These two guys taught themselves to make furniture & decor pieces, quit their jobs and now have their own design business. Meet: GRYS.

The story of Grys

So let me start off by saying we are no writers, neither are we business tycoons that are trying to give business advice to anyone, these are just our thoughts that we want to put into words and maybe inspire one person out there reading this.

Grys.; for those of you who don’t know, is a home décor brand and interior design company that myself and Wayne Hayward started in August 2018. The idea came to us when we wanted to transform a normal wooden dining room table into one with a concrete top. After weeks of research and countless industry experts telling us it’s not advisable to pour cement onto wood and expect it to stick, we bought a bag of cement and off we went.

Without any ‘real’ knowledge of cement or the cement: sand:water ratio, we poured a 50kg bag of cement and started mixing it with water (can I also just add that we had no form of mixer, except our hands and arms as it would turn out later). Long story short, after hours of mixing, we had a mixture of concrete and we poured it onto the tabletop.

At this point, we also had no idea that we weren’t suppose to let the cement cure in direct sunlight or that we were suppose to keep the cement moist with water. Either way, a couple of hours later, the cement seemed hard and we carried the table inside the house.

Very impressed with the outcome, we waiting another couple of days before we started to use our one of a kind table.

At the time of this craft project, I was still employed. I was as happy as one could be in a job and industry that isn’t your real passion, yet my 7 years of studying had steered me into this position. Please don’t get me wrong, although I had days (most of them) where I just wanted to pack my back and never go back to the office, I was always grateful for a job, career and income which meant I could pay my bills at the end of the month. However, without going into too much detail as it’s not the point of the story, my security of paying bills came to an end in May 2018.

So back  to Grys...

One night, Wayne and I sat on the couch and we chatted about travelling abroad and how we could afford this, without going into debt. I suggested, why not start a business/hobby on the side and every cent we make from it, we save up for our next trip. So the thinking started and with our beautiful concrete dining room table staring at us, doing something with concrete, was the obvious choice. We started throwing ideas around and decided on making concrete serving platter/cheese boards. You might think to yourself how is this possible, how will this practically work and what will it look like. Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say. Again, after weeks of research, creating molds, testing different cement types, trying out different ratios, we got the winning formula. We actually had a product that looked beautiful, did not crack and did not break when slightly touched. So the sales and marketing began for our products and brand.

Throughout the process of manufacturing, selling and marketing our products, I decided that this is what I wanted to do full time. Believe me, this decision wasn’t a financial one. Yes, we sold the odd product here and there, but nothing close enough to sustain me financially every month. Luckily for me, Wayne was and still is employed full time as an Accountant.

So we started off by going to gift markets over weekends, thinking we would be rich by the end of it. How wrong we were. Our first market turned out ok, with friends and family members supporting us. The second market we sold one product and the third (which would also be our last) we sold zero. Very upset, we phoned our moms and asked them why everyone was lying to us, by telling us our products are beautiful, yet the sales leading up to that point proved the opposite. As mentioned, we stopped with the markets and decided to try different selling techniques.

Not to keep you reading for hours, we can now proudly say that we didn’t give up and with a lot of trial and error we are now selling our products on Hello Pretty, Takealot and our own online shop. With negotiations with a couple of other leading online shops and retailers.

The moral of the story is a cliché, if you have a passion for something, try and fail, try again and possibly fail again, however need stop trying. If one technique, regardless of manufacturing, marketing or sales doesn’t work, move on to the next one until you find THE ONE. And even then you will have days where you want to stay in bed (and that’s ok, I’ve done it once or twice), but tomorrow wake up, dress up and continue to work towards your end goal. We all have different end goals for starting a business, whichever it is just continue.

We started off with a crazy home DIY idea; today we have 15 products and working on expanding to different products and mediums.

This blog post is one in Hello Pretty's guest blog series. Each post is written by a person who is running their online store though South Africa's favourite art, design & craft marketplace.

If you'd like to more view guest posts in this series, and other posts where we interview local businesses, click here.

Wanna write a guest post on Hello Pretty? Email us at to find out more.

The PPC Imaginarium Awards 2016

When I think of concrete, I think of building sites and dirt. The PPC Imaginarium competition has however brought new light to the beautiful possibilies concrete offers, through their design awards programme. By showcasing different pieces made from concrete from many designers, it's clear just how much can be done with this material.

This programme is focused on encouraging talented designers in South Africa, and a better challenge cannot be thought of. There are six creative categories which the judges look at; Industrial Design, Jewellery, Film, Sculpture, Architecture and Fashion.

The winners of the awards were announced at the PPC Imaginarium finalist exhibition at Youngblood Africa, Cape Town, last week Thursday (4 February). The winner of each category received R50 000 and the runner-up received R15 000. Have a look at their website or their Facebook page.

The pieces are simply amazing; who knew you could make such cool things with concrete?

The artworks featured are by: 

First photo: Mieke Vermeulen 
Second photo: Hester Erasmus 
Third photo: Janna Kruger 
Fourth photo: Nkhensani Rihlampfu
Fifth photo: Gordon Froud 

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