Blog Gem - Bugs and Fishes

Hola! It's Blog Gem interview time and this month I'm super proud to be interviewing the incredibly talented lady behind the blog, Bugs and Fishes and the gorgeous shop, Lupin Handmade. So, without further ado, lets find out more!

Hello there! Who be the face behind the blog?
Hello! My name is Laura but here on the internet I'm often known as Lupin. 
I used to sell my handmade designs and lots of craft supplies through my shop and on Etsy but now I'm changing direction and focusing more on designing and writing. I love spending more of my time designing new, but it still feels a bit weird not going to the Post Office every other day with a big bag of parcels!
I write tutorials for books and magazines and I'm working on a range of PDF sewing patterns to sell via my shop. I've also written two books about felt crafting: Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals
I write about all my crafty adventures over on my blog, Bugs & Fishes. My blog is a bit like my crafty diary, but I also feature other designer/makers and share lots of free tutorials.
When I'm not busy making things - or writing about making things - I love going on Nice Days Out to explore the museums and historic houses in my local area. In the evenings I can usually be found curled up on the sofa doing some knitting or some simple sewing, and watching detective shows or a nice bit of sci fi. 

What is your creative space like? 
After years of running my business from my kitchen table, I've now got a room of my own to work in. I feel a bit pretentious calling it "my studio", so I usually refer to it as my office. 
I've got lots of shelves for all my supplies, books and paperwork, a desk by a big window, a pinboard covered in colourful inspirational things and a comfy daybed piled high with hand-knitted blankets and handmade cushions that I can sit on and sew. 
It's great having all my crafty supplies in one room and to be able to close the door on my work at the end of the day - especially if I'm in the middle of a project and have made a bit of a mess. I do try to be organised and to keep things tidy, but I don't always succeed!
If you had to take only one craft tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
A sewing kit - with needles, scissors and threads. This would come in handy for mending things if I was stuck on the island for a long time, and I could while away the hours by embroidering designs on leaves or threading shells together to make necklaces. 
How do you work and get inspired? 
Lots of my work-for-hire projects come with quite a fixed brief, so I spend some time brainstorming around that and then develop my best ideas into finished designs for my editors' approval. 
In my own work I find that one idea tends to spark another. Maya Angelou said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have" - I've definitely found this to be true! The more things I make, the more ideas pop into my head for new things to make... but sadly there are never enough hours in the day to make them all. 
What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog and running an online shop? 
Work hard and be nice to people! 
Get to know your camera so you can improve your photos. Be inspired by the success of others but don't copy them or their work, or use photos without permission. Take customer service seriously and never spam people. 
Read lots of advice (the internet is jam-packed with it these days) but always remember that what works for someone else isn't necessarily right for you, for your life, for your audience, or for your products. Use the advice to help your blog or shop be the best version of itself, not a copy of someone else's brand or an unfocused hotchpotch of things based on what you think you "should" be doing. 
Is there a story behind the name 'Bugs and Fishes'?
My blog is named after a zine (a homemade, photocopied magazine) I used to write when I was a teenager and a student... which was named after something a friend of mine used to write instead of "Hugs and Kisses". I've been writing things and "self-publishing" them under the title Bugs and Fishes for over half my life now - it doesn't really mean anything anymore, it's just a fun title which I hope is easy for people to spell and remember! 
And & tea or film & wine?
Book and tea, for sure. There is no such things as too much tea.
Thank you so much, Laura! It's been wonderful hearing all about your creative world! I love the sound of a daybed to sit and sew on and what great advice for those setting up an online business - read guides, work on your photography, be yourself, don't copy and be nice! And ooh that quote from Mary Angelou is fabulous! Thanks again, Laura!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Stay tuned for next month's interview from the other side of the world! That's right, we're getting all international at A&TP headquarters!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Laura Howard at Bugs and Fishes and Lupin Handmade. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.
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