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We got this review yesterday. It's a small thing, but we were able to start Monday with a laugh, and with a little satisfaction that we were helping make customers happy. (It went in our #general Slack for everyone to see.) 

It made us realize: a LOT of your reviews have given us a laugh. Partly, we're super-close to all things Code&Quill—and we take feedback seriously—so when a joke comes, it's all the more surprising and amusing. And we appreciate it. =]

This week, we're sharing the reviews that have made us laugh. Either y'all are a jocular bunch or we're a little burned out (maybe both), so have a laugh courtesy of your fellow Code&Quill patrons and family members—

 

This is MULTIPLE times recently that our notebooks have been reviewed as "sexy." Don't think it's the same guy, but if so, maybe he's just a weird dude.

 

Holy shit, 12 stars?! I don't think I got that many in kindergarten. Like, total. So this is quite an honor. And you're very welcome—not much point selling a good product if we can't help when things (occasionally) go wrong.

 

"If you're on the fence, this is me pushing you over."

 

Glad the new Scribes were a success. We'll wear your badge with pride. =]

 

OK, funny story. Ronak and Kevin went to college in Virginia. One day, Ronak mentions a professor to Kevin, says that they'd talked recently, and that that professor had ordered some notebooks. The same day, we get an order from someone with the exact same name who lived in the exact same city as the professor. So Kevin writes a note and everything, includes a gift... and later finds out it's not him. Oops. 

 

Left.

 

"... important Professional Notes (and their associated lines, squiggly bits and blobby things) ..." 

 

Lisa, you share Ronak's gift for hyperbole. Sorry for the mishap a few months back—but when we first read this review, Kevin nearly spat his drink into his keyboard. So thanks for that. =D

 

 

 

Reviewers Who Already Knew Exactly What They Wanted to Say, Damn It—

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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Code&Quill caters to A LOT of creatives.

That's the easy part to say. But what do we mean by that? Who do we mean by that? 

Well, some of our best customers are...

  • Designers (web & graphic)
  • Developers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Travelers
  • Photographers
  • Nomads

And so many more. 

Today, we're featuring 7 NEW ways the creatives in our family are using their Code&Quill in day-to-day life.

We've kept the original sets of pics behind them—so if you want to think about how you might use your Code&Quill, take a scroll until something strikes your fancy.

 

Spring 2017

 

Artventuring again

A post shared by Georgia Rose (@artventurous_george) on

  

 

@artventurous_george knows how to take a Code&Quill to some pretty spots... then draw pretty pictures of those pretty spots. Bravo, and thanks for sending it into #notebooksgonewild!

 

 

 

@techgirlgo is one of our favorite customers. (Y'all are astoundingly good as a group, don't get us wrong, but if we know you by name, you're probably a gem.) And some of our favorite things, too: code, MacBook Pro, cozy-looking socks, and motivation all in one!

 

 

@codeandquill check out my dishes on the left and business on the right 😘 #notebooksgonewild

A post shared by Sam Miller (@optimisticallyreal) on

 

@optimisticallyreal sent in a whole page of sharply-drawn flowers for our #notebooksgonewild social contest! We love examining all the detail you put into both pages we see here. :D 

 

Henry isn't quite as excited about my new notebooks as I am 🐈 #codeandquill

A post shared by Ashley Fielding (@rainey_ash) on

 

@rainey_ash may as well have tagged Henry and this photo in #notebooksgonewild recently! To be honest, we're not cat people — but given our dog mascot's color, we'll admit that's a very handsome kitty. =]

 

 

 

@dainsaint has posted a series of well-worded, sharply-written photos like these. Go check out his page on Instagram to see them all!

 

 

 

@alexraup knows the tech jungle, it seems — cables sprawling about like vines, extra peripherals at the ready — but in the middle, one simple little notebook. Thanks for hitting Twitter with #notebooksgonewild!

 

 

@mnmlscholar certainly has an eye for pens. Not gonna lie, we're a little jealous. Or envious. We always mix those up. The point is... how to put this delicately... please continue to show us your nibs, scholar. They're lovely. 

 

Hey! We're sharing even more sweet features from our community below, and think you should join them! Tag us in your photos on social and let us know how you're using your Code&Quill! Don't have a Code&Quill yet? Check out the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite—made for creatives by creatives.

 

 

Holiday Season 2016

At work with @kateanddesigns

A photo posted by Joan Born (@thejoanborn) on

 

Hey designers—step that game up. @thejoanborn is bringing the PANTONE color swatches to the table.

What are your favorites—and what are you "coloring in" so far this year? 

  

 

Code, colors, and Code&Quill. And Codeland, apparently. =]

Big shout-out to @techgirlgo for repping a couple things we love: all things tech AND sharing the love of what you do with others. Keep it compiling!

 

#codeandquill #fountainpenday #fountainpenday2016 #vanishingpoint #twsbieco #monteverde

A photo posted by hotcupofloving (@hotcupofloving) on

 

Hey @hotcupofloving, you stole our pen! Yeah, we recognize that TWSBI at the bottom! =P  

If y'all like writing with ink, fear not — you might be impressed at how well our paper handles fountain pens. It's all dat 100GSM acid-free paper.

Draw and write to your heart's content!

 

My favorite tools ❤️🍎🖍

A photo posted by Chrystel Paulson (@chrystelpaulson) on

 

And @chrystelpaulson, thanks for the 'gram and good word. We like the clean Mac setup — and we see you doing that UX work. Love it!  

 

 

We shipped this notebook across the pond to @ariannedonoghue. Arianne, we're pumped to see you outfitting it for the field (love the yellow Lamy!) and excited to get cracking.

Best of luck — and don't get addicted collecting Safaris in different colors! 

 

Some people are best in small doses💊 . . . #sorrynotsorry #handwriting #doodle

A photo posted by Mel (@alostnightowl) on

 

A little comic relief from @alostnightowl — and a true statement about anyone's co-workers from time to time.

Need to step away? Limit your people dose. Take a chill pill instead, close the door, and draw something that you're thinking about.  

 

Big notebook, little notebook. ❤📦 📕 #codeandquill

A photo posted by flokat (@flokat) on

 

Filling up one notebook with boxes, diagrams, arrows, and text? Go ahead and re-up! If you haven't bought one in a while, don't forget that you can size up for a Monolith now.

Or, you know, you could buy more than one like @flokat here. That'd be pretty sweet. And at that point, you might consider one of our (discounted) bundles! 

Hey! We're sharing even more sweet features from our community below, and think you should join them! Tag us in your photos on social and let us know how you're using your Code&Quill! Don't have a Code&Quill yet? Check out the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite—made for creatives by creatives.

 

November 2016 

What are you doing today?

Why not crack open your Code&Quill and start a sketch like @anna.rastorgueva?

We bet you’ve heard of #NoShaveNovember, but did you partake in #Inktober?

@Jessicaseacrest busted out her colored pencils and used her notebook for some sweet drawing.

fuzzy heart, coffee filled, and goal crushing wednesday! 👊🤖☕️ •• i'm not going to lie, insta + social média has been a great part of this journey. i have met SO many of you, and have been so happy to help + get shit done together! 💓 •• today, i am being featured on Stay Curious Darling Site (@staycuriousdarling) #WCW edition 😻 • i have been inspired by Brittany for years, and i can't wait to travel + work with this #girlboss 👯🤓💻 - i am humbled, and happy today! hugs to you all! 🤗🤗💕 •• keep kicking ass, and owning it! Ps. Brittany is the most badass, remote worker, digital nomad, and programmer! 🌏 if you have any questions regarding that lifestyle, i'm sure she's the one to ask! 🤓✨ link in bio! PSS. pizza hunting is my hobbie! 🍕😉 •• #happy #staycuriousdarling #blogger #girlboss #feature #happy #humble #workhardstayhumble #entrepreneur #womenintech #programmer #heygirlfriend #youcandoit #codethangz #code #webdeveloper #startuplife #codeandquill #devstickers #motivation #femaleentrepreneur #digitalnomad #travel #freelance #remotework #workhardanywhere

A photo posted by @codegirlcode on

We’ll be honest—@codegirlcode has a special place in our heart. She’s always been supportive of the C&Q brand and team, and loves showing off her notebooks!

However, this post is great because it’s all about goal crushing and growth, which are two of our favorite things.

Keep it up!

We’re not entirely sure what’s happening here, but it involves pizza, so it’s a-ok in our (note)book. See what we did there?

IG user @mbeero uses his creative genius to get the people to vote… on pizza preference, that is!

Ah… organization. Not going to lie, this warmed our hearts a little.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of coming up with a guide for using your Code&Quill for journaling and organization (think Bullet journaling and agendas).

What do you think? Something you all would want to hear about? Shout out to @hickorysoul for the sweet inspiration! 

If you need to pack for survival, we’ll agree with @campingguyinny and say your Code&Quill is a must.

Need another use idea for your C&Q? Head out into the great outdoors and sketch what you see. 

Everything about this video and caption is great.

1. Fresh starts, who needs them? Only everyone.

2. A clean slate to spill ink on? Not much better than that.

Cheers to @sofabedsophia for her positive moves in the right direction and using Code&Quill on her journey.

Want to see your Code&Quill photos featured on our site? Tag your photos with #codeandquill and we’ll be sure to share the love!

Happy creating!

Looking for the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite? Check out our collection of notebooks—made for creatives by creative.

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Here's a guess about you.

 

At some point in time — maybe even right now — you've dreamed of doing something for yourself, whether as a side venture or full-time.

Second guess: you haven't been able to cash in on that dream. At least, not yet.

Third guess: you're not giving up on that dream, but you know you have some mental obstacles—some ways you're not sufficiently knowledgeable, prepared, or even mature.

One more intuition we have: you'd be much more willing to try realizing your dream if you knew it were possible. 

There's some good news. Well, it's actually bad news, but it might explain a lot: mental blocks persist because they're not clearly visible. You can't evade obstacles you can't see. And when you're dealing with a complicated idea like starting a business, most people experience "the learning curve" as a single, horribly-tangled knot of confusion.   

Fortunately, you can still evade (or even obliterate) what's in your way. This article is going to show you what the obstacles are, what thoughts commonly characterize them, and how you can begin to move beyond yourself to do bigger things. 

The odds are against me.
I could fail—and that would hurt.
  

 

Sure, you could fail. And yes—if you failed, it'd almost certainly sting. But ask yourself something: is the worst (realistic) thing that could happen really so bad?

When people imagine the worst, they usually imagine losing three things: prestige, resources, and opportunities.

This is embarrassing. I burned a bunch of money on something that didn't work. And worse, I can't even get the time back!

Except that—in EACH case—you might have been far worse not taking the chance.

Rather than being embarrassed by temporary failure, you might someday become ashamed of chances permanently lost to you.
Rather than lose money on a venture you wanted to try, you might have played it safe and cornered yourself into a boring salary—then wasted the money elsewhere.

Rather than "waste time" failing hundreds of times before breaking through, you might never try and, thus, never fail—but you'd lose the hands-on experience with failure that could have led you to breakthrough.

Now, are the odds really against you? Well, we don't know your circumstances, so we won't speak for you. But the old adage is common sense: if you decide you're going to fail, you're already right.

To go one step further: the people who beat the odds are the people who are persistent and purpose-driven enough not to care about "odds."  

 

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Low Self-Esteem

Who am I to think I can do this?

 

Let's start here: you're not alone. In fact, we'd guess most people are uncertain most of the time, especially at the beginning of undertakings like these.

Think about a famous successful person. Was that person successful... right away? Did they just wake up, flip a few switches, and start minting money? Of course not—that person probably worked really hard before they were successful.

If you put yourself in their shoes, you might realize: during all the time they spent struggling, without any of the success they have now, they probably felt the same way you feel now.

 Maybe not the exact same. Everyone's different, of course. But self-doubt, fear, and anxiety are all normal in some measure here. Anyone who pretends to be fearless, or pretends to have complete control starting out, is doing just that: pretending. So don't buy the illusion! (See also: the spotlight effect).

If your self-esteem is low enough to be debilitating, seek help, even if it's just a simple conversation with someone who cares. Things do get better if you try to change them. But otherwise—if you're just worried you're "lesser" for feeling afraid or ignorant when everyone else seems so sharp—just ride the wave and don't worry about everyone else. They're busier worrying about themselves anyway.   

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Sunk Costs

I've got too much invested in my current job and lifestyle.

 

The economists in the room can probably explain this in better detail... BUT here's what economics teaches us about sunk costs. They're an illusion. 

We get it: it's really irritating to invest and then step away. It runs deeply against the grain. Such absolute waste, we think. I may as well have dumped the money in the toilet and flushed it. 

But that response is actually more emotional (and less rational) than we assume. The pain of sunk costs isn't purely about losing resources; it's about emotional and cognitive dissonance. For some reason, it's really hard to unwrap our brains from commitments we've already made, even if it's smartest to cut and run.

Further proof: sometimes we'll have the option to undo a commitment and choose something better, and with ZERO penalty — and we still don't take it! (Ever doubled down in an argument you knew you'd lost?)

Here's the rational way to reconcile sunk costs. Think about where you are right now and what your next options are. For just a moment, ignore any sunk costs. Just ask yourself: what can I do next, and what are the costs and benefits of those options? 

Remember: your reasons sometimes change. What made sense in the past may not make sense now. And it's very possible that, even if one option's cost is losing some investment you've made, the benefits would make it the smart choice anyway.

 

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Negative Pressure

My partner, friends, family, and co-workers think it's a dumb idea.

 

This one is a tricky balance to strike.

On one hand, it's important that you hear feedback. If there are smart or well-meaning people who offer you cautions, you should listen to them. It's not smart business to get started literally right now, when you have little information, less context, and virtually zero guarantee of success. 

Let's not forget, too, that your spouse and friends and family and co-workers are (presumably) important people to you, and you to them. Don't forget that your choices affect them. 

BUT having said all of that...

If you believe in the "case" for trying something with your life, you can't expect anyone else to argue that case for you. Try to persuade them. Sometimes that's an exercise in creativity. Still, you might be surprised how receptive others can be when you explain earnestly and give them a chance to share, to compromise with you. 

Just one fair warning: if your life changes fast, don't expect all the same people to stay in it. It's normal, in the course of "changing lives," to lose some work connections and some friends. Hate to say it, but some of you will lose family. Be patient and, as you change, you might find some new connections more kindred anyway.

 

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Constraining Comfort Zone

Things are pretty good right now.
Why give it up?

 

Here's another tricky one. 

On one hand: if things are legitimately good for you, why change? might be a damn fair question. Business-starting stuff is hard. A lot of people fail at it. Ask yourself if the grass just seems greener over here. 

On the other hand: deep yearnings don't disappear without resolution. You have to DO something to get the monkey off your back.

Everyone wants to "be" something cool when they grow up. But not everyone wants to do the work. Doing is the Great Filter between wannabes and their successful counterparts—because everyone thinks, but only doers get anywhere with their thoughts.

The "work" to get there is sometimes hard, but not always—and whenever you can enjoy that journey, you'll feel a new freedom and purpose that maybe you don't feel now, even if things are comfortable. 

 

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Limited Financial Support

I'd be starting without much (or any) money.

 

This one ain't so delicate. The world turns on money. Businesses have expenses. And if you don't have the money, you can't get the stuff you need. 

Now the cruel part: it's easier to make money (i.e. profit) if you already have money, but it's really difficult to make money if you start with none. (Ever heard the expression it's expensive to be broke?)

In return, here's the good news: never in history has it been cheaper, easier, or faster to start the average business. Business owners are necessarily resourceful people, and this is an age when the most important resource—knowledge—is both super-cheap and super-dense. Welcome to the Internet Era. 

Impossible to say how much money you'll need for YOUR business, but it's probably less than you think. We wrote an article about 5 sample businesses you could start for $500 or less; take a peek here.

Start at the beginning and make smart plays!   

 

Breaking the Glaze Ceiling — Resolving vs. Solving

Just remember this: resolving means you want to do something, but solving means you did it. Anyone can make a New Year's "resolution," but only the dedicated create solutions for themselves. 

There's a reason they say that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The main reason (aside from cynicism) is this: everyone has an opinion on what's right, but only people who DO right get to brag about it.

For a long while, you might be too busy to brag. Later you'll just be proud of yourself instead—but what more could anyone want?

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

  

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Starting a business and employing yourself for the first time can be scary — but what you're doing isn't complicated.

And what are you doing? Trying to replace your income, we'd expect. 

If you could make your current salary during your first year in business — yet also employ yourself and learn a ton about your craft — wouldn't you want to?

Seems like a pretty good deal, in theory.

Lots of people have just one problem: they don't know what they'd sell. Or they might have an idea, but no inkling of how to get from A to Z. Add the realization that they have to spend money to experiment (sometimes quite a bit), and it's enough to make someone give up.

Not chasing this possibility is a major loss. Because, y'all, it is way cheaper and easier to test an idea than you might think. After all, the foundations of this company were made with $500!

In this article, we're going to share a few examples of products and services you could start selling—and with the same $500 or less. The saleables featured here can be starting points for you—whether for WHAT you might sell or HOW you can begin selling it!

 

Products or Services?

As we mentioned in our article about basics for starting your business, selling products and selling services can be vastly different experiences — even if the underlying principles are mostly the same. 

We've split our examples here to try and cover both scenarios. All 5 examples might be helpful to you, but pay closer attention to the ones selling the same kind of thing (product or service) as you!

 

Selling Your Skills Remotely

This covers a HUGE spectrum of professions. Anyone whose work can be transmitted through the Internet can (theoretically) sell that work on the Internet as well. So if you're a designer, coder, editor, or similar kind of specialist, you're included here! 

The first question: what precisely do you want to sell? What are your specialties? What do you do really, really well that others can use (and hopefully love)? 

The second question: do you want to turn it into a business or just work as a freelancer? No right or wrong answer here — they just have different advantages. As a freelancer, there's usually less paperwork and headache, but also less opportunity for business growth and developing a permanent reputation.

If you want to turn it into a free-standing enterprise, great! Take a look at our checklist of things you need to start your own business.

If you just want to freelance, that's cool too. If you don't have leads or projects of your own, you can start working on places like Upwork. (BTW: Upwork isn't like Fiverr, where customers expect cheap work likely to come from overseas. You can earn a surprising yield on Upwork, especially if you earn a good rep and raise your prices smartly over time.) 

 

Selling Your Skills Directly

Some of you might be specialists, but in services that require you to be physically present. For example, a skilled masseuse or hairstylist can expect to make good money per hour — BUT their entire business model has to reflect the fact that they're doing tangible, in-person work (unlike the folks described above). 

In many such cases, there aren't many opportunities for truly "wherever" freelance work. For example, hairstylists are often (technically) freelancers, since many salons either (A) rent out their booths by the month or (B) collect a percentage of sales from stylists. BUT such people don't have full freedom to come and go. In their clients' minds, the stylist still "belongs" to the salon — and most times, stylists won't even offer services away from the salon because it's not worth the hassle. 

Here's our point. Most of the time, with gotta-be-there specialties, it's way easier to manage work with a permanent workplace. That means a choice between (1) getting comfortable arrangements under someone else's roof, OR (2) building a roof of your own. 

The first option is definitely easier. The second option requires extra red tape, just because you're now worrying about literal overhead — PLUS legal compliance in some cases. (This depends very much upon what you're doing, but here's the nutshell version: if you're putting your hands on or near people, you're probably going to have to get paperwork from the government.) 

 

Product Example #1: T-Shirts

Before getting into ANY of these product examples, let's be clear about something: starting with $500 does NOT mean that you'll develop a full business with that money. Yes, Code&Quill really did start with $500 — but that only bought us our first steps, in the form of our first prototypes.

Here's why it still counts: we used those prototypes to run our first Kickstarter. There, we earned about $46,000 more from that initial $500 investment. In turn, we needed most of that $46K to finish product development, deliver all of our Kickstarter orders, launch a website, and set up shop. In one way or another, every penny of that $46K went back into Code&Quill — no direct personal profits — but suddenly we were a legitimate business, and with no outstanding debts. 

Your first $500 might only buy you one or two steps. It's what you do NEXT that counts. 

So let's examine a quick example: T-shirts. It's a commodity that people only need to like to buy — even if they already have too many others. Most T-shirts aren't going to be super-expensive, so the profit margins aren't amazing — but they can still generate some moolah. (Imagine selling $20 shirts that cost you $4-5 to make.)

Your challenge, in this case, would be differentiating yourself. Millions of people sell T-shirts, or apparel more broadly; why in the bleep would they buy yours? 

Whatever niche or special connection you've got, play hard up that lane. Selling a product like this, you're doomed to failure if you try to sell to everyone all the time. Ask yourself: what T-shirt can you make that others will WANT to wear because it somehow represents them?

If you're starting with $500, you're probably best aiming for one spectacular launch product and one or two surefire places to sell it. If you profit from the first shirt, it'll be easier to make your second and third. Not just because of the money, either — but because you'll have a better idea of what to make next.

 

Product Example #2: Candles

Go check out the scented candle aisle in Target. (Maybe you do already, but go back again. It's so nice there.)

Now look at the price tags. Most of them sell for $20, give or take — and you'll notice that branding has an influence on price, as fancier-looking candles have the higher price tags.

 

Y'all, let us tell you what's in a scented candle, and we mean EVERYTHING: jar, wick, wax, dye, essential oils, label. Do you think ANY of those ingredients cost a lot per candle? Hell no! Everything there is cheap as hell to buy, especially in bulk.

But scented candles are perceived as a luxury product — meaning that potential buyers are less likely to be penny-pinching DIY types. Which is their loss, because... do you think it's difficult to make scented candles yourself? (It's not.) 

Perhaps you see where we're going. Spend the first $100 getting your equipment and "test supplies," so you can teach yourself and experiment some. From there, $400 will buy you PLENTY of materials.  

If your close-at-hand network likes some of the candles from your first batch, consider using some of your initial $500 budget to help market the product. It works to your advantage that, in this case, you can use generic supplies to make ANY kind of candle, and potentially even after you've assessed demand for what people like most in your test selection. 

 

Product Example #3: Specialty Food

This one can be tricky, insofar as you're very likely to need extra paperwork to sell a food product. But if that doesn't intimidate you, there's a bonus to selling food: virtually nothing is as consumable and, if good, liable to earn repeat business. 

We're assuming that you're some kind of expert in the food you sell — or, at least, that you're really really passionate about that food group. The usual advice applies: it's best to serve a particular group particularly well and, ideally, to make a new experience from familiar ingredients.

 

Different food products have vastly different business requirements. For example, honey and beef jerky can be widely distributed because they can be sealed and they take forever to spoil — so you're encouraged to spread the word wide. But if you're selling ice cream, which is WAY harder to distribute, you'd best start with a super-loyal fanbase wherever you can make it fresh, then expand smartly.

Fortunately, this is a great era for "local food" to make its resurgence. So even if you're not trying to start the next Nabisco, know that there's still a ton of potential in remaining local and serving smaller markets well.  

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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New business owners are like new parents. They're so thrilled and clueless it's cute. Their experience raising the business/baby becomes so defining that they can't help but talk about it (a lot). 

In public, they talk positive. They don't dredge out dirty details. They don't talk about the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the occasional existential terror—instead keeping those thoughts tucked behind smiling eyes. 

But if they find out you're a new parent yourself—or plan to be soon—the war stories come out. Everyone has their tales to tell.

Those new-parent, new-business-owner war stories have two things in common:

  1. An emotional cocktail made with several parts urgency, and
  2. A unifying principle that everything should be fine if you (A) have what you need and (B) do your best. 

Doing your best? That's something to figure out on your own.
Getting together what you need? It's a short list, and it's right here.

You'll manage your first business fine if you start out equipped and work your way forward. This article will briefly explain the 5 things you need to start and run your own business.

 

— Consider This —
If a modern country like Finland can figure out every baby's needs starting out
(and literally give parents a standard box with that stuff)
you'd better believe we've got the bare essentials for business in one article. 

 

1. Something to Sell

This seems obvious—but we've talked to some people who seem to think they should be paid for (basically) just doing their thing.

 

They're not necessarily being vain, self-important, or entitled. But they don't make the connection that whatever you sell has to be valuable to someone else, to the point that THEY attribute monetary value to your work and choose to pay you for it.

Backing up a step: are you selling goods, services, or some hybrid of the two? And yes, this is one of those questions that EVERY business should be able to answer quickly and simply, no matter how big or small.

Nike sells goods. 
Dentists and dry cleaners sell services. 
Restaurants and car companies sell hybrids of the two.

Sounds like simple stuff, but selling goods and selling services are vastly different things (we've seen both—Code&Quill only sells goods, but some of our other/former businesses have only sold services). Sometimes "crossing the streams" and selling both goods and services is just fine, advantageous even. But especially if you're a new business, do your homework first and make sure you'll be maximizing profits (gaining) more than you're splitting resources (losing).    

 

2. A Place to Sell It 

Other times, people forget that whatever you sell has to be sold in some kind of marketplace. People don't just magically show up at your door to buy your shit.

Whether it's a physical location, one or more online storefronts, or even just word-of-mouth in a social network, you have to "exist somewhere" to do business.

If you're selling goods: can you sell them online, in person, or both? You might have to test, but figure it out: which sales channels are most profitable against your time and resources? Again, "crossing the streams" and selling in multiple places can be advantageous, but be sure you're doing it strategically.

If you're selling services, it just depends on what you're doing. If you're in our readership, you're likely to be somewhat tech- and Internet-savvy—and TONS of skills like yours can be sold and serviced remotely. Remember that, nowadays, people are far more likely to turn to the Internet for help anyway; if you're professionally available in the right places online and you can make remote clients happy, you've just carved out a living for yourself.

 

3. Reason for People to Buy

You know what you're selling, and you know where you can sell it. Great start!

There's only one problem: you're very, very unlikely to be the first person selling that product or service. So how do you convince people to buy from YOU rather than your competitors? Why will they like yours better? 

And in the first place... how do you make your (potential) customers aware that they want your product or service? How will they know you even exist?

This is basically marketing in a couple of paragraphs. Successful businesses deliver good products and services, yes—but they also know who they're trying to serve and how to reach those people so that sales are possible. If you can answer those questions, you've got a basic marketing strategy.

The variables are infinite, but here's some short marketing advice: as a new business, it's usually a bad idea to compete on price. That's what companies bigger than you are built to do; they're playing a volume game already. Instead, try to serve particular markets particularly well and offer them a unique experience so that price isn't such an issue.  

 

4. An Updated Toolbox

If you've got something to sell, a place to sell it, and some compelling motivations for people to buy, you've gotten through the abstract stuff.

At least, enough to get started. Obviously, your knowledge of your business and its market(s) will evolve over time.

But now, it's time to start putting rubber to road. You've got blueprints... where's the toolbox?

No, the toolbox, not the puppy b— whatever, close enough.

Any literal, physical tools you need, you'll have to figure out on your own. But there are some other "tool needs," often software, that are common to new businesses:  

Tools for accepting payments. Square (as one example) works great for both small-scale point-of-sale (POS) payments and for online invoicing. Expect to lose 3-4% of each payment to processing—but it's a fair trade, since it's easy to access and there's no monthly fee.

Tools for email collection and communication. Email is the lifeblood of marketing for tons of businesses, whether product- or service-based. Even if you do it informally, you want to keep your email list in good condition (and growing as much as possible). Tools like MailChimp can be outgrown pretty fast if you have robust email management needs—but by the same token, it can be a great starting point. 

Tools for accounting and record-keeping. It should be obvious that, if you run your own business, you'll need to track the business's financials. But it's also REALLY important to keep track of your performance data, your ideas, and project details for your work. You ARE the business now, so don't leave it to your memory!

For accounting stuff, we'd recommend checking out Mint and/or Quickbooks. For tracking everything else, try to keep your notes consolidated. For digital, we recommend apps like Evernote. For analog... well, we're a notebook company! 

 

5. Legal Standing for All of the Above

OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE, you think. GET ME OUT OF THIS ARTICLE I DON'T WANNA READ ABOUT—

Yo.

 

Relax.

We've only got five paragraphs here and we just blew four of them to calm you down. OK? So do us a favor—no, do yourself a favor—and read one more paragraph.

In tons of cases, everything you legally need can be completed in one afternoon. It's not (fundamentally) complicated, it's not super lengthy, and it doesn't mean Uncle Sam will spy (more) on you. People do this stuff every day and you could be one of them. (If you stopped reading right now but heard that it's totally doable, you'd have gotten the main point.)  

. . .

But here's a sixth paragraph (oops) so you've got some specifics to Google. (1) You'll need to register your business in one state (probably where you live). Officially speaking, you'll probably want to start with that state's Secretary of State. (2) You'll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. That's the business equivalent of a SSN (social security number). It's all online. (3) To receive payments as an official business entity, you'll need to add DBA ("Doing Business As") to your existing bank account OR open a separate bank account for your business (no harder than setting up a typical checking account—just ask the bankers).        

. . .

With that, you should be set to hit the road! If you're excited, good—you should be! And don't worry if you feel like a silly amateur... we all did once. Silly doesn't hurt. 

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

 

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When Code&Quill started, it was a paper company founded by a computer geek — a notebook brand created by someone who usually tries to avoid writing.

Who’d have thunk it, right?

But there’s a time when, even to someone like Ronak, the computer doesn’t cut it. Like many of our customers, Ronak is a techie—and like many of them, he eventually realized he could think and problem-solve more effectively when he wrote things out by hand.

Taking notes and drawing pictures made him a better programmer—so he needed a notebook.

The features Ronak wanted in his notebook—like a wider trim size, thicker pages, and a sturdy lay-flat binding—existed elsewhere, but never all together. Pursuing the “ideal design” for notebooks was reason enough to start Code&Quill, and sure enough, we get consistent praise for our product design and build quality.

But the “People’s Choice Award for Best Code&Quill Feature" goes to our page layouts. It’s our dot grid and indentation rule — and the unique combination of them together, left side and right side — that elevates a Code&Quill notebook from “well-built” to “purpose-built."

Since our page layouts have been a major selling point for our notebooks, we’re using this article to tell you how we designed our classic dot-grid and indentation-rule layouts. We’ll also answer some “layout FAQs” for anyone curious—and anyone wondering what notebooks are still around the corner.

 

The Dot Grid, Explained

For our original notebooks, the left-hand page was always meant for drawing and diagramming. So for left-hand pages, the question became: what’s the best layout for doing drawings and diagrams?

The dot grid seemed like the best compromise. A blank page seemed to have too little structure, while a lined grid seemed to force too much structure. With the dots, you get the benefits of a blank page OR a lined grid—depending upon how much you choose to notice the dots.

By itself, there’s nothing super-original about our dot grid. The dots are about 1/2 millimeter in diameter and they’re centered 5mm apart from one another, both vertically and horizontally. Super simple stuff.

 

The Indentation Rule, Explained

Quite literally on the other hand: the right-hand pages were always intended for notes. So in their case, the question became: what’s the best page layout for notes?

A lined page makes obvious sense here. For line height, a standard narrow ruling (1/4 inch, or 6.4mm, between lines) felt “just right” — not too tall, not too small — so we stuck with that measurement.

But our narrow-ruled lines needed one more thing to guide users. What makes the indentation rule unique is the series of faint vertical hash marks running along the bottom of each line to help you find your spot. This visual cue is vital for anyone trying to properly draft code or tiered lists—and surprisingly helpful for tidying any other notes, too.

 

 

Some Layout FAQs

Is there any way you could align the rows of dots on the left with lines on the right? Nice as that might be, it's not currently possible. The dot grid and indentation rule won't "vertically sync" because their spacing is different — 5mm for the dot grid, 6.4mm for the indentation rule. 

Theoretically, it'd be possible if we spaced the dot grid at 6.4mm instead of 5mm, but you lose a surprising amount of grid that way. Not worth the trade!

 

Is there any way the page layouts could be printed darker on the paper? We are considering that possibility. For the original design, lightly-shaded printing was important because we really didn't want the page layouts getting in the way. But lots of people have asked us to print them darker (and virtually no one has asked us to print them lighter).

If we make a change here, it'll be slight. Our design goal is to make the printing as dark as it needs to be — but not a shade darker.

 

What layout options will be available in the future? Originally, we offered ONLY the split layout: dot grid on left, indentation rule on right. Then we offered the Monolith in indentation-rule-only. 

The trend continues: we want to offer dot-grid-only in the future. Plenty of you have asked for it, and we totally get why. Besides, we may as well fill out the triad, right? 

Lastly, we eventually want to offer these expanded layout options in our Origin and Traveler notebooks. They won't be Monolith-exclusive forever! 

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

 

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Some of you are probably wondering: what in the hell is a scrum, and why are some of my friends frothy about it? 

Yeah, it can be a little confusing when someone busts that word out—

—and you still think it's the stuff they scrape off the bottom of ships.

But this funny little word is behind a huge pedigree of success—and there are reasons that some people get so passionate about it. 

What do tech giants, winning start-ups, and the biggest corporate turnarounds in history share? Say hi to Scrum. In this post, we'll catch you up on the basics. 

 

The Book

We don't make many book recommendations.

Partly, we don't read tons. Partly, we expect you're busy and picky like we are. 

Having said that, just consider that this entire post is basically a book recommendation.

Entitled Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, it's written by Jeff and J.J. Sutherland (father and son, respectively). It's a quick read, it's got great case studies, and it does find ways to both illustrate the point and make it applicable. 

Scrum is one of those easy-to-learn but hard-to-neatly-explain concepts. If we're boiling Scrum down to three quick pieces of advice, they are streamline, stand up, and check in. Let's talk just a little about each.

 

Streamline

One big problem for lots of projects is that they're just... big. They're complicated, they have lots of parts and contingencies, and through no one's fault, it can be easy for any one person to get confused. 

But even if that's no one's fault, complication costs time—and to big companies, lots of money.

Now, the solution is NOT to make a plan so detailed you need an atomic microscope to read it. As discussed in the book, that's the mistake many companies make—to the point that some people, their ENTIRE job is just keeping the flow charts and plans tidy.

Remember what happens to best-laid plans? 

Now, you might be saying to us: but guys, we build software. (As one example.) This stuff can't be dumbed down and we need to plan it out.

Yes, of course, you should have the big picture handy. But it's asinine to believe you can work long periods in isolation without missing something. That's how you waste huge amounts of your own time. 

Keep it simple. Plan 3 steps ahead, not 30. And remember that a working prototype is always better than a perfect concept.

 

Stand Up

One of the practices that helps Scrum work is the stand-up meeting — so named because you traditionally stand up on your turn to report. They're brief, usually no more than 15 minutes, and that's by design: a stand-up is supposed to be quick and simple so you can get back to what you're doing. 

A few vital things happen at stand-up meetings. The first is that team members inform one another what's going on. Specifically, each member is supposed to share two things: (1) what they've done since the last meeting and (2) what they're going to do before the next one. 

The second is that team members hold one another accountable, even if no one gets "called out" per se. Think about it: it can get real awkward if the only thing to share is that YOU didn't do what YOU said you would last week (and it's therefore still on your plate this week). 

The third is that team members can help one another with problems. Scrum is NOT designed so teams can micromanage each other. Quite the opposite: it takes into account that being stuck is a waste of time — and that five heads are way better than one for solving most problems (or coming up with ideas). 

 

Check In

There's one more foundation of Scrum that makes teams and meetings way more useful: they can make sure their work is actually working.

Part of the problem with big, long plans is that, if something takes a long time to build, there's more possibility that someone will be off doing work.

So if you're a manager and you only check in once per quarter, you might be disappointed at what your reports have done. But check in every week, much more briefly, and there aren't surprises for anyone.

One of Scrum's "rules" is that, each time you check in, you should have something working that wasn't before. Focusing on small units of usefulness—features here, modules there—can eventually add up to most of your product, assuming those little units are smartly conceived. Little things can be built fast and tested fast; big things can sometimes meander for months before they shit the bed anyway.

One last note: Scrum is not simply for internal use, for getting more done in the office. Some of Scrum is reflected in good customer service: staying in touch, getting feedback, and taking swift action are examples of the magic in action, especially when they're done all at once.

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

 

 

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Most things can be distilled WAY down if you try.

Take entrepreneurship.

It seems complicated and difficult by its nature (and that's part of the glamour).

But boil it down and it's not so scary.

For instance, the word entrepreneur (which is already more pretentious-sounding for being French) translates, more or less, to one who undertakes projects. Since "entrepreneur" is considered an occupation, it's implied that you make your living from your enterprises, whatever they may be.

But therefore, in simplified terms...

Entrepreneur = person who makes their income by doing projects

See? Not so complicated.

But still useful—a definition like this highlights the key difference for entrepreneurs. They make an income because of their work, not because of their job.

Having said what an entrepreneur is, let's get to the real meat of this article: how entrepreneurship boils down to a single, simple equation.

Once you understand the equation better, you might find completely new ways to...

  • Get more done every day
  • Increase your earnings
  • Decrease your daily stress

... whether you're in business for yourself OR employed in more traditional fashion.

So here's the equation:

Time = Money

 

That's right. Time is money. You've heard it before. Written out as a sentence, it's practically a cliché. But turn it into an equation and you can manipulate it in useful ways.

Think back to algebra class. Most of algebra revolves around one simple rule: whatever you do to one side of the equation, you must also do to the other.

So, for example:

2(Time) = 2(Money)

That would be a mathematical way of explaining that (for example) if you work twice as many shifts, you should expect double your usual income. Seems logical, right?

Just to keep you thinking this way: notice that most typical wages can be expressed in these sorts of algebraic terms. Like...

1 hour = $10.25
1 year = $60,000

If you have a job and know what to expect on each paycheck (or shift), you don't need to think about much else if you don't want to.

But entrepreneurs' income is variable—for the most part, they eat what they kill. They don't have perfectly predictable paychecks. So equations like Time = Money (and thinking algebraically) become all the more essential.

For the rest of this article, we'll walk you through 4 ways that Time = Money can be applied in your life and can help you earn BOTH things back.

 

1. Fast Around the House

Laundry, cleaning, cooking, and other household tasks don't take tons of time—but they take more time than most people expect.

Plus, most people prefer the "lazy Sunday" pace. But they could all be done much faster, and that's where you can earn back hours from single changes.

Take, for example, grocery shopping. Might take an hour a week, right? But when you count making a list, driving there, walking around the store, checking out, driving home, and putting everything away, it's probably double that, if not triple.

But I can't just not go to the grocery store, you think.

Ah — you must not have (discovered) Instacart. If it's available in your area, you should try it. You pay a bit of a premium—maybe 15% extra, give or take.

So instead of paying $100 to go get your groceries, you'd pay $115 to have them delivered. Might strike a nerve to you. But remember:

Time = Money
2-3 hours per week (grocery store) = $15 per week (Instacart)
Cost to buy back your own time = $5 to $7.50 per hour

Pretty cheap—considering what you could do (and/or earn back) with 2 or 3 hours of sudden free time.

 

2. Maximize (Truly) Valuable Time

Here's another nuance of the Time = Money equation: not all time is created equal. Some hours spent are more productive than others. The productive times might yield actual cash, but they can also be valuable without yielding a single dime right then.

Let's say, for example, you run a small store where you sell handmade goods. When you're not at store, you're keeping records, ordering supplies, and of course, making the products themselves.

Get as granular as you want—the point is that a business like this only makes money during their "selling hours." Yes, you have to make your goods before you sell them—so workshop time matters. But no one pays you directly for your hours in the workshop, and the distinction matters. 

If a business like this wants to make more money, they should consider optimizing (and/or maximizing) their storefront hours — and of course, doing what they can online, where goods can be sold 24/7.

  

3. Eliminate Needless Motion

In ANY business, whether it's manufacturing or consulting, there's one kind of time that's almost always wasteful: time spent in motion.

Think about day-to-day transit. Most people drive. While they drive, they can't do much else. They can talk on the phone, maybe.

And in America, people drive a LOT. Think about going to the grocery store. How much time would you need door-to-door, both directions? A fair amount, probably, even for that one simple errand.

This kind of "waste" adds up fast. But get creative with one little rule and you can shed tons of needless time.

Here's the one little rule: eliminate needless motionYou'd be surprised how many goods and services can come to you—just Google it. Per the Instacart math, the extra cost is often justifiable.

If nothing else, start combining more errands while you're out. And for heaven's sake, don't be ashamed to get dinner delivered on a busy night. 

By the Way

When you're doing the math, it's worth being nit-picky. There's a reason (profitable) manufacturing and shipping floors try to eliminate 4 steps (of walking) here and 2 steps there—because 4s and 2s are small savings for steps walked, but not when you multiply them by 500 cycles per day, 330 days per year, 50 workers at a time.  

 

 

4. Economies of Scale

Anyone who's shopped at Costco or Sam's Club already understands economies of scale: the more money you can spend at a time, the further you can stretch each dollar you spend. 

So the simple advice consider a Costco/Sam's Club membership belongs right here.

But there are also economies of scale for time. Most activities become more productive when we can do them for longer periods of time.

A simple example: doing all the laundry in your house might take a while, but it's much faster per garment than doing one small load at a time. (Doubly true when you combine multiple people's laundry.) 

In terms of Time = Money, economies of scale means that...

Time = Output, but...
2(Time) = 3(Output)

So another round of simple advice: figure out how to "batch" whatever you can. Look for ways to save yourself time by working ahead!

Next week, we'll be back with more useful advice—and our pithy "Spark Notes" for an excellent book on productivity. Want to get twice the work done in half the time? Check back next Tuesday for a Code&Quill briefing on Scrum! 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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As many of y'all know, we're two-time Kickstarter veterans, and we have a lot of good things to say about them.

We literally wouldn't exist without (something like) Kickstarter. Did they help us make our notebooks? Not exactly—but they helped connect us to you, and that was just as important.

Kickstarter invented a platform for inventions — somewhere that creators and consumers both want to be. They deserve a ton of credit for that—because it's not just Code&Quill they've helped. It's thousands of other businesses. 

Kickstarter recently posted on their blog about their economic impact, sharing the findings of an independent UPenn/Wharton School study

It's pretty astounding stuff. 

The 5 findings that surprise and impress us most:

1. Kickstarter creates jobs without employing people. In other words: Kickstarter is the reason lots of people can make their own jobs. And because people are on Kickstarter to make something original, the platform opens up profitable work that would not have existed otherwise.

2. Kickstarter activity is all over America. As you'd expect, there are concentrations of Kickstarter campaigns in major cities—but they're out in the boonies, too. If you can connect to the Internet, you can make it happen. And people do! 

3. About one in five people who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign was still employed full-time by their project when surveyed later.

4. Code&Quill is one of the companies included in that 18.7% figure — and it fully employs not only its 1 original member, but its additional team members as well. 

 

5. A lot of really cool things were Kickstarter things. In the beginning, there was just Kickstarter. But then Pebble was a Kickstarter thing. Oculus was a Kickstarter thing. Exploding Kittens was a Kickstarter thing. In short: there are many cool Kickstarter things, and more still coming.

 

Our comments on Kickstarter:

From Ronak, founder and El Capitán of Code&Quill:
"Kickstarter is such a fantastic idea for people who want to start turning their products into business. Code&Quill was once an untested idea, nothing more—but because of places like Kickstarter, I could find out if people were interested in buying my notebooks before sinking tons of time and money into creating them. Even better, I could gather my start-up resources directly from those backers. I sank $500 of my own cash—not $50,000—because Kickstarter created this lean and low-risk option for raising money.

"I love that crowdfunding spaces like Kickstarter have blown up. It means so many fresh talents get a chance to open up shop and really innovate wherever they are. And what's awesome, too, is that your first crowdfunding supporters can become your best evangelists and repeat customers. They're passionate people, and there's nothing better than having a passionate and excited fan base. Our fans and customers are what make any of this effort worthwhile." 

 
From Kevin, main thing-doer at Code&Quill:
"We could not have started with better 'first customers' than our Kickstarter backers. I think they appreciate detail like we do, they enjoy exercising creative muscles, and they are willing to invest. That's so helpful for making Code&Quill the friendly, inclusive, intelligent brand that we want it to be. And everywhere I turn, there's someone in the Code&Quill family who's enthusiastic about what they do, which is motivating. 

"I want to thank anyone who's bought their first Code&Quill notebook because I know paying $15-25 for a notebook requires you to invest a little trust. To pay that back, we ship damn good products and back 'em with VIP-level customer service, always. But Kickstarter folks? They invested trust and faith. We can't pay their faith back—but we can say it's made one corner of the world a little happier, and that should say a lot about Kickstarter." 

 

——————————

 

Next week, we'll be talking about time and money — the two essential resources for creatives in business — and the "algorithm" you need to start thinking at your most productive. 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram.

 

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Dearest Code&Quill Family,

This may not be entirely romantic, but we've realized something that we need to share with you. 

We're really, really lucky to have you.

Sure, we're a business—so we like taking your money when you buy stuff. (Like we said, not entirely romantic.)

BUT we do really care about the stuff we sell—and, in a phrase, we want our stuff to make people happy. Otherwise, what's the point?

We've been thrilled to hear (and see!) the signs that Code&Quill is making the world a happier, more thoughtful, and more productive place. We've also been glad to hear candid feedback (positive and negative) so that we can improve our products for everyone. 

We keep track of all feedback/reviews/comments/emails. But now and again, we get a true gem—the kind of customer message that brings us smiles (or laughs) for months.

On the occasion of Valentine's Day — when we have an excuse to dote on you — we want to thank you for "sending in the love" by sharing the best that's been sent to us.

If you don't believe us when we say you're awesome, just check out the ACTUAL messages and reviews below:

 

1. This Amazon reviewer who wanted to see who was still reading by the last paragraph —

 

2. All things pizza as drawn and photographed on Instagram by the one and only @mbeero —

 

3. The guy nicknamed "Ammo" who—at our request—actually put that nickname on his shipping address just so we could say we'd "shipped 'Ammo' through the mail."

 

We're selling a special Valentine's Day bundle—14% off!
Click above or right here to get it—only until midnight Thursday!

 

4. Ammo coming back to show us that his Code&Quills were given as prizes in a youth tech competition (hooray!) —

5. Seeing the Monolith as the main accessory of a matching outfit — love the look, @briightkk!

6. One of our biggest fans, CodeGirlCode, who has put her Code&Quills to work on Instagram for all to see —

 

7. A reviewer who named his Code&Quill "Gideon" (anyone get the joke? is there a joke?) —

8. Instagrammers like @babydollxo33 who fill their C&Q pages with color, meticulous detail, and purpose all at once

 

Like we mentioned above, take advantage of our Valentine's-only Jack & Rose Bundle — it's 14% off and available only until midnight on Thursday, February 16. One last chance... check it out here to share the love. 

We'll be back to share more next week. Until then, thanks again for writing in, and thanks again for using Code&Quill as your notebook—we're happy to have you as part of the family.

Cheers and love,
The Code&Quill Team 

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