Con­crete Gems

Owner Gemma Wil­liams

Berkshire Life - - BERKSHIRE TRAILBLAZE­RS -

“I’ve al­ways en­joyed mak­ing things and felt that there was some­thing cre­ative miss­ing in my life,” says Gemma Wil­liams, from Wood­ley in Read­ing.

“Back in 2014, I was at a fam­ily bar­be­cue and my sis­ter-in-law had just bought a con­crete clock. I thought: ‘I could have made that!’ And so the idea be­gan.

“I en­joy the process of tak­ing the same ma­te­rial that the ugli­est build­ings are made of and turning it into some­thing com­fort­ing, stylish and modern. Con­crete is so much more ver­sa­tile than peo­ple think and I am con­stantly amazed at what I can make with it.”

Gemma played with the idea of set­ting up a busi­ness while work­ing as an ac­coun­tant and start­ing a fam­ily, but af­ter hav­ing her sec­ond child in 2017, she de­cided to go for it and Con­crete Gems was born.

“I have so many more ideas than I have time to try out,” says Gemma. “I start with an idea that goes round my head for a while be­fore I put it down onto pa­per or into my design pro­gramme. Then a pro­to­type is made us­ing my 3D printer, which I can use to make a sil­i­cone mould. Then the con­crete can be cast. I love geo­met­ric shapes and the beauty of the in­dus­trial. My favourite com­bi­na­tion at the mo­ment is con­crete grey and cop­per.”

Gemma’s best-sell­ing prod­uct is her hexag­o­nal con­crete vase, which comes in grey or cream. Also pop­u­lar are the con­crete let­ters, which come in var­i­ous fin­ishes, in­clud­ing mar­bled con­crete and half-painted cop­per. Her mar­bled con­crete prod­ucts, such as coast­ers and clocks, also fare well.

“For Hal­loween, I make the cutest con­crete pump­kins, which come in grey or peach,” she says. “Dur­ing the pan­demic, my con­crete kits were par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar. At the mo­ment, there is the choice to make your own con­crete planter or set of two coast­ers, but I’m plan­ning a cou­ple of new kits to be re­leased soon as well.”

Gemma also works with jes­monite. “It’s a hy­brid prod­uct made of a min­eral base and resin liq­uid, of­ten called an eco-resin due to its non-toxic prop­er­ties,” she says. “I re­ally en­joy the bright colours that can be achieved.”

Gemma’s dream is to make this her full-time ca­reer. “At the mo­ment, Con­crete Gems is a small craft busi­ness that I run from my home in my spare time. I live with my hus­band and three chil­dren un­der five, so it’s a longterm goal for when my kids are all at school.

“I’ve lived in the Read­ing area for most of my life,” she adds. “As a fam­ily we are fans of the Na­tional Trust prop­er­ties, Clive­den and the Vyne, and coun­try parks like Din­ton Pas­tures. We are lucky to live near Woodford Park and have been there al­most ev­ery day dur­ing lock­down. There are some lovely craft shops too. The Hand­made Craft Com­pany at Holme Grange

Craft Vil­lage con­tains so many great hand­made prod­ucts, as does Ar­ti­sans Hand­made UK in Caver­sham. When we eat out, we love Cozze in Wood­ley and have been en­joy­ing their take­aways dur­ing lock­down. Nibsy’s in Read­ing is also a firm favourite for gluten-free wares.”

As Gemma works on in­creas­ing her sales and im­prov­ing her range – from coast­ers and trin­ket trays, to planters, clocks and can­dles – no doubt her dream of mak­ing an even big­ger suc­cess of her busi­ness will come true. Find Gemma on Etsy un­der the shop Gems Con­crete Gems and at con­cretegems.co.uk

‘Con­crete is so much more ver­sa­tile than peo­ple think’

ABOVE: Gemma was in­spired by a con­crete clock BE­LOW: Con­crete home­ware

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