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Just a Review

I started following the “Just a Card” campaign when I saw Gemma mention it. The campaign aims to get people to support small independent business such as Gem’s Concrete Gems, and to realise that every little purchase makes a difference.

The other night we were talking at our crochet group about the various businesses people are involved in. The conversation went like this:

“I saw X, she and her friend went on one of your courses and they loved it.”

“I wish they would write a review.”

Followed by a collective sigh, as everyone knew of people who love their products and services but don’t post positive reviews.

I came home and posted reviews on recent Etsy purchases that I had liked but never got round to writing. I would have posted reviews on NuMonday purchases but they don’t seem to have a review mechanism…

However I have a caveat to my recommendation to post a review. If the service or product you get from a small business is not what you would expect don’t immediately post a negative review, contact the supplier and explain why you are unhappy and maybe suggest how they could improve. I bought something that was a long time coming and what was delivered wasn’t quite what I ordered; when I contacted the supplier it turned out she was a young mum, on jury service for something lengthy, and she had sent my order out in a hurry when distracted. A negative review would do no good in this case, jury service only lasts a short time and hopefully her experience with me was a prompt to be careful in checking orders.

So when you buy something from an independent business take the time to give them a 5 star review. If they are not up to scratch don’t post a negative review unless they are dreadful and you feel strongly that fellow buyers need warning off.

If you have bought from Gem’s Concrete Gems, please consider leaving a review on Etsy or Facebook.

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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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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!

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Craft fair debrief

Last weekend I had a stall at my first ever craft fair and it was certainly a fantastic learning experience! I didn’t sell as much as I’d wanted to and only really sold to friends and family, which is definitely not the way to have a profitable business, but hey ho it is still early days.

Gem's Concrete Gems craft fair stall display

The above picture is my stall table. I think it looks quite good but it definitely couldn’t have had anything else on it. I actually requested a smaller table, not realising quite how much stock I had and how big some of the pieces are. Luckily they were able to squeeze in a bigger table for me, but I did feel a bit silly and guilty for messing them around. So I’d really recommend doing a full mock up of your table before you go if you can. I only mocked up a few items at home beforehand but that obviously wasn’t enough.

It took a lot longer than I thought it would to set up my display. I had a lot of stock as I didn’t want to risk running out, so it took quite a few trips from the car to bring everything in and then I had to unpack it all and figure out how to display it best. I moved things about quite a lot and rearranged it as the afternoon went on. This is definitely one of those things that gets quicker with practice and experience.

My biggest light bulb moment though was that it is so important to present your items to the right demographic. The fair I attended was in a church, where the majority of footfall were the elderly population, who were buying things like cross stitched Christmas cards, mini paper Christmas trees and stained glass decorations, all of which were at the lower end of the price scale and were quite traditional in design. It seemed like a lot of people weren’t even there to buy anything, except many some tea and cake! My products are definitely more on the modern and on trend size of things, which is in opposition to the majority of customers.

Now I did have items on my stall which fitted a range of price points, but I think that my ideal customer just wasn’t there. So many people complimented my products, which suggests that they are aesthetically pleasing, but obviously they didn’t like them enough to actually pay money for them! My ideal customer is in the 25 to 45 age bracket, mostly female, with disposable income and a liking for unique, modern trends, and that is not who came to visit my stall!

Another factor in this was that there just were not that many people attending and there were not that many craft stalls either, which wouldn’t have helped bring in customers. So I now know that I certainly need to consider who might be attending a fair before I decide whether to have a stall there or not! If I want to make a profitable business, then I need to be a bit savvy in this respect, otherwise it is just a waste of time.

However, in spite of this, I think this was a really beneficial experience as a first attempt. It made me consider how to set up as stall, what stock and equipment I’d need and how to behave whilst there, so now I feel much more prepared to tackle a bigger fair in the future!

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Christmas Products

Concrete star tealight holders with gold or red glitter decoration

I’ve been busy preparing for my first craft fair which is on Saturday, so I haven’t had much time for the blog, however, with only 2 months to go till the big day, I really wanted to share with you my Christmas products which are available over on my Etsy shop.

All of my Christmas items this year are made of concrete (of course), and decorated with either glitter or glitter paste. Click the links below to get a similar effect.

Craft Planet Glitter Shaker, Pack of 6, Multi-Colour

Imagination Crafts Glitter Sparkle Medium Clear Gel 50ml – Bright Red

The first two items are hanging concrete stars. There are two sizes available in my shop. I love the mini ones, they’re really cute and not at all like concrete really. The decorations are not very heavy despite what you might think.

They look great hanging on the Christmas tree, but would also work really well hanging from a mantelpiece or any other Christmas decor you have. I think they work in both a modern and a more traditional setting.

To buy the hanging stars, click here and for the mini ones, click here.

Also available are hanging Christmas trees, again decorated in glitter or glitter paste.

I think these look really lovely hanging in the real Christmas tree pictured here.

To buy the larger trees click here and for the mini ones, click here.

The last decorations that I want to share with you today are definitely my favourite. These are tealight candles in the shape of a star or a tree with glitter decoration. They come with a tealight candle as well. These look fantastic as part of a Christmas table decoration or mantelpiece display. Look out for a post soon on my table decoration styling, where I will be showing how you can display my decorations over Christmas.

To buy the star tealights, click here.

To buy the tree tealights, click here.

I hope you like my decorations, and if you do, please head over to my Etsy shop and take a look at my other products.