A beautiful part of the local maker scene is that it is ever changing and always inviting. Long time friends and business partners Kelly Karwoski and Sarah Hudson of Geo Germain are bringing their concrete creations to the table. Taking a common and industrial material and transforming it into beautiful and functional pieces. Thier point of view feels modern and exciting. Starting in 2015 Geo Germain is an amazing addition to the final Maker Market at Colectivo. These fresh faces took some time to talk Geo Germain and their blossoming business.
Maker Market: How and when did Geo Germain get started?
Geo Germain: We have been friends since we were 14, and creativity was always a part of that, whether we were cooking, making jewelry, or taking floral arrangement classes together. After graduating college and working full time desk jobs, it became clear that we needed a creative outlet. We opened a bottle of wine and started planning in early 2015, and knew we wanted to involve succulents and flowers in our work while incorporating unique designs. We had our first show in May of 2015.
MM: What is the inspiration behind the name?
GG: Sarah’s grandpa George Hudson was an artist and professional sign painter in Milwaukee, most notably painting Robert Indiana’s design on the Buck’s floor at the MECCA in 1977. His artist signature was Geo Hudson, and geo also meaning “of the earth” made it a natural fit. Kelly’s family has deep roots in St. Germain, Wisconsin, where she spends many days fishing and beating the locals at cribbage.
MM: How did concrete become your medium? Is it a complicated material to work with?
GG: Concrete was always a medium we wanted to work with. You can make it into anything you want. We liked the idea of a long-lasting planter, and the contrast of a tough material like concrete with the delicate nature of a plant. There are many types of concrete, and we did experiment with different recipes until we found one that we liked. It is a tedious process to wait for the finished product to cure, and of course it can be messy. Kelly’s basement is proven fact of this!
MM: Can you describe your process from concept to completion?
GG: Initially, we used what we could find for molds. We spent a lot of time at thrift stores and rummages to find a good mix of materials that would work. After making our first round of tiny Lost Lake planters, we found that some bottles we had purchased along the way fit perfectly into the mini castings. The tiny vases are now one of our favorite pieces, and a great alternative for our customers who are wary of keeping live plants. We recently started learning how to make our own custom molds. The designs are first sculpted out of clay, and then we create the molds using silicone. We have made concrete beads for our terrariums to add more of our personality to them, and are excited to expand into different items that incorporate just concrete or add a space for a plant to an everyday item.
MM: Why do you think having greenery in your home or office is important?
GG: The great thing about succulents is that they are low maintenance, yet they add an element of the outside to places you wouldn’t expect. Having something that is constantly changing and growing throughout the year can make your living/working space more inviting.
MM: How has Milwaukee treated you as a fresh face in the market scene?
GG: We’ve had nothing but great responses from our fellow Milwaukeeans. People like the idea that they can purchase something locally made and add a bit of green in a ready-to-go package. It makes us excited to keep growing, evolving, and keep impressing all the dads that we cast concrete and carry it all ourselves.
MM: What can shoppers expect to see from you at the upcoming Maker Market?
GG: Our succulents are in full force with the beautiful weather, we will have some unique plants in our classic planters. Featured on some of our terrariums will be our new concrete beads, along with a few new types of air plants.
MM: Are you working on anything new and exciting? Any sneak peeks on new product?
GG: We are perfecting our mold-making skills and our goal is to have a few new items before winter. Some of the molds that we have in the works are concrete business card holders, dishes, antlers…. you’ll have to stay tuned to our Instagram to see what else we are working on. This week our first wedding favor order is being picked up, which we are extremely excited about.
MM: What is currently inspiring you? Ig accounts? Books? Music? Artists?
GG: Kelly spent a large portion of the summer in Northern Wisconsin. There she met her current inspiration in a 72 year old woman who creates wool latch hookings out of donated shirts – a skill taught to her by her great grandmother. Sarah recently moved and has been building her maker space in her home, which was brought her a lot of inspiration. The one thing that inspires both of us is the strong group of women who own Milwaukee area businesses. The dedication, support and creativity is unbeatable and pushes us to keep going.