Zero Waste Feature: Denim UnSpun

I had the chance to work with zero waste brand Denim UnSpun and did a little interview for them as well. The zero waste method that they use is super cool! Essentially you go to a place that does full body scans where it takes all your measurements. These measurements are then sent to the brand for manufacturing. I went to Rapid Scan 3D just a few minutes from my place in Long Beach. This production method is much more sustainable than typical brands that mass produce. The jeans are very customizable; you can pick length, color, fit, rise, etc. Stoked that I got to work with Denim Unspun!

Denim Unspun: What inspires you to promote sustainable fashion?

Me: I’ve loved fashion ever since I was little, but I didn’t realize the devastating impact the industry is having on our planet until a few years ago. After being vegetarian 7 years, then going vegan 3 years ago, I started to be more conscious in my fashion purchases as I was trying to avoid animal products. I got more and more knowledgeable on the topic and it became something that I HAD to share with the world. It’s a topic so many people have no idea even exists or care about and we need to change that. The betterment of the planet, the health and well-being of others (workers/manufacturers/laborers), our own health (yes, the clothes you wear can effect your health by leaching toxins into your skin!), and not hurting or killing animals are my inspiration. 

 

Denim Unspun: In what ways has conscientiousness made you look and feel even better?

Me: I wouldn’t say I necessarily look better by dressing conscientious, but my sense of style is still just as strong as it once was, however it has evolved through the years to be more mature (“adulting” you could say!). I’m just much more particular and thoughtful now in the things that I buy and wear. However, I do feel more emotionally and consciously happy knowing that I’m causing the least amount of damage as I can - that I’m not living with blindfolds on like most of the population. 

 

Denim Unspun: Seeing that your feed is very nature-bounded, what do you think is your connection with nature?

Me: I’ve always loved traveling, adventures, being outdoors, and connecting and appreciating our mother Earth. It fills my soul with so much joy! In today’s world, there is so much waste EVERYWHERE, so I love to see areas where the environment is clean, it gives me hope! 

 

Denim Unspun: What do you think is the future of fashion?

Me: The fashion industry isn’t going anywhere, but it will evolve. I see more and more ethical, sustainable, and vegan brands popping up all the time. Sure, not many of them are super huge, but the more we support them the bigger they’ll grow! 

There are some really cool advancements going on with different plant based fibers like fabrics made from coconuts, pineapples, mushroom, oranges, grapes, apples, kombucha, yeast, etc., but for now, I think it will primarily be the more popular and commercialized plant based or sustainable fibers like bamboo, linen, tencel, modal, hemp, recycled polyester, recycled cotton, organic cotton, and eucalyptus. 

I think the stigma of secondhand fashion is also starting to shift. Shopping secondhand is the single biggest way to shop sustainably because the items already exist and you’re creating less demand for new items from the manufacturers, less waste, and less pollution. I was brought up in a wealthy area that deemed secondhand shopping was only for poor people, so that was in my head for quite a while growing up! Now that I’ve had my “vegan, ethical, sustainable awakening” (haha), I’m much more educated on the topic and almost exclusively shop secondhand. Also when shopping secondhand, I make my buying allowance only the balance/credit that I’ve accumulated from selling so it keeps it at a nice cycle and I’m not dipping into my bank account for shopping. I would say 95% of the newer items in my closet that are not secondhand were a part of a collab with a sustainable, ethical, and/or vegan brand. 

 

Denim Unspun: For anyone who wish to start buying sustainable fashion, what would be your first piece of advise for them?

Me: Think secondhand first! Thrifting in-store can be a little exhausting, I get it! If that’s too much for you, try Poshmark, Ebay, Mercari, Tradesy, thredUp, Depop, etc. You can also be more specific with online because you can narrow down the exact thing you’re looking for rather than scouring a whole store in-person so it can save you time. Unfortunately, with online though you also have shipping fees, transportation pollution, and have to wait much longer to get the product. Thrifting in-store is more sustainable and is more for leisure shopping. There are also other fun things like secondhand subscription boxes like Material World and clothing swapping sites like Swap Society. If you’re not looking to buy secondhand, seek out ethical, sustainable, and vegan companies. You vote with your wallet, and it’s always best to go with a company that has similar values. 

Don’t think that you need to be perfect or give away your clothes that aren’t “sustainable” or pieces from fast fashion brands. It takes a while to accumulate sustainable pieces, however, wearing what you already have is the biggest way to make an impact.  This is the part of the fashion industry that’s often overlooked. How we care for our clothes and how often we wear them makes a difference! For example, having a piece from a fast fashion brand that you’ve had 10+ years and worn 100+ times gives it a long life cycle and although the garment itself wasn’t made sustainably, how you care for it can be. In contrast, you buy something from an ethical brand that you maybe wear 5 times before you’re over it and then give it away/sell it; it’s life cycle with you as the owner is much less. Hopefully, if this is the case, you can give it a nice home with a different owner, rather than it going to donations or landfill.  

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Yosemite Feat. LNBF, Gaston Luga, Baume, Boody, Krochet Kids, Blanca Flor, & Fazl Socks

I had an itching to do some wilderness exploring and shooting so I assembled a small group of creative gal pals; Stephanie (@stephanieklotzphoto), Hannah (@hannahrosesesser), and Rachel (@notrachelmcadams), and we went on a 3-day, 2-night glamping trip to Yosemite National Park.

We stayed at one of the housekeeping units in the park. It’s basically a roof, bunk beds and a full size bed, a couple power outlets, covered by curtains and a fire pit, bear storage locker for all food and anything with a scent, and a table for meals. It wasn’t much but it was the perfect set up for what we wanted. It was kinda like camping but we didn’t have to set up tents and had a little more security with the bear lockers.

Over the course of the trip we visited a lot of the popular tourist destinations in Yosemite Valley, took lots of photos, made s’mores, wandered and explored! We worked with a handful of awesome sustainable brands also on this trip including Leave Nothing But Footprints (LNBF), Boody, Gaston Luga, Baume, Krochet Kids, Blanca Flor, and Fazl Socks. It was such a great time getting to adventure with these rad gals and I can’t wait to do it again!

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Big Sur feat. Kindom Shop, Slide Belts, Proof, Mad Hippie, & Zealous

Last month, some friends and I camped in Big Sur-- it was a really good time in a beautiful setting, despite some interesting challenges along the way!  The trip included me, Dan, (@deer_dann), Ish (@ohheyits_ish), and Erikson (@eriksonerise), as well as Eddie (@edikins) and Joy (@_madewithjoy) who joined up on day two. While we had originally planned a larger creative trip mixing models and photographers, we made the most of our photographer-heavy clan, and still had fun!

The four of us left from Bakersfield at 4 a.m. on Friday to get a step up on the Big Sur Memorial Day weekend holiday surge. I was in fine form, having pulled an all-nighter to finish up some work on my laptop, so I was glad to not be driving. Our winding, twisting road trip there took some unexpected detours from Highway 1 road closures, and as well as an occasional hurling stop for my car/motion sickness--always a possibility on a real curvy road, especially when I am NOT driving!

Although we had arrived to the campgrounds before 8:30 am, there were no available or unreserved camping spots at either of the two camping options. Oh, did I mention we did not have a “reservation”??--(not recommended on holiday weekends, lol) . Luck was definitely on our side, however, since later on that afternoon, a nice lady at one of the campgrounds ended up giving us a place to park.  It wasn’t a legit “camping spot” because it didn’t have a grill or bonfire pit like the others, but it was a nice open space with lots of trees. We were grateful and happy to have a place to stay, so all was good.

Once we set up camp, we went down to the beach to walk around and explore - SUCH A BEAUTIFUL COAST. OMG. We definitely loved our time there.

We went back to camp to eat dinner and have some s’mores (mine were vegan obvi) We didn’t stay up too late as it was cold at night and we all wanted to bundle up in our sleeping bags.

Joy and Eddie (surprisingly) found us on day two and set up camp next to us. I say surprisingly because our campground and the surrounding 30 minute drive radius was a complete dead zone for cell phone service-- totally “off the grid”. We used a nearby pay phone  (a first for me!), to leave Joy a detailed voicemail describing our exact location. They never would have found us otherwise if they had already lost “service”. How much we depend on technology, even when we are trying to escape it!

Over the next two days, we explored the Big Sur coast, checked out McWay Falls, went into town, hung out at the beach, and got some good photography content for a few brands that Dan and I were working with.

The brands I had partnered with were Kindom Shop, Slide Belts, Proof, Mad Hippie, and Zealous.

Kindom Shop is an online boutique specializing in products made of sustainable, natural, reclaimed, and indigenous materials. The grey Madison Column Dress, Kaile Cosmic Universe Convertible Dress, and black Kira Convertible Ruffle Sleeve Top are all Kindom and made from reclaimed fabrics.

Slide Belts are not a vegan company, but they did just come out with a vegan women’s collection of skinny and thick slide belts. I’m wearing the brown/gold and black/silver combinations.

Proof is primarily a sustainable eyewear company that gives back to the community, however they do have other travel inspired goods. They use biodegradable, recycled, and natural materials and have a socially conscious business model. I'm wearing the Wilder Eco sunglasses in matte black/grey lens.

Mad Hippie is a vegan and cruelty free skincare company that gives back $1 of every web sale to conservation. They are sold in natural health food stores and markets as well as in Anthropologie and Free People. I featured their exfoliating serum, face cream, antioxidant facial oil, vitamin c serum, and their vitamin a serum - seriously some great skincare products.

Zealous is a sustainable home goods online store. The Beech Wooden Plates were used for the s’mores photos. These are biodegradable (obviously) because they’re made from wood!

I loved my time in Big Sur, and am excited to return!  Hopefully next time we can get a bigger group of friends, models, photographers, and significant others--AND we’ll have a reservation or stay in a cabin or AirBnb!  

Not showering for three days while trying to look and feel decent in photos was definitely a bit of a struggle for me, but still lots of fun!  

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What constitutes eco and ethical fashion?

When people ask me about my interests, and I tell them "eco and ethical fashion", many have never heard of these terms--and so there is often some confusion about what I am even talking about.  So I'm here to clear things up and provide you with some information and perspective on something very near and dear to my heart. 

"Eco" (ecological or sustainable) fashion is clothing that is kind/good to the EARTH, and "ethical" fashion is kind/good to PEOPLE (and animals).  Eco fashion is not always ethical, just like ethical fashion is not always good for the environment--but when your fashion items are both eco and ethical, its a win-win for both the environment AND people! 

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

EXAMPLES OF "ECO FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Buying secondhand from a thrift or consignment store (this is the most sustainable option): 1. These items are discarded or donated as the owner no longer wants them. If these are not given to a secondhand store or new owner they will be thrown away, likely into landfill waste. 2. You can use less gas by shopping at small, "local" thrift and consignment stores that are often within your own community.  3. You are literally REDUCING your total purchases at a normal retailer, the cost of the item (your wallet thanks you!), and your environmental footprint, REUSING someone’s discarded clothing, and RECYCLING the items back into your closet so the pieces can have a new life. 

-Buying secondhand from an online store such as Tradesy, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, thredUP, etc. Buying online as opposed to in person is slightly less sustainable as you have to factor in environmental pollution from packaging materials and shipping/transportation.

-Buying something secondhand that is still new from online or in-store. Not all secondhand items have to be "used". Although buying new secondhand items is slightly less sustainable than buying used, it still offsets the manufacturing and production impacts in comparison to buying new straight from the company or retailer. A great item to buy secondhand that is new is swimwear, as it seems unhygienic to most people to purchase swimwear worn by other individuals. 

-Using more sustainable fabrics such linen, hemp, modal, tencel, etc. Bonus if you use organic! 

-Using recycled fibers, fabrics, and materials. An example would be using old plastic bottles to spin into fibers and then into fabric to make a new shirt. 

-Upcycling fabrics and clothing items. This is not to be confused with recycling as upcycling does not go through a shred>spin>new fabric cycle that recycling does. Upcycling keeps the general fabric components. An example would be cutting up an old t-shirt and making a reusable grocery bag out of it. 

-Purchasing products from companies who implement sustainable practices and elements in their production, factories, packaging, etc. 

-Purchasing products that use natural dyes like vegetables or seaweed instead of harsh chemical dyes that impact your health and the environment.

 

EXAMPLES OF "ETHICAL FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Having a "Sweatshop" free environment: There should be no harsh working conditions for the employees, all the design and production and shipping facilities and factories must comply with state/country regulations and standards.

-Fair Trade: Workers are compensated fairly for their work in accordance with regulations and wage guidelines.  

-Any initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc. that a brand may have that is dedicated to social/environmental good.  An example could be an artisan jewelry company that donates a percentage of profits to the World Wildlife Foundation or charity wellness programs for the artisans who make the jewelry. 

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

OVERLAP - CAN BE BOTH ECO & ETHICAL

Made in America: Most clothing items made in the United States are not necessarily eco-friendly or sustainable. However, if the clothing is made in the United States, wages and working conditions in American factories are usually better than in other countries, due to stricter regulations and workplace standards. However, there have been reports that there are still sweatshops in the US where workers are not earning minimum wage, or are required to work long hours or work in other potentially hazardous conditions, so try to do some research. By shopping local(ish), you also cut down on transportation pollution. Something shipped within the same state or country has much less of a transportation environmental impact than something shipped from overseas. Some companies take greater measures to implement sustainable practices and materials than others. Depending on the company or brand though, you could be shopping both eco and ethical made in the USA items! Bonus: by purchasing items within country or state lines, you're also supporting the economy and hardworking Americans! 

Made in Europe, Australia, or Canada generally have similar working conditions to the US. 

Vegan Fashion:

Vegan fashion includes clothing items that are free of any animal products! This means no leather, suede, wool, silk, cashmere, fur, etc. The debate of vegan fashion needs to be addressed--you can make the case that it is eco or unsustainable and you can also make the case that it's ethical and non-ethical.  Every situation requires a bit of thoughtful analysis--Here are a couple of examples:  

Example 1: Company X sells Vegan shoes for ($10 - $30)

-Eco: Good because you're using much less resources to produce the fabrics and materials to make the shoes. Bad because this particular company is known for its pollution, harsh chemicals, etc. to produce shoes--thus potentially harming both the environment and workers' health. 

-Ethical: Good because you're not harming animals, but not so good because this company may cut corners in taking good care of their employees, and not pay them a fair wage for work, and there have less than good working conditions in their factories. 

Lower price point items are typically made cheap, do not last as long, but are much less likely to have animal products, whereas most more expensive items (unfortunately) are made with animal products and are durable. This is not the case with all brands and items though.

Example 2: Company Y sells Vegan shoes ($500+)

Eco: This company as a brand is dedicated to sustainability efforts in every area of its development and production.

Ethical: This brand is ethical all the way around - to humans, animals, and the environment. 

Promoting and practicing sustainable initiatives. Environmental sustainability is both a concern for both ethical fashion and eco fashion. While it is both eco and ethical--there is sometimes a conflict in that you can't always afford to buy the most expensive items you'd like--a good time for shopping for resale.

 

Reflect

I hope this information helps you think about the purchases that you make and the types of companies you support. This has been quite the learning process and journey for me over the last few years and I’m always learning more about this topic and am happy to share with you all. As sustainable/ethical fashion awareness grows, so does the industry. Consumer demand drives companies to make changes, so the more we learn and talk about these issues, the more companies will shift their mindset. Let’s #MakeShiftHappen! 

Ethical Companies that are Making a Difference: Artisan & Fox

I feel as though it's important to highlight companies who are really making an effort for change. Whether it is environmental sustainability, humanitarian, health, or animal welfare issues - it's game on. Artisan & Fox is an ethical artisan based marketplace where you can find unique pieces made humanely all over the world. By purchasing from artisan-based companies rather than big corporations, you're cutting out the fast fashion crap that's no bueno. Fast fashion has serious impacts on our planet, on the manufacturers (dyers, sewers, cutters, laborers, etc.), and you - the people wearing the clothes! Don't believe it's that bad? Watch the documentaries True Cost or Riverblue or read more about the effects of fast fashion in the Beyond the Label "How to Shop for Shi(f)t" sustainable fashion guidebook my team and I published this fall. 

When I received my choker necklace from Artisan & Fox, everything it was packaged in could be considered zero waste and plastic-free. How do they do this you ask? They have foldable cardboard boxes that fit your item and use folds rather than plastic tape to adhere together, the shipping label was paper with a sticky back (no tape!), the inserts were paper/cardstock, and they used a canvas reusable sachet for the necklace. It made me so happy to open the package knowing that it was prepared so consciously with respect to the environment. I was given a card telling me who made my choker. It was made in Kenya by artisan Ojiko - so cool!

The transparency with companies like this amaze me and keeps me wanting more. I want to support and hear the stories of the men and women who craft pieces, who love what they do, and who are treated ethically and fairly. I wish to not hear about the atrocities that fill the lives of fast fashion workers, because I hope there comes a day where consumers will value quality pieces made humanely rather than a $5 tee made my an abused child worker in Asia and there won't be those stories to tell. But until then, all we can do as consumers is to speak with our wallet (and voice if you're like me!!) and educate ourselves on what goes into making a piece of jewelry, a garment, shoes, etc. and how they effect you, the workers, and the planet. Thank you Artisan & Fox for being a true example of an ethical humanitarian company - and for my necklace of course! :)

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Embracing the Pure Life

Jenny, founder and designer of Pure Life Jewelry, sent me a few pieces from her newest collection and I’m obsessed! All of her items are handmade in Phoenix, AZ (Yay, my hometown!). With her small batch production, being crafted in the states, and sweatshop free environment she is doing wonders for ethical jewelry. By purchasing her products, you’re also supporting the economy and local business. We are all guilty of purchasing items from overseas or from companies who likely don’t have the most ethical practices, but by choosing quality over quantity, local over import, etc. we can make a difference. Plus, her pieces are so cute and definitely fit the gypsy boho vibes everyone is going for nowadays (lol me).

I headed out to one of my fave coastal photo-shoot spots, Terranea Cove, in Rancho Palos Verdes. It’s also one of the few places in that area with 24/7 free parking! I was shooting a girlfriend of mine (@serenalisaa) and her boyfriend (@drlord) for some content. I’m trying to expand to couples photography as well as portrait/lifestyle. Anywhoo, I was able to sneak in some shots at the end!

In my first look, I’m wearing the Dreamer Necklace and Pyramid Mixed Metal Ring accompanied by my newest recycled fashion find (rust sweater) from Buffalo Exchange.  You can really tell how carefully crafted her pieces are and I thought the golden and copper tones of the jewelry matched well with a warmer shade and outfit.

My second look included the Moonstone-Moxie: Radiate Love Ring which I paired with a high-collar tank and patterned velvet kimono.  These I had purchased way back in the day before I had even heard of sustainable fashion, but the top is Brandy Melville and my kimono is from the notorious mom store Chico’s. Can you guess who I was shopping with when I got this? Yup, mom haha. The silver and light purple stone on the ring complemented the costal ocean vibes and my cooler toned neutrals.

One of my favorite parts about working with small American businesses is that you get a personal interaction with someone and form professional relationships. It’s more than just seeking ethical and sustainable companies to work with. Jenny was such a pleasure to work with and is so passionate about what she does. It can be difficult to start a jewelry business (or any business for that matter), so show her some love and check out her work! 

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Terranea Cove X Vegan Boutique: MooShoes

A couple weeks ago, I went out on a little day adventure with one of my girlfriends, @imadilife, to Terranea Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes, California to shoot for MooShoes! I came about MooShoes from an Eco-Sessions event I went to in Downtown Los Angeles a month or so ago focused on vegan fashion - count me in! I met many vegan fashion lovers, some vegan-curious attendees, and some awesome vegan brands and companies - one of those being MooShoes! And so came, the partnership with the vegan boutique on this lovely shoot!

In my first look, I styled both the Matt & Nat Shareen black purse as well as the Novacas Olivia Heeled black sandals. For those of you who don't know Spanish, "No vacas" means "no cows", aka animal free! Both the purse and the shoes were such high quality, they could have fooled anyone into thinking they were real leather. Very comfortable sandals as well!

I styled the Good Guys Daisy Booties in black in my second look. No joke, these are probably some of my favorite boots I've ever worn, with the exception of them being too big on me haha (last pair!). You can dress them up, dress them down, and the heel is only a few inches so you can wear them all day! Definitely worth the extra dough for versatile, ethically made killer booties!

In my third look, I'm carrying the Matt & Nat Parabole bag in brown and wearing the BC Footwear Valor Sandals in sand.  These items paired so nicely together and are neutral enough to wear with most outfits! BC Footwear in general is a more affordable vegan-friendly shoe brand and these ones were awesome with their lace-up detailing. The purse is pretty versatile and has a long shoulder strap to be worn at your sides or crossbody too. 

Overall, I had the best experience with these products and with MooShoes as a company! My hope is to bring veganism (no, not just food!) mainstream and show others that you can be stylish without harming others, the planet and your health. There's no need when there are plenty of vegan friendly options nowadays! One of the hardest parts of my transition to living a full vegan lifestyle was giving up animal based fabrics like leather and suede (aka 95% of my shoes and purses)! This was pretty difficult for me as I have always been fashion and shoe obsessed. I had a realization though - that I can live a kinder, happier, (and still fashionable :D ) life with less material possessions and rid my closet of items where someone had to die in order for me to enjoy them. There is a guilt and burden you feel when wearing animal based fabrics once you look at it from that perspective. There are also environmental and human rights/safety implications as well that are a big issue... but that's all for a future blog post! Companies like MooShoes make it so easy to shop ethically and responsibly - no checking labels, tags, materials, etc. - just shop freely and shop with compassion!

That's all for now babes! and remember...

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Venice Beach x Noa Elle

I recently did a collaboration with California based brand Noa Elle and I'm here to share with you my experience and thoughts! They were so sweet and the products they sent me were really high quality. I headed out to Venice Beach in Los Angeles for a photography meet-up with @pursuitofportraits and ended the event shooting for Noa Elle with my model gal pal @carly.reyy (go check her out!). 

In my first look, I'm wearing their Brie Top in Nude which has a lace up front with tassels. The linen material is a little shear but is a perfect spring or summer top, just add a neutral bralette! In my second look, I'm sporting the gauze blend Jewel Tunic in Clay. It's a little too short for a dress but just pair it with some flowy shorts and you're good to go!

These pieces were beautifully crafted and designed in Downtown Los Angeles and support local commerce. My favorite part of working with brands like Noa Elle, is that there is a common goal among us - to fight fast fashion with high-quality items produced in a fair trade and safe environment. The fashion industry has been very cheapened and it is our job as consumers to seek more ethical brands to purchase our products from. It was a pleasure working with Noa Elle and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking cute, contemporary, and affordable clothing made ethically in the USA!

Local Nomad Collaboration

Explored around Papago Park in Tempe with my sorority little, Elizabeth for a shoot! We collaborated with Local Nomad Shop in Uptown Plaza in Phoenix and I styled the looks. All their pieces have such a cool back-story and the store owner, Lauren, seeks to find super unique, ethical, and sustainable vendors. As you guys know, I'm a huge advocate of local and sustainably sourced goods (especially ones that are cute..hehe) so it was great to work with Local Nomad Shop! Working with companies that share your values and interests are important in order to be genuine to yourself and your audience. I understand that it may be difficult at times to always be wearing/eating/using sustainable products, but every little bit helps!