Women Entrepreneurs

Piece, Love & Chocolate - Success Story!!

Mmmmm… I never realized opening a real-life brick and mortar chocolate shop (Piece, Love and Chocolate, in downtown Boulder, CO) had so little to do with chocolate…

Long before the sledgehammers began swinging, there was work to be done. In order for this chocolate part of the business to succeed, the business itself must succeed first. I needed to channel my passion on the business development and sustainability first, foremost and always – the chocolate part is the fruit of the labor – the “gravy”. I will touch a little on that, because in my opinion, you cannot fully appreciate my pile of rubble until you’ve peeked at the inertia that created it – my pile of rubble is a result of years of hard work.

I knew that in order to make this endeavor successful, it would take a whole lot of research, legwork, money, sacrifice, persistence and patience. “Work smarter, not harder,” as Chef Genny always quotes. It took a very long time, indeed, and I definitely have worked harder than smarter some of that time. But, I have learned oh-so-much!

Owner/Founder
Sarah Amorese
My Location
805 Pearl Street
Boulder CO 80302
United States
Employees
14
Year Company Formed
2011
My Successes

After 27 sessions of “non-candy coated” SCORE advice (and a few tears) Piece, Love and Chocolate was born.  Opening in February 2011 on a “Wing, Prayer, Business Plan and SCORE”, this chocolate lover’s dream has continued to grow.  Piece, Love &Chocolate has grown from 4 employees to 14, increased revenues 45% in 2012 and is on track to increase another 26% in 2013. Most importantly, I love my job!  

The Boulder community has embraced the love, oh and the chocolate.  See what they have to say: Boulder 2140.

9News featured Piece, Love & Chocolate and one of my mentors, Larry Storms, for Small Business Saturday: 9News.

How SCORE Helped

First off, (and do forgive me if this morphs into an Oscar-like gratitude speech) let me start with my local Denver chapter of SCORE (affiliated with the SBA) and the value of a good business plan.  These people are AMAZING!  I could not imagine having started this business without them! I enrolled in almost every workshop they offered and they helped me to create “Bodacious Bertha” my business bible, aka my business plan.

My SCORE advisers were so eager to share with me their years and years of cumulative business experience; this is the kind of stuff you just can’t put a price on. I got comfortable, really quickly, with the fact that I do not know it all and I will continue to make mistakes along my journey. These beautiful people of SCORE were willing to share with me the mistakes that they have made – I listened, I learned, I laughed, I cried. Let me tell you though, not everything they have to say is positive – they didn’t candy-coat anything!

All my cherished advisers were and continue to be supportive, honest, caring and blunt. Enrique, food service specialist – emotionally prepared me and continues to support me (big hugs!). He came up to Boulder to visit my new shop and sat with me amongst my rubble on a gnarly old hunk of concrete. We discussed where I could get the best deals on used kitchen equipment. Tom, accountant extraordinaire – taught me how to create and understand financials, no small task let me assure you (he has the patience of a saint). Larry, banking specialist – scared the bejeebers out of me – yikes! But, scared is a good thing when you’re talkin’ the kind of funds it takes to create this kind of a business. (Luv ya, Larry!) I couldn’t possibly thank you gentlemen enough!

SCORE helped me to create a working business plan that really works. “Make a plan. Work a plan,” my granddaddy used to say. I cannot imagine I would have made it this far without them and I will continue to use their services. What a fantastic business resource! No doubt, they are surely improving our local economy by helping one entrepreneur to succeed at a time! You are all my heroes!!!!

Visit Piece, Love and Chocolate

Roy’s Delivery Service

Hada Grullon has overcome both critics and the recession using the highly personal touch that she brings to her business: Roy's Delivery Service. While many companies today make their customers feel like a number by having them jump through bureaucratic hoops, Hada is known for remembering people's birthdays and making them cookies. She has overcome being robbed and nearly knocked out of the entrepreneurial game altogether. The result is a thriving company with more than 300 clients.

Owner/Founder
Hada Grullon
My Location
Miami FL
United States
Year Company Formed
2001
My Successes

A self-described “little girl from the island,” Hada is a first-generation American from the Dominican Republic who has never forgotten about the people who got her to where she is today: the head of one of the most success delivery services in Florida. She was named the Outstanding Businesswoman of 1999 by the National Association of Women Business Owners and has won numerous awards, including the Customer/Client Service Excellence Award by Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter. But how did she manage to come out of seemingly nowhere to blaze a whole new trail in the business field?

Hada started in the business world where most do: at the bottom. She worked as a banker in Florida for 15 years, learning the standard ins and outs of business. Her first major business influence was her boss during this time, the first woman to serve as the chief financial officer at her bank. “She taught me how to be a more professional person and a hard worker,” Hada says.

In 1992, the news that would forever rock the foundation of Hada's life would be delivered: she was fired. Though immediately picked up by another bank, she hit bottom again after being the victim of another round of layoffs. But the spirit that later carried her to the top of the business world wouldn't let her go out that easy. “I'm tired of getting laid off and I'm going to do something about it,” Hada said to herself at the time. Instead of trying to get another bank job, she decided to start her own business. In a refrain common to many successful business owners, she says simply, “The best thing that happened to me was getting laid off.”

Starting at the bottom again, Hada had to fight for every inch and every customer. She worked out of her garage, and took second and third jobs just to pay the mortgage on time every month. Yet when it looked like clear skies for her business, she would face her most difficult challenge yet. A thief had struck in the night. All of her money and resources—gone, representing a devastating blow out of left field, almost pushing her out of business all together. “Sometimes you go through the journey and get a wake-up call when you're doing something wrong,” she says.

Her personal touch is evident in every aspect of the job. When a client called for 500 packages to be delivered in time for Christmas just days beforehand, Hada rounded up every friend and family member to help her finish on time. She isn't just creating a business, but rather a meaningful, responsive community. Though times are tough because of the recession, she still thrives as a business owner and person. Given such success, other businesses will no doubt follow in her footsteps. “People have forgotten about the personal touch these days; you must build lasting relationships with your customers,” she says.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Hada contacted Dade SCORE in Miami to explore her options and how to prevent something like this from happening again. Because of her mentor’s help, she was able to slowly but surely regain her footing in the business world, by deciding to go above and beyond what her customers expected from their delivery service. She started remembering clients’ birthdays, their kids’ names, and all manner of large and small details. These weren't just faceless pie-chart statistics and percentage points; they were people. “You must take one customer at a time. It’s better to manage 10 than not manage 100,” she says.

Consuelo’s Travel

Consuelo Castillo knows a few things about long-distance travel. Like many other Latin Americans who have come to the United States, the native of Peru had experienced the difficulties of making travel arrangements and dealing with immigration issues while also trying to overcome a language barrier. With the Hispanic population in and around her new home in Lakewood, NJ, growing steadily, Consuelo set her sights on starting a travel agency that specialized in serving Spanish-speaking customers.

Owner/Founder
Consuelo Castillo
My Location
Lakewood NJ
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

Consuelo realized that she had much to learn first. She spent several months working as an unpaid part-time employee for another travel agent to gain experience while also building her English skills. In 1998, she felt ready to take the plunge.  Drawing on her personal savings and the part-time assistance of her husband, Orlando, she launched Conseulo’s Travel.

“We soon found that customers were asking for help for other things such as money transfers, translations, tax returns and immigration counseling,” Consuelo recalls. “My husband and I quickly learned as much as we could about them so we could add those services.

Consuelo soon found it necessary to hire another part-time employee, and to seek financial assistance for new equipment and leasehold improvements. While researching information at the local library, she saw a notice for a SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups. That led to one-on-one mentoring with Bob Miesemer, the former president/CEO of a business machines company.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“We needed help developing business plan, our marketing strategy, and legal requirements,” Consuelo says. “Bob took us through each one step by step, showing us what elements were needed and why they were important.”

With Bob’s help, Consuelo received her loan and continued to grow her business. Unfortunately, the rent on her leased space began to take off as well. That challenge simply created a new opportunity. In 2002, the couple purchased a three-story building ideally located across from the Lakewood municipal building. Consuelo’s business occupies the ground floor, with the remaining space leased to tenants that include a lawyer, employment agency, and a newspaper. With her fully bilingual staff, which includes Orlando, Consuelo enjoys steadily growth in both her revenue and customer base.

One frequent visitor to her business is Bob Miesemer, who drops by to check on their progress and answer questions. “I really appreciate his counseling and support,” Consuelo says. “When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.”

How SCORE Helped

“When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.” says Consuelo Castillo.

With Bob’s encouragement, Consuelo is working on becoming a SCORE volunteer so that other Hispanic entrepreneurs will benefit from her experience. “I tell them that if I can succeed after being in the United States for only seven years, anybody can,” Consuelo says. “You just need to be sure of what you want to do, and where to go to get help.”

SCORE Mentors Haas Media LLC

“I wish everyone had a Howard!”

That’s how Kim Haas, president of Jersey City, N.J.-based Haas Media LLC feels about her SCORE mentor, Howard Geltzer.  For the past three years, the communications and community outreach entrepreneur has relied on Geltzer’s business expertise to market her skills in the busy and competitive New York City market.

Owner/Founder
Kim Haas
My Location
Jersey City NJ
United States
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

Originally from Philadelphia, Kim combined her love of languages and cultures with communications to start her own business while living in Milwaukee in 2003.  Clients relied on Haas’ multi-lingual capabilities to reach an increasingly diverse population. 

Her work included the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s first Hispanic marketing campaign; public relations, community outreach, translation and educational initiatives for several multi-billion-dollar Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) highway reconstruction projects; and an award-winning WisDOT educational initiative called  “Careers in Motion,” which introduces elementary and middle school students to the wonders of science, engineering and transportation.

Eager to return to her East Coast roots and experience big-city living, Kim and her husband relocated to metropolitan New York City in 2006.  One of the first things Kim did was contact SCORE’s Manhattan office.  “I’d learned about SCORE while living in Milwaukee,” Kim says.  “I was so fortunate to get to work with Howard, who once owned his own public relations agency.”

Kim’s efforts are paying off.  Along with maintaining her presence in Wisconsin, she currently provides Spanish media training for the Toy Industry Association. She will soon begin production on a Latin American travel series.  Kim is also pursuing projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Kim’s relationship with Howard Geltzer had an immediate benefit, as he mentored her on a strategy to maintain her business in Wisconsin while establishing a new presence in New York. “I was afraid that I would have to give up all those great clients because I was no longer there physically,” Kim says.  “Howard showed me how to make it work.  It didn’t have to be an either/or decision.  I could do both.”

Over the past two years, Kim and Howard have met each month to discuss potential business development opportunities, strategize and plan for the future, and discuss trends and issues affecting the communication business.   “Howard holds me accountable on what I need to work on between meetings,” Kim says.  “He’ll then evaluate what I’ve found, and help me analyze what did and didn’t work.”

“I’ll keep working with Howard as long as he’ll have me,” she says.  “I’ve been richly rewarded by his experience and guidance.  And he’s so accessible; I can call or email him, and he’ll get right back to me.  He’s one of the best things to happen to me in New York City!”

How SCORE Helped

“Anyone even thinking about starting a business should check out SCORE. They give you great insights on things to think about. And, it’s always nice to have someone in your corner who’s always there for you.” says Kim Haas.

Form 22         Model for Chapter Bylaws Form

Nurtured By Design

At first glance, Zachary Jackson looks like any other healthy eight-year-old. But along with being a typical kid, Zachary is also a CIO—Chief Inspiration Officer—for his mother’s company, Zakeez, Inc. now Nurtured By Design.

Owner/Founder
Yamile Jackson
My Location
Sugar Land TX
United States
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

Born three months early and weighing less than two pounds, Zachary needed all the help the Texas Medical Center in Houston could provide during those critical early months. But the key to his survival was the comfort of simply being held gently by his mother Yamile.

Because she couldn’t stay with her son 24/7, Yamile began looking for a way to maintain a sense of contact with Zachary. Applying her instincts as both a mother and an engineer, Yamile adapted a pair of garden gloves to serve as her “surrogate” hands, duplicating her touch, warmth and scent. Realizing that thousands of other mothers faced the same challenges with their “preemies” and other special needs children, Yamile began looking for ways to transform her makeshift gloves into a marketable product.

Three years of ergonomics human factors research later, Yamile had crafted the appropriately named “Zaky®,” which would benefit both preemies and healthy babies alike. What she needed next was some help in spreading the word about her innovation.

“I had already operated a business as a consulting engineer,” Yamile says, “but going from a service to a product, especially one related to medicine, was a huge transformation.”

The Zaky and its amazing story have earned worldwide coverage in newspapers and magazines, televised news reports and programs such as The Rachel Ray Show, and even a made-for-TV movie. Yamile has been repeatedly honored for the Zaky, including receiving SCORE’s Outstanding Woman-Owned Business Award for 2009.

Zachary Jackson continues to do his job as CIO, as his mother is introducing new products such as specialty clothing for preemies that accommodate IV tubes and cables for medical devices, and bereavement clothes for babies unable to overcome their survival challenge.

Zakeez continues to thrive today, thanks to broadband. Because more than 80 percent of sales are completed online, broadband is critical to the company’s success. Not only does it help Yamile accomplish everyday tasks and streamline research, she is also using it to take online courses and leverage new and improved ways to communicate with customers.

“Broadband is not a luxury, it is essential for my business,” says Yamile Jackson, founder, Zakeez, Inc. “Because our resources are limited,  it is important to be efficient in how we distribute advertisements, news, and sales efforts to a wide audience. Broadband also allows me to reach customers around the world, conduct web conferencing and keep an eye on my competition. It allows me to save time, compare prices and create efficiencies when I purchase from vendors online.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Houston SCORE mentor Sam Dubinsky advised Yamile on preparing for her first trade show, while other mentors helped her craft an effective marketing strategy that included brochures, publicity, and an online presence at www.zakeez.com.

More recently, retired engineer Bob Ashfield provided Yamile with a valuable technical perspective on her new products, including Zak’s Sack, which capitalizes on the concept of “kangarooing” to help both mothers and fathers nurture their infants by keeping them in close physical contact.

“Sam and Bob are very generous with their time and the information they have,” she says. “I truly feel that they genuinely get pleasure from my success. How appropriate it is that for a product designed to help nurture new and small babies, I have received so much help from a group of professionals dedicated to nurturing new and small businesses.”

How SCORE Helped

After seeing a flyer about a Houston SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups, Yamile attended thinking it’d be a “one-shot” experience. “But as I listened to the mentors,” she says, “I realized there was a wealth of information and resources that SCORE could provide.”

“What I really like about SCORE is that they don’t make decisions for me,” Yamile says.  “They’ll tell you what they know, point out other sources of information, and make suggestions. But they leave it up to me to decide.”

www.nurturedbydesign.com

SCORE Mentor Advices Chimers Charts™

Chimers Charts™  Make Playing Music Easy

With Chimers Charts ™ people make music without the need to read music. It removes one of the biggest frustrations in learning and teaching music.  Groups make music together instantaneously, using Chimers Charts ™.

Chimers Charts ™ offers easy-to-read music instructional boards. They use colors and letters, to designate what and when notes should be played for a song. Chimers Charts ™ is the first commercial instructional aide for music to do that. Although initially designed for Music Therapy sessions, many other groups such as music classrooms, retiree/senior groups, youth groups, Bible study classes can take advantage of this great music product.

This product encourages people to have fun playing music together, in a success oriented activity. It removes the frustration of reading music in order to play music.

Owner/Founder
Mary Scovel
My Location
112 Doncaster Lane
Bluffton SC 29909
United States
Employees
1
Year Company Formed
2010
My Successes

 

Mary Scovel, Inventor and Successful Business Owner

Early in her career as a Professor of Music, Mary Scovel encountered a new challenge, a young boy with Downs Syndrome that changed her life. After meeting that young boy, Mary realized she wanted to teach music to people with special needs.

After receiving her Master’s Degree in Music with an equivalency in Music Therapy, Mary reached that goal. Mary designed Chimers Charts so that anyone can make music easily and have a successful experience. As a result, anyone who wants to play hand chimes and other instruments, but doesn’t read music, can have a successful music experience.

Chimers Charts ™ were designed to meet the learning needs of anyone who can distinguish letters and colors. "Because of SCORE, I am now the proud business owner of Chimers Charts", says Mary.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"I would not have attained this business success, if it were not for the able assistance of Bob Holbrook, my SCORE counselor", says Mary.

"At our first meeting, I described my invention and Bob laid out a detailed plan on how to move forward. Because I was a neophyte, I listened carefully to this man who had years of business experience. He offered sound advice and encouraged me to pursue this project", says Mary.

How SCORE Helped

Mary needed a patent for her invention and Bob worked with her through all of the steps in securing that patent.

"He assured me that when I had a question I could call him anytime, which I did often", says Mary. When Mary found a company, Jeffers Handbell Supply Inc., to manufacture her product and obtained the contract, Bob reviewed it with her. Bob advised Mary about her business options. He also explained the meaning of the business language in the contract.

With his guidance and Mary’s efforts, Chimers Charts made their first sale at the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) conference in November, 2010. "Bob supported me every step through this process and I am deeply grateful to him and to SCORE for the generous service they provide", says Mary.

Bob Holbrook is a volunteer SCORE counselor with Carolina Lowcountry SCORE. Visit www.scorehiltonhead.com to learn about free SCORE business advice for starting or growing a small business.

Clover Gift Shop

 

“I love it,” was the simple response from Clover Gift Shop owner Patricia Eames to the  question, Why did you want to become a retail shop owner?

With a background in banking and women’s and children’s product merchandising, Patricia was ready to go out on her own when she learned that the Clover Gift Shop - somewhat of an institution, since it had originally opened its door as Wilson’s Gift Shop in 1923 - was for sale. The shop had been purchased in 1982 by Donna Lewis and renamed Clover Gift Shop.

In need of funds for this venture, Patricia approached Chittenden Bank, her former employer, and it was suggested that she contact SCORE for some assistance in evaluating the business and preparing a comprehensive business plan - usually a necessary step in securing a loan.

Patricia was assigned to veteran SCORE counselor Barry Rotman. In addition to helping Patricia prepare the business plan, Barry worked with her in valuing the inventory and in understanding all the nuances of the purchase and sale agreement. “After the purchase was finalized in January 2008, we discussed ways to improve the appearance of the shop including things like a new awning and signage, and better window displays,“ said Barry. “It helps that Patricia works in the shop and is charming and knowledgeable.”

“Working with Barry was a real treat,” said Patricia. “With his extensive retail experience and his experience with SCORE, he was able to lead me down all the right paths to making this venture a success.”

Patricia has added several lines of new merchandise including a beautiful line of quilts and April Cornell linens; the shop has a new logo which pictures a red clover - the Vermont State Flower - and, eventually, customers will be able to make purchases on line. The Christmas Shop at the rear of the store is open year round and, of course, now is the perfect time to visit it.

The new shop hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 5:30; Saturday from 9:00 to 6:00; and Sunday from 11:00 to 5:00.

You can reach Patricia at the shop at 10 Elm Street in Woodstock or you can call her at 802-457-2527 or you can e-mail her at pj@clovergiftshop.com or you can check out her web site at www.clovergiftshop.com.

 

 

The Complete Hoot

 

Filling a Void in the Upper Valley Arts Community

Literally coming from nowhere, The Complete Hoot arrived on the scene last July and already has a circulation of several thousand copies each time it’s published which, for now, is bi-weekly.

The brainchild of Jo and Jerry Evarts, The Complete Hoot - subtitled Arts, Life & Entertainment in the Upper Valley - seeks to present in one very readable format virtually everything you need and want to know about the Upper Valley arts and entertainment scene. And, get this - it’s free.

Someone once said that the best way to be successful in business is to find a need and fill it. Well, the Evarts found the need and knew they had a very good idea on how to fill it, but they also knew that they needed help. They had so many questions and, at that moment, so few answers. How large an area to cover? How often to publish - weekly or bi-weekly? How big should the publication be - both in size and number of pages per issue? Would it be acceptable to the potential readers if the publication was printed in black and white or should it be in color which is much more costly? How much to charge per issue or should it be free and totally supported by advertising? What hardware and software would be needed to interface with an area printer? How do you sell advertising space in a new publication? Is there a need for an actual business location so advertisers and potential employees among others could visit?  In addition to budget, and staffing, and banking considerations among so many others.

Fortunately, Jo and Jerry saw an ad for a SCORE workshop on marketing. Not only did they attend the workshop, but they learned that SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business - provides free one-on-one counseling for start-up business along with counseling for existing businesses that might be experiencing some difficulties. So, they signed up with SCORE and requested assistance from a SCORE counselor. Enter Counselor Susan Davidson.

Working together for weeks on end, Jo, Jerry, and Susan came up with enough answers to enable The Complete Hoot to finally go to press in July 2007.

So here it is, all in one place. Arts calendars and performance schedules, restaurant reviews, book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of all manner of theatrical productions, and editorials on arts-related issues. Virtual one-stop shopping for the Upper Valley arts community from Hanover to Cornish and Woodstock to Meriden. Copies are available in area grocery stores, arts centers, arts venues, visitor centers, bookstores, libraries, restaurants, inns, B &Bs, real estate offices, and upscale retailers.

And, do yourself a favor. Check out The Complete Hoot web site at www.thecompletehoot.com. It’s really a companion piece to the publication, not just a “who are we and how can you reach us” web site. It’s crisp, clean, and very user friendly.

 

 

SCORE Mentors Helping Individuals Succeed Agency

As a child, Derschaun Sharpley learned that a little self-confidence can go a long way, especially for inner-city children who often come from broken homes.  Enrolled in Charm School by her mother, Derschaun learned manners, grooming and other fundamental lessons that enhanced her self-esteem and interpersonal skills.  “That experience gave me the confidence to pursue my interests in dance, acting and cosmetology, and earn a bachelor’s degree in health administration,” Derschaun says.

Owner/Founder
Derschaun Sharpley
My Location
Detroit MI
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

A position with Detroit’s City Schools gave Derschaun the opportunity to develop programs and initiatives that instilled those same important skills in socially challenged youth.  Along with improving attendance and test scores, Derschaun’s programs also sought to provide young people with simple and effective tools that would serve them throughout their lives.

When budget cuts put an end to Derschaun’s school-based programs in 2003, she decided to continue serving Detroit’s young people as a business called Helping Individuals Succeed (H.I.S.) Agency.  Derschaun also knew where to find help getting her new venture off the ground—SCORE.  A search of online mentors on www.score.org led her to begin an email mentoring relationship with Iowa-based SCORE Mentor Ann Tompkins.

Today, H.I.S. Agency offers a variety of popular programs that teach both boys and girls with dining etiquette, personal hygiene and social skills.  Derschaun also works closely with the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Detroit, hosting events such as “Mom and Me Tea Parties.”  She’s also hosted several workshops on “Personal Success” and “Dining Etiquette for Success” for families and local youth agencies. 

Derschaun is proud of H.I.S. Agency’s accomplishments, but she knows there are many more young people who need help coping with the challenges of daily living.  She’s hopeful that sponsors will allow her to further expand collaborations with Detroit’s schools and service agencies, and eventually take H.I.S. Agency’s programs nationwide.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I needed help with everything,” Derschaun says.  “Ann put her heart and soul into helping me, going above and beyond what I expected.”

Ann was particularly helpful in showing Derschaun how to identify and market to her target audiences.  “I initially thought my market were the young people themselves, but Ann convinced me that I should be communicating to their parents, schools and youth service agencies,” she says.  “As I put my message and materials together, she helped with copywriting, proofing, and editing.  I can’t tell you how many emails we exchanged!” 

Derschaun also tapped the expertise of other SCORE mentors for help with financing, budgeting, and developing a consistent and profitable price structure.

“Every SCORE mentor I’ve worked with has been very receptive and willing to help,” she says.  “If they don’t know the answer, they’d recommend someone else who does.”

How SCORE Helped

Whenever Derschaun needs help with a business-related issue, she will reach out to her growing network of SCORE email mentors. “No one should be afraid to do something because they don’t know the answer,” she says.  “All you have to do is contact SCORE.”

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