes up the rest of the time I have! I’m just left with evenings and the odd nap to ‘concrete’. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation really in that if I don’t have time to work on the business, it will never grow enough to be able to stop working at my ‘proper’ job, which would then give me more time to work on growing the business!! That said though, as the boys get older and start school / preschool, I will gradually have more time to devote to concreting anyway. So whilst I’m keen to move forward, it’s understandable if I don’t get very far I think.

Anyway, back to my big plans! I have set myself the usual goals of being more organised and spending less time procrastinating, and these have largely started out well (I think). I’ve bought some new shelving units (see below) and finally unpacked my stock after December’s craft fairs. This made me realise that I need to build up more stock, so I’ve been in the workshop a bit as well over the past couple of weeks.

Procrastination is a hard one for me, as I am trying to increase my social media following (in the hope of converting followers to sales) but this seems to require a lot of liking, following, posting etc. which feels like procrastination really. I try to do it whilst watching TV in the evening but then it feels like I’m never really relaxing, so I’m not sure whether I need to look at my approach a bit. I’m definitely thinking of scheduling more posts so that I can do more in one go and then ignore it for a while, but I guess it’s just one of those necessities when trying to run an online craft business!

Bigger plans that I’m not sure whether they are achievable this year are to get myself into a physical shop or two! This would be amazing, however it feels like a long way off yet. It requires firstly more stock, and secondly lots of networking and applications to stores. Obviously once again, these things take time, so I will see how it goes.

I’d also like to grow the blog, and possibly set it up so I can sell directly from it, but I’m not sure if this is feasible at the moment (possibly part of the 5 year plan).

New ideas!

I have so many new ideas floating around in my head that it’s impossible to put them all into writing. However, I’m currently working on some pieces for Valentine’s Day, which I will be selling over on my Instagram account @gemsconcretegems as part of the @craftyfeatures Valentine’s market on 1st February. Be sure to check it out!

I’ve also been working on some miniature pots like the ones below, which will be going on Etsy soon! Keep a look out or send me a message if you’re interested.

Colour is another area I am experimenting with at the moment, in particular marbling in the concrete, such as in the coasters below. I love the effect in these.

Marbled hexagonal concrete coasters

Finally I have started to offer personalisation, so that customers can have their initials or a word on their item, as below.

Hexagonal concrete tealight holder personalised

So, these are my plans, we will see how it all pans out, but I’m not going to be too disheartened if I don’t make as much progress as I’d like, because I have time and it’s better to get it right in the long run than mess it up now! It’s all about keeping it real and enjoying the ride!