When I came up with the idea of this Crafty Critters series, Kim from Finest Imaginary was one of the first people I thought of. She shares lots of photos of her gorgeous pets on instagram and I was always showing my boyfriend photos of her dog Scout! I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to interview Kim, but I'm glad I held off because just before Christmas she welcomed a new pup into her family called Luna.
Read all about Kim, her two businesses and her house full of pets below...
You're a web developer/designer alongside running your own jewellery/homewares/accessories business Finest Imaginary. How do you balance your two creative outlets and avoid creative burnout?
It can be really difficult to find a balance sometimes, especially if I’m having crazy busy times in both businesses, and I’m constantly learning & changing the way I work. Being really flexible helps, and cutting myself a little slack if I don’t get all my tasks done in a day. I’ve learnt to prioritise really well - bumping not so important tasks to the next week (or getting rid of them entirely!). It also helps that I work with mainly entrepreneurs or other creative people, who are also up against it most of the time, and willing to be really flexible. I’m a fan of “loose deadlines” as opposed to strict ones, and that’s something I talk to my clients about!
I’ve been in that horrible burnout place a few times in the past, mainly when I was just starting out freelancing. The way I avoid it now is to stop working at 5.30pm, have weekends off, and get to the gym! Walking really helps me too, I walk my dogs for almost 2 hours each day! Actually taking time off work makes you so much more productive when you’re back at your desk!
Your pets Scout, Luna, Pumpkin and Bramble are all so cute and very photogenic! Can you tell us the story of how you found each other?
Ahh! My girl gang!
Pumpkin & Bramble are sisters. They’re from an accidental litter from a Norwegian Forest Cat mum, and a local tom cat. We adopted them back in 2009 when we bought our first home! They’re indoor cats because I’m an over-protective cat mum & we live next to a busy road.
We’d wanted a dog for a long while, but with both me and my boyfriend (Adam) working 9-5 it just wasn’t feasible. When I started working from home, the idea of a dog started to look more doable! Once I was sure this working for myself gig was going well, we welcomed Scout into our home. She was a difficult puppy, in fact she was really poorly for a while (she’d somehow picked up campylobacter, most likely from eating something in the garden as puppies do!) so we were stressed out for the first few months. We soon got the hang of dog ownership though!
We started looking for a second dog last summer. We wanted another golden retriever, and ideally wanted a rescue or take on a “get rid of”. I looked on adoption sites Many Tears, Dogs Trust, gumtree, various golden retriever rescue facebook groups and pets4homes every single day. On the 16th of December a little girl came up, I saw her advert at lunch time (someone was needing to rehome her as their dominant bitch was being mean), and by 4pm she was in the car coming home with us! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Adam more stressed out! We only took a little while to figure out her new name, and Luna has settled in perfectly.
You rehomed Luna just before Christmas 2016. Has Scout been helping you train her?
Actually, yes! Scout’s been teaching Luna learn how to play like a nice dog, rather than being overly aggressive. She’s also been helping Luna learn how to walk to heal (sometimes they’re on a dual lead). Mostly, though, Luna’s training has been down to us humans.
I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement training, that’s rewarding good behaviour (with treats, a clicker, kibble, or just fussing) and distracting/ignoring bad behaviour. Luna’s also crate trained, which helps for toilet training in the early months (though we don’t crate Scout anymore, and will be transitioning Luna out of her crate at around 9 months). So far Luna’s learnt “sit”, “down”, “crawl”, “back it up”, “stand” and “wait”. We’re working on “stay” right now!
What do you love most about living in Yorkshire? I really enjoy seeing your walking photos. I suppose having the dogs encourages you to go out and explore more than you otherwise might.
I always feel incredibly lucky to live where I do. I’m actually in a relatively big town called Huddersfield, but we’re just on the edge of some fabulous walking places. It’s ridiculously cheap to live up here (compared to the South), which is always a bonus.
Walking is one of our favourite pastimes - a couple of years ago we walked across Hadrian’s wall with Scout! Having dogs is definitely something that pushed us into that, would you believe that I hadn’t really done much walking before the summer of 2014? Then by May 2015 we were doing Hadrian’s wall! I’m also a huge fan of camping now, but aside from festivals I hadn’t even camped until 2015. I 100% blame Scout for my late blooming love of the outdoors.
You previously worked at a web development agency. Is that where you learnt all of your web-based wizardry or did you study outside of work hours too? What made you take the leap and go freelance?
I did a degree in art at university, and in my spare time I started tinkering with websites. I’m completely self-taught with web stuff. I once spent a very chilly Saturday in my final year of university at Manchester building my first Wordpress site! The skills I taught myself then were what got me the job at the web agency.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t really see my career progressing any further there, and I really wanted more flexibility with Finest Imaginary, so I made the leap to freelance in 2011!
I love your #scoutcarriesthings series. How did that start and will we be seeing a #lunacarriesthings some time soon?!
Haha! That started because Scout always loves to carry something. Anything! In fact, if you’re carrying something while walking her, she’ll try and take it out of your hand. I started taking photos of the random things she was carrying. I haven’t done one in a while, I must start that up again!
So far, Luna’s only managed to carry a stick. Maybe she’ll have a different talent? Right now it’s #lunaweesonthings!
Your acrylic jewellery range is stunning and some of your pieces (the necklaces in particular) are incredibly intricate. Can you explain a little about your process of designing these from the initial idea to the final piece?
I usually start in a sketch book, although sometimes I start straight in Illustrator. I like to use reference images for some of my animals, mainly to get proportions correct, but other designs (such as my Palm Springs range) are based on a general “idea” of a place and then drawn up. Once I’ve done a rough sketch I’ll redraw the image in Illustrator (either vector tracing a scan, or simply working up the idea as a vector). The vector image from illustrator is then split into its laserable layers. I spend quite a bit of time figuring out which layers will work best for the piece, and how they’ll work nicely as a finished piece of jewellery. Once the layers are split, I’ll transfer them to the laser software I use, and do some test pieces! The final piece of jewellery usually takes a few tweaks, sometimes sizing can be an issue, but that’s all pretty quick to do!
While I’m designing I’ll always have in mind how the piece will work as a necklace or a brooch. I tend to make pendant style necklaces rather than multi-piece, but creating necklaces from joined together bits is something I want to do more of in 2017.
Who are some of your favourite instagrammers who share photos of their creative practice and their pets?
I have a long list including Nikki Mcwilliams, Oh No Rachio, Pup Tart, helloDODO (who recently adopted Hero the pug!), Holly Booth, Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, Sunshine Jo, & Claireabellemakes, some of whom I know you’ve featured in this series already!
I love learning more about other's creative businesses so thanks to Kim for the chat. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Luna and of course Scout, Pumpkin and Bramble in Kim's feed this year. Catch up with what they're up to on her instagram and visit her websites - Finest Imaginary and Kim Lawler Creative. Next month I'll be chatting to Claireabellemakes about her creativity and her fluffy cat Tammy!
If you enjoyed this post you might like to read the other interviews in the series! Got a recommendation for a future Crafty Critters interview? Let me know on instagram, I'm @zabbyallen or use the form on my contact page!
All photos are courtesy of Kim's instagram except the last three which are Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, helloDODO and Claireabelle Makes (links above).