Our Blog

pinkflowers

As promised, I am going to summarize my move from Blogger to WordPress.org. To make it more interesting and to capture my feelings along with the technical aspects, I wrote it as if I kept a diary throughout the process. Clever, huh?

Here it goes.

Day -7

Dear Diary,

I am so excited to move to WordPress.org. I am finally taking Pete, Tim, and Kaitlyn’s advice and making the move. The best part is that I will be able to make more changes to my site, use categories and a navigation bar rather than just tags, and have more flexibility with photos. Now that I found the Premium Template that I love from Woo Themes for only $70, I will get to have a unique site with just some minor changes in the template code. No biggie.

And I am lucky that Tim is offering to help me do the switch. My biggest worry: that the posts, pictures, and comments from the Blogger site might not be easy to get onto the WordPress.org blog. But either way, I need to make the move.

premiumtemplate

Day 1: Launch

Dear Diary,

Today I met with Tim and he helped me with the tricky parts; redirecting my makeundermylife.com address from Blogger to the new WordPress.org. He also set up my blog on his server (so nice of him). And he figured out how to move the content, pictures, and comments from Blogger to WordPress.org without a problem. The only glitch is that he told me I need to reload the images from the old blog onto the new one because eventually Blogger will shut down my old photos and the links/images will disappear on WordPress.org. He might be right, but I am too lazy to go reload hundreds of pictures.

Other than moving content, I also downloaded the Woo Theme Template. I started to mess around with the code but it was much trickier than I expected (so many sheets, style sheets, and phps (what is a php??)). I managed to change two fonts out of the entire template CSS style sheet by myself. There is a terrible black hover color on my navigation page that drives me nuts. I thought the support forum would be really helpful at making my changes but even the questions asked on the forum are over my head, let alone the answers.

I am going to take the night off and work on this in the morning. I will stay in tomorrow night too, and learn my way around the template code. The template I picked was good, but it’s far from finished.

Day 2

Dear Diary,

So I have now spent half a dozen hours combing the forums and support areas on Woo Themes to learn how to make the changes. I finally realized that some of the major, important changes I want to make on the site have to be edited locally, on my computer and reloaded with FTP. I am fine with editing php files and css files on my Word Press dashboard, but using FTP to find the files on the server and changing them… officially over my head. It is time to call in a professional and stop worrying about this myself. Definitely not a happy camper today.

Day 5

Dear Diary,

The past few days I have been avoiding the new blog and posting as usual on the Blogger site. I have been asking around for advice on good and affordable web designers that can help me with me troubles. But so far, none have seemed like the right fit. Deep down I know this is the right move to make, but this transition has not been pleasant.

ohbrooke

Day 7

Dear Diary,

Today I came across a great new blog, Oh Brooke. When reading about Brooke, I noticed she is also a web designer. So I emailed her and asked her to help me with my edits. She was super nice and agreed to help out. I think I might get my vision realized after all.

Day 15

Dear Diary,

It feels as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Brooke has been great and has been able to make almost every single glitch with the blog disappear and the look is just how I envisioned it. It is still clean, and in keeping with the makeunder theme but it also has personality. I am ready to debut the blog to the world!

Looking back on the whole process, I am glad I didn’t know what I was getting into when I set out to make the switch. If I knew how frustrating it would be, I think it would have discouraged me from making the move at this point in time. But considering I didn’t know what to expect, I got through it and came out of the whole ordeal with an amazing site that makes me excited to post every day.

pan-seared mushrooms

March 30th, 2009   |   Food

pansearedmushrooms

Yesterday Erwin and I postponed our biweekly Trader Joe’s trip on account of the freak snow storm that hit Chicago for 22 hours. Normally we go before noon to avoid the congestion, but on account of the blistery weather we waited until the clouds (and crowds) parted at 4:00.

Once we got home, I set to work creating two recipes I found on The Pioneer Woman, pan-seared mushrooms and blueberry muffins. (PS- have you seen that blog yet? Not only did she win Blog of the Year, but she has some amazing content. I heart her photography and cooking channels the most.) I chose the mushroom recipe as a byproduct of my continuing crush on the wild mushrooms in cream appetizer we learned to make on Valentine’s Day. Mmmm.

mushroomingredients

Per my usual recipes, this one is easy and quick, with very few ingredients (the ranunculuses pictured above are optional). The result was flavorful and the smell was fantastic. While we enjoyed them as a side dish last night, they would also make a great addition to a simple pasta dish or on top of toasted asiago cheese bread. Oh, and may I also mention that the mushroom packs only cost $1.99 each?!

[Chicagoans: notice all that glorious daylight at 5:00PM!]

mushroomprep

Pan-Seared Mushrooms

via the Pioneer Woman

  • 20 oz mushrooms (baby Portobellos are called Cremini and they work great and only cost $1.99 for 10 oz at Trader’s, regular Portobellos also work)
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1-2.5 tbs. butter
  • S + P
  • 1 tbs. cooking oil (I used Canola oil)

Chop mushrooms into 1/4″ thick slices and set aside. Heat large skillet with the oil for 2 minutes on high.

Add mushrooms into pan and add a pinch of salt to prevent mushrooms from drying out and sticking to pan. Cook for several minutes, mushrooms will shrink to about half their original size.

Towards the end of cooking, add butter and ground pepper to taste. For the last 2-4 minutes add shallots and allow them to soften, but not burn. Remove skillet from heat and pile mushroom mix onto platter. Serve and enjoy!

pansearedmushrooms

pretty sweet peacock: party ideas

March 29th, 2009   |   Food

watermelonpeacock

I spent Friday night at an awesome jewelry party to raise money for a Team in Training participant. It is always fun to see how people prepare for these events. Generally some awesome appetizers and wine are included. But this event had unique twists on traditional finger food. Check out the awesome peacock, above. The directions for this carving were found online, so if anyone else wants to create their own fruity bird bowl, check google.

I am not sure if I could even manage the fancy edge on the canelope myself. fancyfruitbowl

pinkcupcakes

carribeanbreezenecklace

carribean breeze necklace

Just in! New Studio 1423 pieces are in the Etsy shop. Stop on by and check them out.

carribeanbreezeearrings

carribean breeze earrings

bubblegum

pocket full of pendants, bubble gum

turquoisedanglesnecklaceturquoise dangles necklace

exfoliationoldsneakersExfoliating this week almost seems like cheating. Last weekend I went to DSW and bought some cute new sneakers (see below). I love the new shoes, and considering I wear sneakers about once a week, keeping three pairs on hand is unnecessary.

[On a side note, the old Pumas look nicer in the photo than in real life. Go figure.]    newsneakers

inspirationboard

Over the past few months I have been interviewing people about how they design their life with intention. With the move to Word Press(!) this week, it slipped my mind to find the next DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviewee. Which lead to two options: either skip this week’s interview or do one myself. Since I put others on the spot about their intentions, it’s only fair that I do the same. So here it goes.

Share my personal message

I started this blog because during junior year of college I went through a tough period (who doesn’t?) and learned a lot about myself and what was important to me. I will go into the details later next week, but lets just say that making under is what I am meant to do with my life. It’s in my gut. And rather than wait for a book deal to fall into my lap, I needed to actually go out and start writing about it. Blogging seemed an easy way to start- Now. Today. I already took the leap to be self-employed, to make excuses about working on Makeunder My Life was unacceptable to me. I can say three months into MakeunderMyLife, I cannot imagine my life without this blog and I am so thankful to have such amazing people like you, dear reader, encouraging me to continue.

Work for myself

shopchicagobooth2

Jess LC

After graduating from college I decided to pursue Jess LC full-time in order to have control over my time and energy. Sure, I took a much lower paycheck than many b-school peers. But after interning at Macy’s in product development for a summer, I realized I might not have made the best employee. I wanted to choose the color choices for upcoming collections, design the hang tags, craft the marketing plan, redesign the office space, and change the logo.

I don’t think interns have a say in logo design of a fortune 500 company.

Eat healthy, natural foods

naanpizza3

naan pizza

One intention I have is to eat nutritious foods. My first step was to stop shopping at the local grocery store. After months of examining bread nutrition labels to identify a loaf without high-fructose corn syrup for under $4.50, I figured it was worth the trek to Trader Joe’s every two weeks. Another thing I have been working on is my sugar intake. Understanding my family history with diabetes and my propensity to inhale anything sweet, I have found that it is easiest for me to strike a balance by indulging in amazing desserts once a week. This ‘treat of the week’ has now become something I look forward to and truly enjoy.

Use public transportation

One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was because the transit system would enable me to live without a car. After going four years in college without a car I wasn’t looking to add that expense and hassle back into my life. So for me, a city that was bustling and an aparment location with lots of fun things to do nearby was perfect.

Have really nice things

dirtybag1

end of the week exfoliations

As I have mentioned, I love the idea of having only really nice things. But with my budget that is not an easy reality to create. So my plan has been to decrease the amount of ‘not-nice’ things I have. I have worked on this by doing a weekly exfoliation of one thing I don’t need, use, or love. I am now about three months into this habit and it has been surprisingly easy to part with things that I don’t need/use/love anymore. Without this recurring habit I am pretty sure 90% of what I have exfoliated would be still sitting in my apartment or studio, collecting dust.

Stay active (and motivated)

Running has been a huge part of my social life and activities for five years. In order to stay motivated, I run half marathons and last year, the full Nashville Marathon. This year I will be running the San Fransisco Marathon and a few other half marathons beforehand. Running with friends (shout out to Kristin and Bernard!) and choosing new vacation destinations for the marathons has helped me stay excited to train.

Enjoy little pleasures in life

flowerpost

flowers for less

Having fresh flowers in my apartment is one of my favorite new habits, I figured out how to justify the expense and get more bang for my buck here. Another habit I am working to include in my day is laughing more. To do this I am trying to watch more funny movies and clips online.

Keep my relationship fresh

erwinandme

valentine’s day cooking class

Living with Erwin is great. And I think part of what works for us is our weekly date nights. Each week we take turns to choose a date. Without these special times set aside for doing new things, life would be a bit more monotonous. We are creatures of habit and this keeps things fresh. And though I proposed this ritual, Erwin’s date nights kick my date night ideas’ butts.

Accentuate the positives

Before sleeping, I reflect on the day and find ten things that I am thankful for and ten things I did well. I tend to be a perfectionist and will dwell on the thornier points of the day, so this nightly ritual highlights the positives.

Continue my education

I would like to read new, funny, and classic literature more often. This is the intention I am need to work on the most. I go on reading spurts, but often this gets pushed to the side with work, blogging, socializing, and Private Practice. Any ideas?

welcome to Makeunder’s new home!

March 26th, 2009   |   Life

welcomeWelcome to the new home of MakeunderMyLife! Pardon any small tweaks or changes as we aren’t 100% done with the finishing touches. But take a look around and add the new page to your RSS feeder, twitter (@JessConstable), facebook, etc.

studio1423pocketpendantsshot

It’s funny how things become cool. Then uncool. And years later, cool again. Kind of like those black and neon plastic sunglasses from the 90′s. While I don’t consider Jess LC too old, I have had my first déjà vu design. These Pocket Full of Pendant necklaces now available in the limited edition line, Studio 1423, were first available in 2005 and were one of my most popular styles.

Now the coolness is available on Etsy for just $15 bucks. The necklace comes with a silver plated lobster clasp pendant on a 16″ sterling silver chain and six charms. The idea is that you can customize your necklace with the charms you feel like, switching it up as many times as you like. I recommend wearing 2-4 charms at a time and playing with size and texture. Below are the color options we have available right now. And if these puppies get hot, more combinations will be in the works!

studio1423pendantshore

shorestudio1423pendantmeadow1

meadow studio1423pendantlilac

lilacstudio1423pendantcarnivalcarnival

dressing charlotte: bold prints

March 25th, 2009   |   Wardrobe

charlottegraphicprintdress

This week’s Dressing Charlotte is about pairing the right accessories with an all-over, bold pattern or print. When I wear any one of these three items, I let the print do the talking and wear one of two basic pairs of earrings: state st. large circles, or state st. large eyes. Their large size compliments the scale of the prints, and they have no extra details to compete with the prints. I also think large hoops or other simple, clean earrings over 1″ would look great with these looks.

Scroll down to see the other outfits and earrings. (Charlotte’s only flaw is that she has no ears to model earrings.)

charlotteprintedsilktop

ch37abig

State St. Large Circle Earrings

charlotteprintedtunicdress

ch48big1

State St. Large Eye Earrings

internshipphotoThis week’s business advice is actually geared towards the other end of the business spectrum:

Interns.

If you are in school (for art or otherwiese) and need to gain experience working for a designer, please read this post before decending upon your next victim employer. This topic is very close to my heart at the moment becasue I have been indundated as of late with resumes and referrals for interns looking to get experience at a jewelry company like Jess LC. With the cloudy economic climate, I have been getting more emails regarding internships than ever. Some are great. Some are okay. Some are half-assed. Below are the attributes that will determine which category you will fall into- so take note and aim high!

Half-assed Internship Contact

  • Email employer with two line email mentioning you are interested in an internship. (May or may not include resume.)
  • Forget to begin the email with a proper greeting. Why will an employer care about you if you don’t care about writing their name?
  • No mention about the actual employer or the company in initial email.
  • Resume in a form other than a Word Doc or PDF.

Good Internship Contact

  • Short email mentioning employer briefly, with proper greeting (ie: “Dear Mr. Gates:”)
  • Professional looking resume (no watermarks or unicorns) with relevant work experience and complete contact information. Resumes should be exactly one page.
  • Open, friendly tone in email without over using exclamation points (!!) but keeping a professional tone.

Great Internship Contact

  • Professional signature block in email (with full name and phone number [no quotes please]).
  • Professional email address, preferably using your name (snazzykatz007@aol.com doesn’t say ‘take me seriously’).
  • Email doubles as a cover letter: highlights most relevant work and school experience, and also mentions why you are excited to work for that company specifically.
  • Resume is one page long, in PDF form, concise, and focuses on relevant work and school experience.

off the chain update: Shop Chicago 2009

March 23rd, 2009   |   Life

busstopjesslc

Last Saturday I had at Jess LC booth at the Shop Chicago designer show. I also did the fall show last August in Millennium Park. This spring event was in Union Station. The traffic and vendors were down a slightly from last year, but thankfully we ended up doing better than in the fall!

My favorite part of these shows is meeting customers and enjoying their reactions. This show was no exception. Several wonderful ladies remembered us from the fall show and came back to say hi and buy new pieces. And a few ladies were wearing Jess LC pieces to the show, that was so cool. I took lots of pictures for you to enjoy, so peek around.

allison

Allison, our resident sales guru is always huge help at these kinds of shows. Without her, lets just say… I can’t imagine doing these events without her. Her idea to use a bound notebook to gather emails was genius!

dressform

Dress form look familiar? Charlotte helped grab attention and sported some Studio 1423 pieces as well as Jess LC. The Addison bracelet collection was laid out on a wood tray. Soc Chic ended up finding a new home on the table a few minutes after this picture.

shopchicagobooth2

This is the final set up: we put the branch with Rush St. necklaces next to Charlotte and Soc Chic along the back.

shopchicagotable1Necklaces laid out by collection, State St., Elm St., and Southport pictured.

naan pizza: serve yourself supper party

March 23rd, 2009   |   Food

naanpizza0

This weekend Erwin and I hosted an impromptu dinner party with out friends Pete and Kaitlyn, of eatmyblog.org. In an effort to save time and money, I challenged myself to cook the meal using ingredients I had on hand. The result was personal pizzas made with Indian naan bread and topping choices including: chicken strips, caramelized onions, homemade pesto, marinara sauce, sliced grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and shrimp.

When cruising Trader Joes last weekend on a bimonthly grocery trip, I spied the new fresh baked naan bread in the bakery section and I thought it looked a lot like pre-made pizza dough. And since I am a consistently poor pizza dough baker, the naan seemed like a way to make easy homemade pizza. The recipe is completely flexible in terms of ingedients, and the baking directions are simple.The end result was amazing – I think this might become a weekly treat.

Naan Pizza

  • Naan (we used whole wheat)
  • Fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • Pesto or marinara sauce
  • Veggies chopped (whatever you have on hand)
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Chicken strips, shrimp, etc.

Top naan with desired ingredients on a baking sheet (we lined our’s with foil for easy clean up). Preheat oven to 400* and cook for 7-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

naanpizza3

dirtybagThis week’s exfoliation was not one of those ‘oh, but it looks so nice, why is she getting rid of it?’ kind of items. This is a ‘why has this still been sitting in her shoe organizer (of all places)?’

So here it is, an ugly, yucky cosmetics bag with some random items I probably kept for travelling but would never actually during a future trip. Unlike last week’s exfoliation, I doubt anyone will be asking me to put this on Etsy.
Have a great weekend!

pesto presto

March 20th, 2009   |   Food

pestoEasy homemade pesto, just like mom used to make should have made

Last night I was busy watching the Michigan basketball game with my insanely excited boyfriend, Erwin. While we watched a surprisingly well played game, I tested this easy homemade pesto recipe by Curtis Stone. The ingredients are simple (all I needed to buy was fresh basil) and preparing it took six minutes start to finish.

Homemade Pesto

  • 1 1/2 bunches fresh basil (about 1 1/2 cups lightly packed)
  • 4 ounces toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grind the basil, pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese with a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Slowly add 1/4 cup of olive oil, grinding until a smooth sauce forms.

After the pesto was finished, I tried a trick my friend, Chan, gave me from his childhood. Using a clean ice cube tray, I spooned dollops of pesto in to the cubes and threw the tray in the freezer. So the next time we make pasta or wilted greens I can just throw a cube of frozen pesto into the hot noodles or greens and I’m done. Buh bye, pre-made pesto!

pestocubes

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: laina

March 19th, 2009   |   DESIGN YOUR LIFE
This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE is by Laina B., a good friend from business school who basically dragged me through Operations Management Studies. Without her help, lets just say I might not be an ‘alumni’. Laina now lives in Charlotte and is a financial analyst for a global manufacturing company.

In the past two years she has lived in three different cities (moving every six months!)- Ann Arbor (MI), Charlotte (NC), Detroit (MI), London (UK), and Charlotte (NC). Despite her globe-trotting, hectic lifestyle, she has managed to maintain many intentions I find difficult to juggle while living in one city. Below she explains how she managed to stay focused and intentional throughout her travels.

DESIGN MY LIFE
by Laina B.

I am a Pisces, which means that inherently, I tend to make lots of plans and dream of big things, but often let my mind and schedule get cluttered with too many of them, and poof time goes by without actually DOING what I set out to do. Living my life with the intention of DOING what I plan, instead of simply PLANNING what I SHOULD do, necessitates knowing when to let go of those plans that are not feasible or will not significantly affect my happiness. This provides me with a focus on actions and activities that will ultimately lead to my lifelong happiness. I want to be an active participant in my own life! By taking a step back and examining my life, I have realized that the following dreams/plans are most important to me: eating healthy, working out regularly, cooking more/learning new recipes, saving money/budgeting, traveling, meeting new friends, keeping in contact with friends and family, and learning and trying new things on a regular basis. Below are some of the things that I have done and continue to do to make sure that I am actively participating in my life and living with intention.


The 3-4-5 Plan
In January, I moved back to the States from London. While I was living and working over there I had little time and even less motivation to stay on top of my workout routine (I worked many 60+ hour weeks, the weather sucked, and all I wanted to do was sleep, play in London or travel when not at work) and had set out to get back into it when I returned. My friend and co-worker in Detroit told me about his new year’s resolution to start bringing his lunch to work more. Initially, we were just trying to keep one another motivated, but with me working in Charlotte and him in Detroit, it wasn’t working fabulously. That is when we decided to make rules and consequences/rewards to keep ourselves on track. This resulted in what we now refer to as our 3-4-5 plan.

Our rules are simple:
3 – Bring lunch AT LEAST 3 out of every 5 work days
4 – Work out AT LEAST 4 days a week for AT LEAST 4 hours total
5 – Make a home made meal for dinner AT LEAST 5 days a week

We picked an end date for this plan of June 14th (in time for my beach week – see below!). We do not restrict what we eat, but have both chosen to primarily keep the foods simple and healthy. Our intention is to create habits that allow us to reach our goals in a healthy and realistic way without burning out. To keep one another accountable, we have made a tracker in Microsoft Excel (yes, we are both Financial Analysts….nerds) that we fill in weekly and consolidate. We each get “paid” $5 for each piece (lunch, dinner, work-out) that we meet each week. Thus, if I were to go out to lunch 3 times in one week and met the rest of the requirements, but my friend met all of the requirements, I would owe him $5 for that week. At the end of our 5 month challenge or plan, we will see who ultimately owes the other, and it will be payout time. It will also be time to see if we truly have reached our goal – creating healthy habits that not only contribute to our health, but also to our financial health (eating out is expensive!).

Grocery shopping guidelines
In order to make sure I have a multitude of healthy options, that I save money and avoid extra trips to the store, I have 3 rules for myself when grocery shopping:

1) Always start in Produce section – if I fill my cart up early with fruits and veggies, it helps me avoid buying unnecessary garbage later on.
2) Always bring a list and follow it. This allows me to stay focused and avoid temptation.
3) I have stopped going down every aisle and just focus on getting the items on my list.

I also always try to make sure to buy one or two new or different things each time. While I always need to buy my staples, buying one or two new things in place of a staple makes the food at home more exciting, encourages me to find new recipes and tempts me to go out less. In the past year, I have had the employee ringing me up comment on the healthiness of my groceries 9 out of every 10 trips, which tells me that I am on the right track!  Also, my grocery costs have decreased by about $40-60 per trip since I started following these rules.


Intention to live overseas
Jess and I took a class together at Michigan’s Business school that required us to create a long-term goal that we would not be able to achieve in the semester. We had to set an action plan and start working towards reaching this goal throughout the semester and beyond. My goal was to work in the U.K. within the next 5 years.

Last April, a year after graduation, I was offered the opportunity to do a 5-6 month rotation abroad in the UK for my company. While the job ended up being less than ideal with a lot of hours and stress, I still did my best to make the most of my 5.5 months in Europe by taking numerous trips around the UK and traveling around mainland Europe – including trips Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, and Croatia. I did what I had planned and then some, and am very proud of reaching this goal so much earlier than I had hoped!


Connect with friends
Being happy to me means being surrounded by people I care about. One way I plan to reach this goal this year is by planning a week long beach vacation with friends from all over the country that I have met in different eras of my life. I love bringing people from different groups of my friends together and I love seeing all of them as often as I can. I have learned that happiness will usually not be brought to me on a silver platter and thus, I can’t just sit back and wait for people ask me to hang out or invite me on a trip. I need to take control of my own happiness and be the one to plan the things I want to do, the things that will make me happy.


Get involved in new activities
Similar to the last point, in moving around so much in the past 2 years, I have learned that making friends takes effort, even for someone as outgoing as myself. I love my alone time, but after a while it gets old. I like having a lot of different groups of friends and a multitude of activities to do each week. It is for this reason that I have joined clubs/groups/teams in every city I have lived in the past two years. Most recently, I joined CHOA – Charlotte Outdoor Adventure club. This week I am going indoor rock climbing with the club and also going on a 6 mile hike through the NC Mountains past numerous beautiful waterfalls. In London, I joined Meet-up.com groups which led to me joining a book club and going on the 12-mile hike through the English countryside. My first 6-month stint in Charlotte, I joined a kickball league which led to me finding a whole new group of friends that I still hang out with and actually play kickball with again now that I am back in Charlotte. Finally, when I was in Detroit I joined an adult recreational softball team and also started my own kickball team. The groups/activities above have helped me transition from college to the real world and from city to city throughout the past two years.

Learning to cook
Slowly learning to cook new things and trying new recipes weekly. This helps me reach my 5 nights of home-made meals a week and also helps me create my focused grocery shopping list!

Joined a gym
Another organization I have joined since moving to Charlotte is the YMCA. Charlotte has some of the best YMCA’s I have ever seen. I was a member when I lived down here previously, and it was the first thing on my to-do list when I moved back. By attending fitness classes regularly, I keep up on my fitness routine easily because I rarely get bored. They offer such a wide range of classes from yoga and Pilates to Cardio Funk (hip hop dancing class that leaves me feeling renewed and ecstatic after each session), Spinning, Sculpt and Kickboxing. Another plus is that many women in my office are also members. We are all constantly encouraging one another to make it to classes as often as possible. Often times going to classes in large groups. It’s a great way for us to bond, have fun and stay in shape – better than a happy hour (but not a replacement)!

Found a roommate
When I found out that I was moving back to Charlotte last November, I decided that, in order to lower my monthly bills without sacrificing the things I wanted, like location, I needed to find a roommate to live with me in what I hoped would be an affordable apartment in Uptown Charlotte (Downtown Charlotte is called Uptown, I have no idea why). Searching for a place and roommate all while living and working in the UK was not an easy feat with the time difference, working 12+hr days and traveling on weekends! However, I succeeded by using my network and Facebook. I messaged an acquaintance living in Charlotte, and found out that she was also looking for a roommate and was willing to check out the places in my absence! Now, my monthly bills are significantly lower than during my previous stint in Charlotte, my commute is shorter or equivalent, and my new place is nicer and large enough to hold both my furniture and my roommates’ furniture! On top of all of those benefits, I have started to make some new friends through my roommate.

pigeon toe ceramics

March 19th, 2009   |   Style
Every so often I find a designer while hopping along blogs that have some really stand out pieces. Last week I was lucky enough to come across Pigeon Toe Ceramics and knew I had to swap jewels for cups. Lisa, the designer out of Portland, was nice enough to agree to the trade.

This morning I was excited to find a package containing these two tiny cups. How adorable are they? Their petite size (about 2.75″x2.5″) is charming but they might best be put to use containing something other than liquid. Any ideas?


Inspired by Blair’s post yesterday on Delight by Design, I devoted this week’s Dressing Charlotte to accessorizing embellished tops. When wearing a top with an off the shoulder neckline, patterned neckline, or embellishments, let those accents become the focal point for the outfit. Accessories should highlight other areas like the ears or wrist. By sticking to bracelets and earrings, the look is clean and uncluttered.

Below are some jewelry ideas that compliment the style of the tops and create balance.

The delicate weave, buttons, and texture of this gauzy cardigan looks great with
small, delicate earrings. The pearls also pair nicely with the creamy fan appliques.
Since this pattern is bold, a larger earring is great.
I like the mixed metal, which to add some depth.
With the intricate tone-on-tone embroidery, I think it’s best to keep
the earrings simple and fresh. Since there is no print to
balance, the scale of the earrings can vary.

business answers: part two

March 19th, 2009   |   Business Advice

Andddd we’re back! Here is my second round of answers to the intelligent questions readers asked last week.

Note: this old-school Jess LC packaging is not the best marketing tool

What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your business?
This is a very interesting question for me. Up until 2009, I have focused on wholesale business, which means marketing door to door at local shops, and then hiring sales reps to sell it out of the city across the Midwest and in other territories. On the wholesale side, to really take your business to the next level sales reps are often (but not always) the answer. Generally, sales reps work on commission and the good ones represent a variety of lines full-time. Asking your best friend or Aunt’s babysitter to rep for you will not be lucrative, will waste your time, and could hurt the relationship- so go with a pro.

Now that I am developing my retail sales, blogging has been effective at getting the brand out there and is personally rewarding. But it also is a huge time commitment for me, and is not something I could do as frequently if I worked part-time somewhere else.

Additionally, the blogging is something that I intend to grow into a separate career, so how I evolve the blog is independent of it’s ability to market Jess LC. If I was just blogging for Jess LC, the content would be much narrower and design focused.

What’s your best marketing tip?

Personally, I believe marketing should be an organic part of the business (read: free in the beginning) and I prefer free PR over paid advertisements. Once a company is large enough to shoulder the expense of ads, I would stick to online ads on blogs that match your customers. But as I have mentioned, PR and retail marketing is still relatively new for Jess LC.

Jess LC at the Magic trade show last August

How were you able to find wholesale contacts? I find that when I search on the Internet I come up with thousands of results, but none that I really want (or that aren’t selling junk!). Is there a good resource that you use?

I suggest starting locally. Small boutique owners are usually the buyers and work in the store all day so they are a) easy to find, and b) know what works for their store and customer. One “line” I used to have when I was schlepping my jewelry to stores in high school and even here in Chicago was, “do you have any locally designed jewelry?” I would start a conversation with the store associate for a while, drop the above line, and wait for the response. It a) lets you know whether they support many local designers or not, and b) makes them think about how important it must be to have local designers, if this nice customer is asking about it. Then you can mention that you are a local designer yourself, and ask to talk to the owner or buyer.

At this point make sure you have 4-12 pieces of jewelry with you in case the casual convo becomes an impromptu appointment. The buyer will generally know within five minutes if they are interested. As I mentioned in the Part One, consignment might be the easiest option, but know what your wholesale prices are before going in the store! No one will take you seriously if you don’t have products and pricing.

As for wholesale outside your city, you can do what all good road reps do: drive city to city, setting appointments with buyers you find. Or, ask store owners you know for recommendations outside their area. And finally, sales reps and buying a trade show booth are the “big time” ways to get clients.

Oh how it has grown.

How do you plan to use your blog (and other networking sites) to help promote your business?

Good question! Since I have been doing the blogging thing seriously for about two months, I am still learning the ropes in terms of how to best get the name out there. But we did develop Studio 1423, our Jess LC limited edition line, on Etsy to get new customers with a lower price point and more colorful, one of a kind designs.

Okay, so I wasn’t quite this young…

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?

I saved the best for last! I struggled with this question for a bit, having done something for 10 years, there are many points I would wish I learned something quicker. So here is the advice I would give myself at a few points in time.

Age 15
Scene: Just made my first sale.
Advice: Jess, go out and take a class at a bead store to learn how to really make jewlery. You are going to be at this for a while, so know how to make stuff that won’t break!

Age 16
Scene: Naming my business
Advice: “Starlette Jewelry” is such a silly name! Stick to something more classic… like your name. You know… Jessica Lynne Constable…

Age 18
Scene: Applying for college
Advice: You are going to love UofM but you are going to hate business school. Either a) know that you will survive, or b) don’t go to business school and start your business full-time right away. Just kidding…

Age 22
Scene: Second month in Chicago, first seven days without getting an order
Advice: Relax, your chest palpitations caused by the anxiety of being full-time aren’t doing you any favors. And at 5:30pm on Friday you will get a huge order from an awesome store in Lincoln Square, The Dressing Room.

painless and productive purging

March 19th, 2009   |   Exfoliating
Spring Cleaning with Amy

Considering my propensity to (constantly) makeunder my life, one might assume that my friends are also professional purgers. But this is not the case. Realizing this difference, I am careful not to push my passion for ‘living with less’ on unsuspecting amigas. However, every so often, a friend will ask for makeunder help.

Last week, Amy, a great friend from college who lives in Lincoln Park, asked me to help with her room and wardrobe. After we completed most of the work, she offered to summarize and reflect on the process. Not only is her writing entertaining, but her frank perspective from “the other side of the makeunder coin” is a great addition for Makeunder My Life. Enjoy!


Painless and Productive Purging
(well, minimal pain)
By Amy S.

I’ll admit it: appearances are important to me. Each time I leave my apartment, I make sure my outfit is perfectly put together accompanied by the perfect jewelry pieces and handbag. Yet, for some reason, I don’t invest the same TLC into the appearance of my bedroom. You see, I love to shop just as much as the next girl, but, after years of purchases, my belongings had taken over my small room in Lincoln Park. My own closet had turned into a foreign jungle filled with mysterious garments on tacky dry-cleaner hangers, and the sartorial overgrowth had pervaded my room.
I knew I needed a change in my life. A knack for organization was not bestowed to me upon birth, unfortunately, so I enlisted the help of my wonderful friend Jess, knowing full-well that her mantra of “making under” could do wonders for my current lifestyle. So we started with my goals: what did I want to achieve after the make-under? Well, for me, clutter had overshadowed the things I loved, like my books and picture frames, so I told her that I wanted those things to be the primary focal point of my room–not the haphazard pile of clothes on the ground. As Jess reminded me, I deserve to live in a beautiful space. Declaring my intentions helped me change my perspective on the things I owned. Obviously we don’t need everything we have. Sure, certain things are nice to have–ones that make us happy–but, in my case, I own plenty of things that may have at some point made me happy but now just take up unnecessary space and caused me stress. Those things serve absolutely no productive purpose in my life anymore.
Jess helped me not only get rid of the positively useless things I had been holding onto, but also some other more “difficult” things I would have likely held onto for years to come. For example, I had a brand new purse that sat with the price tag on it for at least three years under my bed. I had justified keeping it based on a line of reasoning that presented a common, recurring dilemma for me: I liked the purse. We only buy things that we like, duh. But in practice, I didn’t use the purse because I owned other ones I simply liked better. Jess helpfully coaxed me into getting rid of the darn thing and taught me an important lesson: just because you own something doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Plus, there is someone else out there who can actually use it!
The purging is still a work in progress (I was serious when I said I had a lot of stuff!), but already I know I won’t miss the things that are gone. In fact, in many cases, I had forgotten they existed! Now I’m working to make all of the things I love–my “priority” items–visible and easily accessible. There’s no point owning something that’s going to be permanently wedged in the back of my closet. After triumphantly editing out plenty of unnecessary items from my wardrobe, I already feel much better. :)

[Lovely photo by Rachel at Heart of Light]

business answers: part one

March 19th, 2009   |   Business Advice
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is relax!

Last week I offered to answer any business questions that were lurking in readers minds and man, you all have some great questions! Specific, insightful questions tell me two things, 1: that there are some serious (or soon-to-be) business owners out there, 2: you all want some serious answers.

Below are half of the questions with their answers, the second half will post tomorrow afternoon.

Love walking in Chicago- such great architecture all around


Why Chicago?

I grew up in Rochester, Michigan and went to school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Having lived in the Midwest my whole life the obvious choice was Chicago for laid back people, bustling city, and Lake Michigan. I also knew I wanted to live in a city that had good public transportation.

Do you think that in the future you will need to move the operation to NY or LA as it gets bigger?

During college I interned in NYC with Macy’s in Product Development. Living in New York was great for four months. But the cement scenery, constant noise, and expense wasn’t for me long term. Though I have never been to LA, I imagine the weather and view is nicer, but it won’t hold a candle to my love for Chicago.

So no, I plan to stay rooted in or around Chicago regardless of the business. Because Chicago’s design scene is still ‘up and coming’ there are a lot of opportunities to get attention and great support.

At last fall’s Shop Chicago event

What do you think is the most important step in laying the groundwork for starting a business?

The most important step in starting a part-time business is to just start selling! A lot of would-be-great-designers hold off waiting for the perfect time to begin. But there is no perfect time to begin. So why not sell a necklace today? And maybe a bracelet next week? Start with people you know and branch out, open an Etsy store, print some business cards. There is something great about an organically grown company that expands along with your business acumen. For the purposes of this blog and small designers, I do not recommend launching a line full-time on day one, but to rather grow it on the side until you have an established customer base.

Take Jess LC for example: I sold my first 5 ankle bracelets sitting next to a pool to tipsy Canadian women without even trying! Then I learned to make new pieces, sold them to friends and teachers at school, studied business in college, and nine years later, launched Jess LC full-time.

Your top 5/10 tips for a jewelry designer just starting up?

1. Define your goals. Do you want to get into a ton of stores and sell mostly wholesale? Or do you want to make one-of-a-kind pieces with higher price tags for a small group of loyal customers? Do you want to be full-time or part-time? Know your goals so you can go about achieving them as quickly as possible.

2. If you want to get in a store, offer to do consignment. This is where the store puts your pieces on display and when your pieces are bought, you get 50% of the price. If they don’t sell, then you get them back. Buyers like this because they don’t have to risk anything by putting your pieces in their store. It is also good for you because you get 50% of the price which (almost) never happens in wholesale. This is a good option until you have successfully sold in about 5-6 stores, then begin to work with the buyers via wholesale.

3. Don’t take your own pictures. Unless you are a photographer or have taken classes, do not attempt to shoot your own pieces. Jewelry is small and reflective= very difficult. The first thing you should pay someone to do is photograph the jewelry for retail selling on Etsy or your own site.

4. Make a website. A great place to start is Etsy.com because it already has a huge following and you can upload and provide credit card charges without much work. If I was just starting up now, I would definitely have started there and moved my way to my own separate site over time. Another option is to pay someone to create your site. I suggest posting a freelance job on a local art school website to find students who will do it for less (same goes with photography, see tip #3). Or, if you are ambitious, learn how to use Dreamweaver – this is the route I took.

Know how to use your tools

5. Learn how to make jewelry. No one taught me how to make jewelry when I started at 15 years-old, and subsequently a lot of my (ugly) pieces broke. They got better as I went along, but I would have been better off going to a jewelry/bead store and taking a class or asking questions.

6. Wear your jewelry. This sounds obvious, but tons of people I meet say they make jewelry and don’t have their work to show me. If you aren’t wearing/carrying some pieces, customers have no idea whether they want to buy from you. Every now and then I wear vintage jewelry but I still try to remember to wear at least one Jess LC piece, just in case.


… to be continued tomorrow!

flea + free design ideas

March 19th, 2009   |   Style

The most compelling tip jar I have seen to date-
“Stimulate My Economy: Change I need”


Good morning! I apologize for the relatively infrequent posts over the past several days. Last Thursday I attempted to move my blog from Blogger to WordPress.org, and though it was successful, I have a lot of graphic and editing work to finish before it’s complete. So for the time being I recommend reading the Blogger version as usual.

While I was busy transferring info between blogs at Noble Tree with my amazing web guru friend, Tim, I snapped a few pictures of some awesome decorating ideas in the coffee house. Most items are free, if not easily found at your average flea market or garage sale.

My favorite: vintage chandelier with paper planes attached
Vintage snail mail tacked to the wall collage style (aka: reclaimed wall paper)
Coffee cups strung along a banister

Vintage windowpane with message

A bright pop of color on an otherwise ho-hum fireplace

end of the week exfoliation

March 13th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

exfoliation

cuff

(Note: I am working on the new Word Press version of MakeunderMyLife.com throughout the weekend. So for now, I will be posting on both sites until the WP version is finished. Thanks for your patience! Perfection takes time.)

This week’s exfoliation is a silver cuff I found in my jewelry box. I got it back in high school when I worked for a local jeweler selling fine and vintage jewelry. It is nice, but Erwin got me a similar silver cuff with my initials for my birthday last year and I wear so much Jess LC jewelry, that this one hasn’t been worn … ever. Time to pass it on.

Perhaps it might make it’s way to Studio 1423.

monkey business

March 12th, 2009   |   Life

Update: I am still tweaking this WordPress version of MakeunderMyLife – all new posts are still on the Blogger site: makeundermylife.blogspot.com.

I am in the process of switching (hopefully today) from Blogger to Word Press (!). So if you see anything funny on the blog or if you type in makeundermylife.com and it takes you to the middle of no where, just type www.makeudermylife.blogspot.com to see the existing blog in it’s soon to be outdated form.

Here goes nothing :).

This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview is brought to you by Patricia of PVE Design. Throughout the years she has worked with some of the most exclusive designers you can name in New York City (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Liz Claiborne) and has since taken root in Westchester and manned her small business which includes illustration, decorative, and pattern design. I adore her work and have sprinkled pieces she has created throughout the interview below. On top of all this, she also has a great daily blog, pvedesign.blogspot.com.

Not only is her talent striking, but her sincere support of my ventures has been a constant source of encouragement. So I can say firsthand that her intentions outlined below are not just mere guidelines for her, but actual daily practices. One of my favorite intentions she mentions is #7, to know that passion feels like love. So true!

1. To choose wisely – Life is all about choice and the choices that we make can make or break a life. I have three children and my intent is to teach them to be independent thinkers and to know that it is their choice. I learned this from my Mom, as one of seven we learned by doing. Like a bird, we all have to fly so the sooner the better.

2. To sacrifice - Our culture today is so accustomed to “immediate” needs being met that very little sacrifice is being made. I do not really like the word goals, it sounds so “big” and I prefer to set small steps by building upon desires. One has to look ahead, and plan. I prefer to “plan” – lists and a book journaling my steps, my desires and trying to accomplish them. Some require help, like taking a class to learn to work towards desires. Others just simply need action.


3. To be at peace – Peace is more than just making your surroundings an oasis. Developing and understanding peace requires hearing, listening and being open to be still. In a hectic and fast paced world, peace needs to be put first. It is in finding joy in small things, first by waking up earlier, by giving yourself time to think, time to create, time to get out for a walk and be aware of each day. I made a cake for a friend, for her birthday. My friend, who I made the cake for told me about “zen habits” site and I love it, I gave her the book, “The Power of Less” – we all need to simplify, do less and live more peacefully. Honoring yourself and the one’s who bring you peace. S l o w i n g down. Visit a cemetery and feel the rest. Feel joyful for each day.

4. To smile – Each day, to smile at those you love and then that one person that you know will benefit from a free smile. I always try to smile at those I meet and hope to make their day a bit brighter, cheerier.

5. To risk – To realize that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Anyone who has risked has gained. Risks can often involve danger or fear, but it is often fear that drives us. I moved to New York City after college and I think my parents were more afraid than I was. It can be a “risky” city, lots of opportunity, good and bad and I think I chose wisely, gaining invaluable experiences having worked for top fashion designers. We moved to the suburbs north of the city when our twins were little – for a house, green grass, fresh air and good schools. In 2 short years, our sons will graduate from high school and our daughter is 4th grade. We gained a nice community, a small village, but close to the big city. We have the best of both worlds.

6. To express emotions – For me, this would be to express emotions not only in my artwork, but also in my daily life. To speak freely, laugh openly, show tears and to know that it is all good to share and to express. I love the fact that I have always drawn, always loved to from the time I was little and to me, the one emotion is “energy” – “vitality” – “alive” – I get excited, my heart beats a bit faster – I feel like a kid with a brand new box of crayolas! I get so excited.

Patricia’s designs can be seen here

7. To work with passion – I am fortunate that I get to do what I love every day. I feel so many people either hate what they do, or were never supported to follow their passion which then can show up in anger, resentment and unhappiness. Working with passion feels like love. You live for it.

8. To radiate light – One must think of themselves like a bright light – full of warmth.
Like ET, he had a special light that he could not hide. There will be brighter days than others, but when you are in the habit of radiating a positive light, it becomes easier to shine. “Light today for tomorrow” – quote from Elizabeth Browning. Again, radiating light is shining, not hiding. It is a personal choice to be the brightest, be the best, and often that is through reflecting and working within. Think of Mother Theresa or Princess Diana. They did not hide, they lit the world.

A gorgeous image Patricia at work

9. To sense – Seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, smelling are all part of getting in touch with your senses. Just think as you go through your day how much you actually sense. Keep a card and write a note of all the things you sense. You will be amazed how we take this for granted. I use a simple card to jot down notes – this really helps me to be aware, to not forget.

10. To realize a purpose – Living with a purpose, gives one direction to wake up, to toil, to love, to care, and to enjoy a life full of intention. No matter what we endure, hardships, hatred, or loss, to know that each of us are here to live a purpose driven life is how we rise to realize our own unique purpose. My purpose is to share my art, to inspire others that want to find passion and love in their work. I think on a bigger scale, I hope to be part of an organization to help others, perhaps children or newly married couples. Love is truly all a part of it, my parents have been married 60 years and they always tell me, it is the little things that add up to something big. I see them as being kind, strong, resilient and loving. My father built a business -”Paul’s” Fruit markets in Louisville, KY and it is still going strong. He certainly inspired me to do what I love and of course my Mom gave us many wonderful opportunities to be “open.” Open to the best you can be.


More and more often I am getting questions about entrepreneurship, and starting a small business- which I LOVE to talk about. So I would like to offer my advice regarding small business, ways to grow, or what running a small business is like. Please post your questions in the comment section and on Friday I give my honest and candid opinion on the topics you propose.

I will also state that my advice is based on my personal experience in business and may not be applicable for all companies. (So please don’t sue.) But I can say that:

  • I started my company at the age of 15. Which means I have been a business owner for nine years.
  • My jewelry is sold in over 95 stores across the country (and one in Canada- yea for Oliver and Lilly’s!)
  • I work alongside four part-time employees, interns, sales reps, and several freelance workers to keep Jess LC running.
  • Jess LC is 100% organically funded (no big start-up funds for this little lady).
  • I personally create and maintain the website.
  • I graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with a Bachelors of Business Administration in 2007 and moved to Chicago to pursue Jess LC full-time.

So now that you have a quick idea of how I spend my time: Please, ask away!

dressing charlotte

March 11th, 2009   |   Wardrobe
My button down shirt, neglected in recent months.

The theme for this week’s Dressing Charlotte is about reworking the button down, a closet staple, into something fresh for spring. I realized on Sunday that button downs haven’t gotten much trend love in the past few seasons, and therefore my lonely button down has been stranded on a hanger for far too long.

And with the warmer temperatures coming soon (they are going to come, right?) a button down can be a perfect lightweight, long sleeve option. Below are three easy ways I will be sporting my oxford this season.

The V-neck of this sweater is great for the button down and I love the tone-on-tone combo.

The neck of this raspberry short sleeve sweater is just a smidge too big to
wear alone, but it pairs beautifully with the shirt underneath.

The small ruffle on the oxford collar is adorable paired
with the inset detail on this gray cardigan.

As for accessories with a button down? Stick to earrings, and let the scale match the collar of the shirt.

design crush: dream studio tour

March 10th, 2009   |   Style


To some, this studio may look familiar. That is because it is the headquarters for Pink Loves Brown, a Chicago based stationary line designed by Nicole, of the popular design blog, Making It Lovely (home of these great photos).

I will cut to the chase and admit that I have a huge design/career crush on Nicole. Her lifestyle in Chicago incorporates a successful business and a house worth blogging about- two things that I hope to one day achieve on a similar level. I have the business part started, but my own jewelry studio is “cute, but no cigar” to this amazing 150 square foot workspace. Can you believe that all of this wonderful resides in a spare bedroom of an Oak Park bungalow?

Moral of the story?
1.) It can be done.
2.) I have some work to do.

Just the right shade of blush for the walls.

Nicole installed these bamboo floors herself!
I. Adore. These. Shelves.
FYI: My packing station has some explaining to do.

Genius! I have this same shoe caddy from Target.

no paint artwork in 15 minutes

March 10th, 2009   |   Style
Simple white canvases above my bed.

I never really thought too much about these canvases until my cousin mentioned they were his favorite pieces of art in my apartment.

“Art?”

What was once an unsuccessful attempt to make jewelry displays later became an inexpensive way to fill the space above my bed. Nevertheless, I will accept the compliment and now I am excited to share this simple no paint project (read: apartment friendly).


I bought two $22 primed canvases from Blick, a spool of textured charcoal thread, and a foot of charcoal starched linen-like fabric. I cut the gray fabric into 14-18 leaves for each canvas and cut a small slit in the center of each leaf to make room for the thread.

Then, I wound the thread across the canvas front to back about 12-20 times, threading leaves as I went. Once I was out of thread or liked how it looked, I cut the end and knotted it to the first thread. Done.

Can this even count as a project? Seriously?

There are a million ways this could be evolved into even more elaborate artwork. If anyone tries this project, please send me a picture to post!

[Soc Chic Giveaway winners]

Daniela in Lisboa, Portugal wearing her new Jess LC necklace.

I mentioned last month that thanks to our efforts “out and about” on the internet, we have seen a big spike in international Jess LC orders and fans. Most recently we added Australia and Portugal to the list.

We always ask our international customers to take a picture of themselves wearing their new Jess LC jewels in their hometown. Daniela of Lisboa, Portugal was happy to supply us with some amazing photos of her sporting her new Southport Cluster Necklace with a stunning backdrop of land and sea.

All I can say is:

First – Thank you Daniela for the great pictures!

Second – Mind if I come and stay for a while? Lisboa sure beats Chicago this time of year!

Such a cutie!

My view of Lake Michigan doesn’t hold a candle to this breathtaking sight.

Thanks again, my dear!

soc chic all week: GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

March 9th, 2009   |   Life

Drum roll please. At long last we have the winners of the Soc Chic All Week Giveaway. The lucky ladies from the seven awesome participating blogs are listed below. Winners will be emailed today regarding final details.


But for the 822 people who commented and did not snag a lovely Soc Chic necklace we have a special thank you for participating -

For the next two days (Monday 3/9 and Tuesday 3/10) we have FREE SHIPPING on ALL Jess LC jewelry

This special shipping rate applies to all US shipping- no code needed, it will automatically take affect at checkout.

The Soc Chic All Week Winners:

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