Cath, also known by the handle @cupsandthoughts, is a book blogger and influencer from Perth, Western Australia. Currently in her third year of university studying Environmental Engineering, she is a profile to watch! We recently sat down for a proverbial cup of tea, to discuss her origins, what it’s like to see a brand blossom over time, and the subtle marriage between creativity and productivity!
What are the inspirations behind the names and branding?
“Bookishsmaug (my first username) began with my obsession for the dragon Smaug from the Hobbit — despite never having watched the movie before! I just loved the clip where Benedict Cumberbatch was acting out Smaug!). I had zero intentions of becoming a book blogger, and started solely for the fact that I can interact with other bookworms about books!”
Do you consider yourself an influencer in the traditional sense?
“In the traditional sense, perhaps! Most of the time though I just talk about a book or product I genuinely love, and people message me telling me that they love it, after hearing it from me (which is so rewarding!).”
What’s the process been like working alongside brands, and publishers?
“Really fun and rewarding! I love being able to do what I love, and also get paid for it. It’s not as glamorous as it looks though — some brands can be quite strict with their campaigns, and sometimes misunderstandings occur, which can make you feel terrible. But you learn along the way and build great relationships with people!”
What are the creative and artistic considerations you implement for your content?
“Full, yet minimal — if that makes any sense, haha! I like to have a neat shot with things that fill up the photo frame. It just feels so satisfying!”
What came first, the blog or the instagram? When did you realise it was bigger than expected?
“Instagram! I definitely did not expect to reach over 5k followers ever. That’s when I realised I could make use of my platform for bigger things, like encouraging people to journal and read! This was also around when I was looking for a bigger platform to write on (hence the birth of my blog!)”
How has your content been affected with the current Crisis?
“My content has always revolved around being productive (mostly at home, on my desk), so it hasn’t really changed much. I think it’s more powerful now, more than ever. I’ve also uploaded a blog post on staying productive at home, which would be something I’d write about, despite the current Crisis!”
How has your interaction with the book community grown?
“As my account grows, more publishers and readers have reached out to me, whether it be about promoting a book or discussing one! I think it’s grown quite gradually since I first started — and it may be because I’m genuinely passionate about reading, and it shows in my posts!”
Has your brand, Cupsandthoughts, ever felt more than just a hobby? Would you make a career out of your critique and content?
“Its felt more than a hobby in an ‘influencer’ sense. I’m very happy to be making a little bit of money on the side through my platform, but I don’t think I’ll ever make a brand out of it. It’s too personal to me, and I’d love to keep it that way!”
Have you considered bridging into other mediums, such as Youtube?
“I’ve definitely considered YouTube! Though YouTube feels a bit more public to me, and the process of producing content on YouTube would take way more time from my already hectic university schedule! I’m hoping I can bring myself to go for it soon, though.”
How have you balanced instagram, university, and your wellbeing during your success?
“People think I have it all under control, when really it’s been quite difficult (and not as smooth as it looks). During my second year of university, I’ve been running on 4-5 hours of sleep daily, attending classes in the morning, working on my assignments in between breaks, coming home to finish a bit more work, then making content after. I also had a part-time job back then, so I was even doing readings during short commutes. At the end of that semester I was totally burned out, and I realised (after seeing my grades and mental state) that I was just not prioritising right.
I think the best way to balance everything is to be realistic and also breaking ties with anything that pulls you down. I enjoyed my classes, but I could not focus/do well because my part-time job has literally been draining the life out of me, so I made the difficult decision of quitting. This isn’t something I would normally do (or tell people), but I was lucky enough to be earning from @cupsandthoughts to be able to make this decision, and ultimately it was the best choice I’ve made.
Now I’ve established my priorities (university and blog), both of which I enjoy and can therefore work on with a better state of mind. This lead to a much more improved mental wellbeing! So in short — prioritise, and also plan! More meaningful priorities = efficient planning!”
What advice, or techniques, would you give curious creatives in starting up a brand during Crisis, and maintaining a sense of productivity in our current climate?
“Just go for it! Anyone who wants to start a brand normally wants to ‘wait for the right time’, but there’s no better time to do it than now! I didn’t even have the intention to grow my account to over 5k followers, let alone run an instagram page with more than 100k followers, and working alongside brands! You never know what the world holds for you! As long as you are passionate (and it shows), you’ll get anywhere you want!”
Cath’s style and inspirations come straight out of a storybook, with vivid imagery that could fill a Pinterest board, her content brings smiles to your face. Her instagram is an escape, and there’s many profiles out there, if you only turn the right page.
If you’d like to learn more about Cath, and keep up to date with her adventures, you can find her at www.cupsandthoughts.com.
by JOSHUA HALL HAINES
Editor-in-Chief of The Independent Press Co.