Not another beautiful, fierce and mesmerising woman. No, surely not?! Talking to Gem, I can’t help but seriously consider how Mark and Andrew have done it. Do they just have a sense for the truly wholesome person or does the truly wholesome person have a sense for them? Either way, it’s pretty extraordinary.
It’s the first day of the second lockdown, I’m freaking out about anything and everything, I video call Gem and the moment her face comes into focus, all that anxiety melts away somehow. Gem has a lightness and calmness about her. It all washes over her like the marl blue of the Martha cardigan, like the ocean she lives by. She is going to be locked down for 4 weeks with a clinging two-year-old boy, a not-yet-born but now very sizeable baby girl literally growing inside of her and Stella, her three year old, but highly emotional Cavapooh. She shrugs: Gem’s partner goes away for months at a time for work so fending for herself, her family and her household is nothing new; ‘I’m pretty independent’ she says. Yes, yes you are Gem. Oh yeah, and there’s her job!
Gem does have her sister and her sister has Gem. Both of them work, have children, dogs and partners that work on super yachts so I guess that puts them in the same boat. Like Mark and Andrew, they do life together. In fact, life would be impossible without the other.
Gem and her partner travelled the world on yachts for 8 years before she chose to move back to the UK and live close by her sister in Brixham - the place they would always sail with their parents when they were little. Like Lynne, Gem left school, left home and went straight into fashion at 16. She moved to London, finished her A levels and got onto a retail management course with Arcadia. The head office of Arcadia was shiny and buying and merchandising was certainly interesting but something bigger was beckoning her back: the ocean. If you know, you know. She needed to live her life outdoors.
Today, Gem is on dog duty, looking after Dexter who is her sisters Weimaraner (I’m learning so much about babies and dogs). He is a beautiful guy, but boy, he can bark (as I learn during our whatsapp video). I also learn from Gem that he is the only dog that seems to be acutely aware of her pregnancy and has a newfound goal of protecting both her and the unborn child. It sounds heroic but it’s a little embarrassing when you can’t walk down the street without Dexter barking the brains out of every passer-by, friend or neighbour. On the plus side, when Gem needs a sausage bap and a chocolate éclair for second breakfast, with Dexter around, no one is going to stand in her way! I mean, woe betide anyone that gets between any pregnant lady and her pastry: you’ll have Dexter to deal with.
What Gem is going to miss this month is going into the Dartmouth store two days a week. She wanted to work right up to her due date - end of December - if you want to put it in your diary. Oh, but no flowers or wine please; Gem would be much happier with a crate of IPA’s, the new Jam fleece (I mean, who doesn’t want that fleece!?) and a days childcare if you are offering. Up until now, Thursdays and Saturdays would be the days Gem would drop Nate off in child-care and she would get the boat across to Dartmouth. She steps onto the boat and she’s on Jam – time, her time; everything else is left behind. She loves being in the Dartmouth store. Working for Jam actually makes her a better mum she says. It is also important for her that her kids see a parent working day to day.
So what does Gem do for Jam? Well, like everyone else at Jam, a little bit of everything. Outside of working in Dartmouth she has taken on a new role of managing our PR. Gem has a way with people so it’s no wonder the family have thrown her head first into the public relations pond, she’d never done it before but she’s already crushing it.
Everyone agrees Gem is a very cool mum. She works, she plays; a crying child will not encumber her, her style or her social life. She guards time for herself so she can be her best self. Her enormous capacity to care and to love makes her an incredibly loyal and good friend and amazing person to work with. She most certainly is the gem at Jam and we are most fortunate she dedicates the time that she does keeping us all calm and leaving everyone she talks to smiling. If she’s not the billboard for the work / life / balance / mum and all round legend, then I don’t know what is.