Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Daily Gratitude Reflections for Perspective and Clear-Minded Productivity (Journaling)

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Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying: There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.


I don't know about you, but I live those words! In my experience, the "high" or happiness for each new experience and accomplishment is short-lived. No one plugs away at the daily tasks without problems. You will have strife whether you get what you've always wanted in life or not. No one is constantly ecstatically happy. Contentment takes effort. Daily gratitude reflection is an excellent way to work toward it.

When you're feeling constantly overwhelmed and unhappy sometimes reflection is needed.

Writing what you're grateful for daily helps you reflect on what you've accomplished rather than the never-ending to-dos in your life. When you just look at what you've yet to do, you can feel defeated. It's nice to change that up and look at your progress instead.

Writing what you're grateful for daily improves your mood and helps you look at your home and work environment with new eyes and a clear mind.


It's too easy to get wrapped up in all the things you WANT to do, feeling like what you've accomplished and the things we have aren't good enough. With social media we can too easily compare ourselves to everyone else instead of accepting where and who we are now with gratitude.

I dumped a bunch of gratitude in my notebook and feel refreshed and ready to work with improved perspective. I'm committing to writing things I'm grateful for every single day and if you're in the same currently-overwhelmed-by-life boat with me I highly recommend you join me!

What techniques or tricks do you use when life gets overwhelming to get back to center? This post + the gratitude journal reminder popped in my on a head-clearing neighborhood walk and I had to share it ASAP; just felt right! I hope you try it if you're having a tough time, too.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Renegade Craft Fair Miami Recap: Inspiring Artisans and Crafters from Around the U.S.

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Renegade Craft Fair started in 2003 as a midpoint between a traditional art market and a craft fair. They filled the niche perfectly and like their name implies they were true renegades for it!

I've followed Renegade Craft Fair faithfully since I first started blogging while working full-time in Cubicle Land as a writer back around '08 and I remember that craft life looking like an unattainable dream. Fast-forward to a couple a months ago, a few months into shop ownership and years into indie business ownership, I saw they were starting a fair in Miami. I paid the non-refundable application fee feeling like I was paying for a rejection letter. Seeing the acceptance e-mail was jubilant! The attendance was slow (it was the first Renegade in Miami, growth takes time) but I was excited to be there with amazing crafters and indie business owners! Although I was mostly tethered to my booth out of necessity, I took photos and tried to chat with every single vendor! Let's look and get inspired!


First of all the Renegade Branding was gorgeous! Loved the colors and patterns, the textures of the curtains and signage were unique and the staff kept us all watered, kombucha'd (yes, free kombucha! it was delicious! for those familiar with kombucha's probiotic goodness, it kept us all very regular too, ha-ha!) and fueled with lots of free kind bars, too.

Check-in was so chill and easy! So appreciated!

They also gave all vendors enamel pins we could wear letting visitors know we're vendors, temporary tattoos, stickers, and posters!


The first day a DJ booth was set up under one of the Renegade Craft Fair tents, the second day there was a portable DJ Van! So Miami Beach, to have a colorful start-up like this, what a smart idea in that party climate, right!?


I'll state now that not being able to buy just one little thing from each vendor SUCKED! That's the only thing I miss about office life, I could easily support small business with those earnings! But now I have to put all earnings into our growing business! Anyway, this one of a couple of high quality card and print vendors across from us.


Renegade allows vendors to split a booth for savings. I LOVED our booth mates and enjoyed starting at their BEAUTIFUL notebooks and getting to know them the whole time we were there. We're on the right. Why do we have no branding? Funny story, that! To summarize (although there are NO excuses in biz and this is all my fault, it's still a funny story, learn from my **** ups!): we left our sign and tables, I had a constant-cough cold, we got stranded in Miami when both car axils broke and car repairs cost more than we earned. All that said, look back on it all fondly, wouldn't trade it for the world. Will never leave my signs again ;)


Look at their clean beautiful set-up and illustrations! Love it! They're a collective that met at at school, I'm glad they're doing so well "young" in their business and I can see why the craft fair organizers set us up together, definitely some similarities in our label designs.


It sucks we left our sign but we made the best of it and tried to keep our tables varied and attractive.


There were a couple of food courts where the event was hosted in the famed Mana Wynwood Art District of Miami.


This one was at the back of the event. The backdrop of graffiti gave me some deja-vu comforting I've-been-here-before vibes. It looks a lot like my neighborhood :)


I loved this coffee truck's sleek black and white branding, even the workers kept to the color scheme.


And next to that, woah, the biggest food truck I've ever seen with beautiful reclaimed wood on the exterior.


There were many unique jewelry sellers at the event, looking back at my photos they outnumbered the rest of us.


And they had some of the most beautiful set-ups I've ever seen. I loved how they were laid our ready to be admired and purchase don all those tables.


There was a little bit of everything to take in and enjoy at Renegade! We're signed up for Renegade Craft Fair at Brooklyn Expo Center (aaah!) and I'm grateful the Miami event was slower, smaller, and intimate so I could take it all in before the craziness we're expecting for NYC! I hope the beautiful displays inspired you, I'm contemplating visiting the rest via video, they're all just to interesting not to look back on!
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April Business Review 2017: Living and Working Intensely for a Few Weeks. Worth it.

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I live striving to improve from the last project, feeling euphoric only when I know I put my all into it. Anxiety strikes when I didn't do the best I possibly could. Perfectionist woes! The past two weeks I finally did it, I worked like a well-focused herbalist-machine and now I'm so spent from it all I can barely move. Worth it. I think. Ha!



April was a big month for us because it was the anniversary of our Earth Day Market which was one of our earliest successes, we made over $500 in sales at the last one! That, combined with a showing with World-Class crafters at Renegade Craft Fair in Miami (I really expected a rejection letter!) made me want to revise my work and put my best out there.

The goals: (1) unify each of our lines (2) get caught up on product (3) give each line new labels to the best of my ability within the limited time frame.


I worked almost up to my deadline and made at least 40 label designs, some from scratch, in two weeks! Along with a variety of products! OH, and I have to stick all of those suckers on dozens of products by hand, of course! (My mom and boyfriend granted me mercy and helped me out on the last day.) It was crazy! The event was a whirlwind, and I made it through with the satisfaction of having gone the distance. I feel like Rocky after surviving all those rounds against Creed. I am Batman! That Saturday after my event I slept 14 hours to replenish that spent creative energy!


The theme for April was to learn to laser-focus. I was letting myself go in too many directions and was neglecting the most important tasks. Now I know I need to say "no" to a lot of people and projects and protect my energy. I'm going to focus on three income sources related to Body&Soul and this blog. This month I realized maintaining an online store, local store, and doing frequent traveling pop-up shops is ENOUGH. I can't teach or do freelance client work on top of that. I let everything else go to just focus on a main passion project and that was so much better.

Quick photo of the shop I took for the back of our new post cards. I've been slowly remodeling in here. Posts to come, of course!

Not that it was all sunshine and roses. It was stressful and riddled with anxiety. I wanted labels to hurry up and get designed faster but some processes you just can't rush. I thought those label designs were NEVER going to END! But at the end of it all the accomplishment was worth it. This comic by The Oatmeal describes my feelings on living UNHAPPILY, but with extremely purpose, perfectly. I'm tapped into my growth zone and it's hard but exhilarating. I particularly related to these words:

I work.
I work for twelve hours a day.

I work until I can't think straight 
and I forget to feed myself and the
light outside dims to a tired glow.

When I do these things,
I am not smiling or beaming with joy.

In truth, when I do these things,
I'm often suffering.

But I do them because I find them 
meaningful.

I find them compelling.

I do these things because I want to be 
tormented and challenged and interested.

I want to build things, and then break them.

I want to be busy and beautiful 
and brimming with
ten-thousand moving parts.

I want to hurt, so that I can heal.

I'm not unhappy.
I'm just busy.
I'm interested.

And that's ok.

In my happy AND unhappy place. Working.

Another similar video I connected with every word of was this one on realizing what your true purpose in life is. I have a HUGE variety of interests but creativity is what unites all of them, and with my new goals I get to exercise all of my interests: indie business, writing, PR, marketing, sales, herbalism, product formulation, design, photography, website creation, crafting, I use it all in this shop. I feel excited and proud that I "went the distance" this month...

...But fun free time was definitely sacrificed. I know I'm not caught-up yet and I still have more crazy catch-up work ahead to get where I want to be. But I know when I'm there I can start living a bit more like The Fisherman. I'm looking forward to structuring my life with intense work and equally intense breaks! (Breaks with study and exploration, of course!)

Now I'm looking forward to some uninterrupted bursts of writing! And non-label related work! How goes life with you lately?
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Market & Event Selling 101: How Do You Know You're Ready to Start? Let's Sell!

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Selling your wares at outdoor markets, expos, and events can take your business to the next level. I started "officially" selling my natural body care products around March 2015. We kept adding events and pop-up shops wherever people would let us; you have a spot, we have a table! This helped us grow our business from a traveling pop-up shop to having our own brick and mortar location! And we're not stopping our traveling herbal pop-ups anytime soon! It's a keystone for our business and we've gotten really good at it, learning the pitfalls and ups-and-downs the hard way the past couple of years.


In this series, Market and Event Selling 101, I want to share tips on how to be successful selling at markets.

First things first, how do you know you're ready to set up at one? It's not as hard as you may think. You don't need fancy signs, table cloths and dressing, props, labels or anything of the sort. You just need...

1) Product Made: Whatever you're selling needs to be done BEFORE you start. I know this sounds like a no-duh, but a lot of beginners (myself included, 10 years ago!) sign up for markets and then try to hustle to make products to sell quickly right up to the deadline! I've used markets as deadline makers, but only when my work is at least half-done and I know I have what I need to finish! Take your time, streamline your wares, whatever those may be, before even thinking of signing up. Take as long as you need.

2) Abundance of Products: Of course there are exceptions, like if you're at a book sale and just need to sell a few of your self-printed books at $50.00 each to make a profit, but in most cases, you need a lot of stuff on that table to do well! Do your inventory and make sure you have enough to make a profit after fees, gas, food, and all other expenses.

3) Basic Signage and Cards: You DON'T have to be fancy or expensive here. I've seen people do well with hand drawn signs on wood, chalkboard, etc. You can hand-write or stamp cards and those will work fine, just be sure to have both to take advantage of your event for marketing purposes.

An under-awning event (yay, no tent needed) we traveled 5 hours for! We made it compact for that purpose. You'll learn to switch things up depending on where you're setting up.

4) Newsletter Ready to Go: Markets are the #1 way we grow our newsletter list. Make a sheet so customers or would-be/future customers can sign up.

5) Basic Table and Cloth: All you need is one table and cloth to cover it to get started. If you're going to be in the sun a canopy tent or even an umbrella may be needed. If you can't afford a canopy some markets offer rentals, have extras, or have space under trees or awnings where you can set up so call and ask in advance for that information.

6) Optimism & Happiness: You may not sell a single thing your first time, in fact, that's pretty common! Each market is an opportunity to learn what people respond to, what they like and don't like. Don't go in looking to sell or looking at people simply as dollar signs. Just go in happy that you have an opportunity to put your wares out there. Take note of people's advice or how they respond and make real connections.

EDIT #7) Have Prices of Every Item on Your Table: Have signs with pricing for each item on your table and/or go the extra mile and also have them on your products. People don't like to ask for pricing and will sometimes just leave out of frustration if you don't have all prices clearly marked. Thanks for this important reminder in the comments everyone :)

These six tips I feel are all you need to start selling at outdoor markets, expos, and pop-up events. Of course it gets more detailed from here and we'll go into that in future posts. Do these events for the experience, learn and grow from it and improve each time! If you go with the expectation to sell out you'll be disappointed, go in only with the expectation to proudly display your best work and have fun and you'll be a success!

Any basics tips for beginners if you're a seller? What about advice for us sellers as frequent shoppers? Let's discuss in the comments!
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Biz Behind the Scenes: Collecting, Crafting, and Getting Caught Up + Re-Inspired

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March was a month of ups-and-downs for sure, mostly emotionally. But by the end we got through it and again I feel 100% inspired and ready to make like crazy; my favorite thing to do! I'm writing a little series on how I got through the hard shop start-up time. 'Til then, here's some behind-the-scenes of what I've been crafting and getting up to with business and life.



I'm back to vintage collecting! It's a blessing to look at vintage from the perspective of being a collector again. I'm hunting online and at few (VERY few, I don't let myself hunt too much, on an early-start-up budget) flea markets and yard sales for late 60s-70s groovy bits for my home and shop. I'll share some thrift hauls soon. (You can see a preview of it above with that gorgeous shag rug I scored!)


March was another busy season of markets and big store sales. I got backed up and stressed at some points but now I'm getting ahead and making the changes needed to keep my sanity. My new intern and employee are really helpful here, it's fun to work with my new age herb-loving co-workers! Tara, my new helper, is a talented artist, I'm looking forward to some chill drawing and crafting nights at the store!

Just a tiny smattering of our adorable customers from the store & at marketplaces.
With new helpers we're getting more sales and I'm getting more items on our Etsy shop

Speaking of markets, I'm excited that we got accepted into Renegade Craft Fair in Miami! I've admired the artisans in Renegade for years and I was thoroughly surprised to be accepted into a marketplace with some many polished, creative business owners. In my head I'm always thinking of my work needing improvement and not being good enough so it was a nice pinch of validation to get in, I was expecting a rejection e-mail. If you're in or near Miami come say "Hi" :)


All accomplishments aside, I let another month go by without many travels or tours of nature and that is going to stop now. (Although we did get to an orchid show and saw the amazing Shadaowland at the Florida Theatre.) We're scheduling time for trips this month even with more markets coming. It's one of my personal priorities to be OUT in the world and not just cooped up inside and I'm doing what it takes to make that happen this month.

*And speaking of vintage, if you sell vintage frocks and/or baskets in particular, but vintage anything from the 60s-70s please e-mail me or leave your link in the comments (a lot of readers are vintage shoppers) so I can browse your wares. Also please do let me know if you're interested in selling vintage clothes with me? I'm on the fence but I'm too exhausted to teach workshops at the moment (just being honest with myself, finally, haha) so I have more retail space to fill up and I'm passionate about vintage clothes. And I'm also looking for teachers for workshops (creative, holistic, anything, if you've got a workshop, I've got a room!) so hit me up if you're interested!

How as your March? April's already turning into a good one where we're sitting. I actively post behind-the-scenes peeks on Instagram here & here
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Friday, March 31, 2017

6 Basics Tips for Preserving Your Energy as a Creative Entrepreneur: Personal Care

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Do you ever feel like you can't do a single thing more with your work because your energy is depleted? Or worse, out of ideas? Have you ever found yourself unable to focus, instead clicking down the internet rabbit hole for hours? You may have accidentally depleted your well of creativity. Like any other part of your body it must be cared for and nourished. There are many techniques for healing creativity but I wanted to focus on the basics I've learned not to neglect the hard way during these busy start-up hour times for me!


1. Stay Well-Fed and Hydrated, make it a PRIORITY!

I cook my meals for the day ahead of time (simple one-pot stuff) and make sure I have enough for the work day when I leave. I have it pre-portioned so I can nibble every 2 hours to keep my metabolism (energy!) revved up. I drink lots of water between meals. As for sleep, I

2. Also make SLEEP a PRIORITY!

I open my store at 1pm so I can SLEEP as late as I want. I also keep my phone far away in the living room so it can't wake me, NO call is so important that it should interrupt my sleep. The emergency will still be there when I wake up! As someone with anxiety-related sleep issues (I'm learning my nervous system is hyperactive so when I have something exciting coming up the next day I won't sleep and adrenaline will keep me running full speed for a while the next day, aah!) I know the study that hypothesizes lack of sleep impairment is on par with being drunk is true! I have certainly been so tired that doing normal things like standing and tying my shoe laces is challenging. Protect your sleep, don't work into the night, you will be more productive because you will have been coordination and cognitive function the next day!

Kawaii little lunches throughout the day, balanced carb/fruit/protein ratio, thanks personal trainer boyfriend for making me keep that in mind >:P haha

3. Use Your Intuition and SAY NO, if Something Feels Remotely Wrong, Don't Do It

When you run a successful creative business people will come asking for things left and right. This is good, it shows you're growing and getting yourself out there. Creative can be kind and sensitive making it hard to say No, myself included. But I've learned to protect my energy, we have a finite amount, you cannot say yes to everyone and every opportunity. Protect your energy first and foremost, if you want to do something but a voice somewhere is saying it's a bad idea, just DON'T.

4. Stick as strictly to your work hours as possible

This one is hard! Sometimes you have a deadline and have NO choice but to work. Other times you're so crazy inspired you're tempted to use that creative energy and go with the flow. I urge you though to just write down the inspiration and to-dos it requires and get to it the next work day. There's lots of evidence to suggest humans work better in shorter, harder creative bursts. Stick to your work hours so you can make time for the next important energy-regenerator.

My retreat in the treeees, I can't wait to get back to The Hostel in the Forest every the moment I leave it. 

5. Schedule lots of fun trips, outdoor time, and recharging time with friends

Creatives recharge with outside stimuli and new adventures. Schedule something new and fun at LEAST weekly. It could a new local museum show, a road trip, whatever it is, go enjoy it and get that creative energy recharged!

6. Exercise, move 'til you sweat daily

I HATE the gym I will confess. Dragging myself there sucks. There first 10 minutes or so sucks.  But you get an energy rush that'll last all day and feel SO much better when you get it over with. The endorphins give you a creative high! Plus, it just makes you feel healthier and more accomplished overall. Switch it up to keep your easily-bored ADD brain happy. I do weight lifting, cycling, yoga (when I wake up early enough!) calisthenics, jogging and even some basketball. The first couple months of the shop opening I worked too much and didn't hit the gym and I definitely felt that decrease in energy, do it to keep that circulation going and keep it fun!

* * * 
All of this may seem like common sense for non workaholics but it's always nice to have a reminder. The 5 tips above are your bare bones essentials for keeping your creative energy going strong. Of course expect more specific and detailed exercises in the future!

I'm sure I left out plenty of basics, do you have anything to share on how you preserve your creative energy and stay inspired and productive? Do let me know in the comments.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Herbs 101: How to Use Your Loose-Leaf Herbs for Healing + As Medicine + For Fun

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Here I am writing from my dream shop and I have a dream-wall of herbs to the right of me exactly as I imagined them, plus more on the way! I have a few regulars who come and buy herbs for healing at home. These well-researched visitors don't think beyond tea, so store visitors without herb-knowledge are completely clueless. I didn't realize building my "wall" would result in constantly hearing, "So what is all that, is that tea? What do you do with those? What is this place?! Are you a witch?!" 





Tea?! No, my children! Use your...IMAGINATION!


There's an astounding array of ways to use your powdered and loose-leaf herbs! More than I learned after 2 years getting certified on clinical herbalism and from a lifetime of tinkering with them! I'll be experimenting with ways to use them for a lifetime, but here are my favorite ways to use your herbs as plant medicine (and fun!) as of now: (Listen to this as you read!)


Healing Edibles
1. Powdered: grind, stir 1/2 tsp (to start) into water & drink
2. Syrup: Cook into syrup, cold/cough fighter + supplement
3. Tea Blend: Get creative and mix and match for flavor profile & medicinal benefit
4. Spice Blend: Powdered or not, again, mix & match for a blend that heals and flavors beautifully
5. Fermented: Ferment an herbal tea blend for a probiotic & healing herb boost
6. Edible Herb Oil: Infuse herb into oil for flavor and internal healing
7. Electuary: Stuff your local honey with herbs, the constituents go into the honey, take as needed
8. Herbal Vinegar: Stuff your vinegar with herbs and use for a daily health boost
9. Bitters: Herb infused alcohol. Flavor drinks/coffees + as medicine. Mine are a best-seller.
10. Soup Mix: use herbs as your base for a soup mix, yummy and healing.
11. Root Beer: Root beer was originally made from sarsaparilla to heal tummy troubles. Play and make different fun blends that heal with herb roots and parts!

Just some of my herbs are on Etsy, I'm adding more to Etsy and my local shop all the time.

Skin Healing
12. Poultice: A maceration of herb applied directly to a wound to heal or pull out poison
13. Face Scrub: Make a blend that's skin-healing, rub it on yo face!
14. Face Mask: Mix a blend with a mud mask
15. Herb Oil: Infuse your herb in oil, the oil absorbs the constituents, put the oil on the skin for healing
16.  Lotion: Use the herb oil in your lotion recipe for extra skin-healing lotion
17. Hydrosol: Collecting the herb vapor, higher level stuff, but the result is very healing herb water

Wound Healing & Medicine
18. Salves / Balms: Infuse your herb into your oil, blend with wax to make your salve or balm
19. Tincture: Infuse your herbs in a base of alcohol, glycerine or vinegar, take by dropper as needed
20. Pills: Grind your herbs and put inside capsules
21. Bath Salts: Add herbs to epsom salts (calming) you absorb the constituents through your skin!
22. Decoction: When you boil rather than gently infused your "tea" blend, reserved for the tougher plant parks like barks and roots


My joke with customers is that they can take red pill with me and see how deep the rabbit hole goes by signing up for my classes. You can add essential oils to these mixes to compound them, combine the methods to make new substances, there's so much you can do with herbs! As evidenced by my serial career and hobby hopping I'm a creative busy-brain that thrives needs new stimuli and creativity to thrive and in this career I have boundless ways to play with plants to make beautiful healing goodies. Add that left-brain research to the right-brain label and packaging design aspect and my mind is happily and well-fed.

Playing with herbs can be a hobby, a way to keep your family healthy, a way to restore your health and energy, whatever you want it to be. And it's a hell of a lot more than just tea! I hope you'll take the red pill with me as I share tips and tricks on how to use the over the coming months.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Simple Zodiac Choker DIY: An Elegant, Simple Design for Everyday Wear or Gifting

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I made it a resolution to do as much crafting as possible outside of work, but crafting for work is so fun I haven't let myself do any personal crafting yet! So instead of a for-home craft (those will come) I'm sharing something I really enjoyed making to sell at my local shop at while traveling at expos and outdoor markets and event: zodiac chokers!


I bought the zodiac sign charms on a whim, I'd fallen in love with the 70s style images on each one and finally had a vision for how to use them. It's so easy to make similar charm-chokers of your own.


Materials: Charms, Jump Hoops if charms don't have them, Faux Leather Cord, Jewelry Pliers



You charms may come equipped with jump hoops, mine did not. Hopefully you're just hooking one jump hoop on to your charm. If you're making these as merchandise like me you may spend over 12 hours WITH the help of a paid employee to get 'em hooped, haha! (So worth it, though!) (I have a tutorial on how to close a jump hoop here.)


String your charm onto your cord.


 Then tie the ends! You can get creative here and glue beads, add extra charms to ends, whatever you like! I wanted to keep mine minimal and let the charms really shine and just closed mine with knots.


One of my favorite parts of making new merchandise is designing the packaging! This is the live view of my desk right now, I'm taking a break to wrap some of these up between working on websites then fitting them neatly in their protective plastic sleeves. I can't wait to premier them at our outdoor market tomorrow but you can see them on Etsy too!

These look really good on, go with many outfits and they make excellent customizable gifts for friends, too.
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