Shop Etsy

Quit Your Day Job: LittleHouses

Jun 14, 2010

by Mary Andrews handmade and vintage goods

Shanah, the business brains and seamstress behind LittleHouses, spent 12 years working in restaurants and pubs before kissing her late hours goodbye to sell her clothing line full time on Etsy. When feeling discouraged, Shanah would peruse the Quit Your Day Job series for motivation to reach her own goal. She now spends her days sewing in a shared studio space with eight local designers and loves knowing her work supports her own financial needs.

How did you originally get into the business of making things?
I have always been into making things. I learned how to knit at a young age and I was pretty much hooked on crafts from there. I sewed my first quilt when I was 15 and I loved the idea of creating something totally functional. I started up a small T-shirt and bag business with my best friend when we were in art school together. From there I got so excited about clothes and the prospect of being able to make them that I dropped out of art school and enrolled in the fashion design program.

Tell us about your previous working situation.
I have a 12 year background in the restaurant/pub industry. It really helped financially when I was first starting up my business. It is a very exhausting job, though, and I was starting to get really tired of the late nights. When I first started my business I would work all day sewing and then all night at the pub. I did that six days a week for almost two years. Even though it sucked at the time, it was totally worth it in the end.

When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Oh, completely. I used to read the Quit Your Day Job articles all the time. I found them so inspiring. Anytime I would start to get discouraged or lazy with my business goals I would just read one of these articles and it would get me so motivated to keep pushing. I always knew that I wasn’t meant to work for someone else. It’s amazing to me how much this site has helped my career. If it wasn’t for Etsy, I definitely would not have been able to quit my day job.

Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
I actually was completely unprepared the whole way through! I honestly was just going from one day to the next. I had no solid business plan. I had no money saved and no financial plan whatsoever. I just went with what was working and hoped for the best; luckily it worked out in the end!

What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
I haven’t done a whole lot of marketing but have had success posting ads on blogs that linked back to my Etsy shop. Posting to my blog and Facebook page have also been helpful marketing tools.

What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion? Have you made any business mistakes you regret?
I don’t think that I have had any unsuccessful promotions. I think any promotion is a successful one. If one person sees your shop who has never seen it before, it’s a success. I have definitely made a lot of mistakes along the way but I try to just learn from them rather than regret them. Running a business is very new to me so I’m taking it all in stride as I move forward.

Walk us through your typical workday.

  • I try and get out of bed before 8 every day.
  • I make coffee and check my Etsy emails.
  • I do all my shipping invoices through PayPal at home, so I usually have a few packages to ship and drop off at the post office.
  • Then I go straight to my studio, which I share with eight other local designers.
  • I generally work on about ten orders at a time. I cut out all the patterns, sew them and package them up for shipping.
  • There is usually at least one trip a week to the fabric store as well.
  • I normally stay at the studio until about 6 or 7, and that is pretty much my everyday routine.

What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
I don’t miss a single thing! I still technically work a “day job,” I guess, but it is completely on my terms. It is so much fun being able to just make stuff, hang out with great girls all day in a super cozy, creative environment and know that I am only working so that I can make money, not so someone else can. It really is my ideal job, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
The hardest part for me is keeping the paperwork and the finances organized. I never took a business course before so I am just kind of learning as I go. I made a lot of mistakes along the way but I’m also realizing that that is the best way to learn.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else?
The only advice I can think of is to save all of the money you make from the business and reinvest it. That’s something that I was really bad at in the beginning. I think I’m getting better at it now, but it took a long time to get organized.

What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
I’ve come to realize that fall is a really busy time for me, so this year I am going to be prepared! Last year kind of blindsided me and it was really stressful. I was totally behind the whole time, so my goal is to be more organized and prepared this year. I want my shop to continue to grow and the only way for that to happen is if I stay on top of it.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
As much as I love my current work situation, it is definitely a lot of work. I put a lot of hours into this business but the benefits of all that work are totally worth it.

Thanks to Shanah for sharing her story. You can see some of Shanah‘s work in the Related Items.
Check out previous Quit Your Day Job
posts here.


  • dreamyvintage

    dreamyvintage said 9 years ago

    Congratulations, wonderful article! I adore your shop, especially the coats!

  • bonjourpierre

    bonjourpierre said 9 years ago

    I would love to quit my day job too!

  • manvsgeorge

    manvsgeorge said 9 years ago

    Lovely items and GORGEOUS photos! No wonder you are doing great! Keep creating... :-)

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt said 9 years ago

    love your work, continued success to you. xoSherry

  • BululuStudio

    BululuStudio said 9 years ago

    wow, congrats! great article.

  • sonyarasi

    sonyarasi said 9 years ago

    Love the Normanville in red! Congratulations!

  • PookieandPierre

    PookieandPierre said 9 years ago

    Congratulations, I LOVE your shop! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  • MollyMayhem

    MollyMayhem said 9 years ago

    I've loved your designs since I saw them a year ago! Thanks for the inspiration and great advice ~ I'm hoping to get my shop open soon!

  • roseandroot

    roseandroot said 9 years ago

    Great interview! Congratulations on your success! We love the coats and the product shots.

  • revampedart

    revampedart said 9 years ago

    Congrats! Your stuff is great! I love it

  • shizendesigns

    shizendesigns said 9 years ago

    You have a beautiful shop!

  • DomusModern

    DomusModern said 9 years ago

    I love your coats!

  • TheMegShop

    TheMegShop said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring! Love your shop!

  • blackbirdtees

    blackbirdtees said 9 years ago

    I've been an admirer for a while, and it's so nice to learn more about you & your shop. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!

  • aBreathofFrenchair

    aBreathofFrenchair said 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story! I love your designs!

  • cuteandcreepy

    cuteandcreepy said 9 years ago

    Inspiring and lovely designs!

  • definitionofself

    definitionofself said 9 years ago

    I love this series.

  • poplovedesigns

    poplovedesigns said 9 years ago

    I adore little houses' goodies, it's very inspiring to hear her story! Keep it up! <3 Andrea

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 9 years ago

    Wow Shanah, when I feel discouraged here at my desk job I peruse the Quit-your-day-job series as well! Sitting here hoping some day I can work from home too. I have always loved your Shakespeare's Sister coat, and the Ada Coat is a new favorite! Thanks for a great read; congrats on your success!!

  • treasurebooth

    treasurebooth said 9 years ago

    Awesome! Congrats on your success :)

  • EJPcreations

    EJPcreations said 9 years ago

    Such a great article! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • StarRedesigns

    StarRedesigns said 9 years ago

    I do love your Fontaine jacket so much!! If I had enough money, I'd certainly buy it. :)

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 9 years ago

    So inspiring. Congratulations! Lovely line of clothing!

  • NaturalAmber

    NaturalAmber said 9 years ago

    cONGRATULATIONS! This was so inspiring to read. You make such wonderful items too. Wishing you much more success in the years to come.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 9 years ago

    Great article and congratulations!

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 9 years ago

    love these articles! they motivate me!! thanks littlehouses,for sharing your expertise!

  • BeCharmedDesigns

    BeCharmedDesigns said 9 years ago

    Love your designs!! Thanks for sharing your story with us. :)

  • anirtak

    anirtak said 9 years ago

    congratulations!! I've been a huge fan of LittleHouses' work for quite some time and it was lovely to read about her background before starting full time on Etsy.

  • GlassElephant

    GlassElephant said 9 years ago

    First off, your clothing are so pretty! I loved reading your article. It too was very inspiring!

  • LIDOSkincare

    LIDOSkincare said 9 years ago

    Thanks for this has inspired me to keep chuggin' away at my business! Beautifully structured coats as well!

  • eeekdesigns

    eeekdesigns said 9 years ago

    I remember when we meet on QUEEN ST! You gave me some awesome advice that really helped me out when I was new to etsy. I'm so happy to see you featured for the second time. YOU ROCK!

  • cherryshop

    cherryshop said 9 years ago

    This interview is a really inspiring one! Thank you!!!

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry said 9 years ago

    great interview... congrats on your shop, love your stuff!

  • secondlux

    secondlux said 9 years ago

    very inspiring... your coats are adorable! to your continued success! xo

  • sarahknightdesign

    sarahknightdesign said 9 years ago

    OMG! That red coat seriously rocks! LittleHouse has major talent:) Congrats on your successful shop!

  • PrairieSeed

    PrairieSeed said 9 years ago

    really love her beautiful clothes, good luck!!

  • windfall

    windfall said 9 years ago

    I love your work. And one day, I hope to own something!;)

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome said 9 years ago

    Congratulations. I love your work.

  • marcelacamargo

    marcelacamargo said 9 years ago

    Wow, I love your work! Great article!

  • babinka1981

    babinka1981 said 9 years ago

    Great items! wonderful!

  • Morado

    Morado said 9 years ago

    I absolutely love her designs!

  • DreamGallery

    DreamGallery said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  • flygirl715

    flygirl715 said 9 years ago

    I read the "Quit Your Day Job" series, too, for a pick-me-up...hoping to one day be able to do just that. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • galstudio

    galstudio said 9 years ago

    Great design!

  • SatinandBirch

    SatinandBirch said 9 years ago

    Im so glad to know more about you, I have admired your clothing since I have been on Etsy, thanks for the post.

  • janellehaskin

    janellehaskin said 9 years ago

    The Ada Coat is AMAZING!!!

  • poppyswickedgarden

    poppyswickedgarden said 9 years ago

    Great Article and designs:) I am looking into a studio like yours too since we have moved into a small cottage that is getting terribly cluttered!

  • PinkDotsCheetahSpots

    PinkDotsCheetahSpots said 9 years ago

    love the article and great work on your clothes!

  • erinsapparel

    erinsapparel said 9 years ago

    Last year I came across and admired Little Houses work while browsing etsy (this was before I had an account to mark my favorite shops). Last week I was just thinking how to find these wonderful coats again and Bing! here's a feature. Very beautiful coats and great photography. Glad Little Houses is getting recognized!

  • TheZestyDesk

    TheZestyDesk said 9 years ago

    I too read these articles for inspiration and this article has been truly motivating. Congrats on your success!

  • CambriRae

    CambriRae said 9 years ago

    That article is so inspiring!

  • CyanideStitches

    CyanideStitches said 9 years ago

    Congrats! I absolutely LOVE LittleHouses, and this totally motivates me to just go all in and get my little clothing line I've been secretly working on out there. Beautiful work!

  • tinybirdarts

    tinybirdarts said 9 years ago

    Wow, she's got some impressive sales! It's nice to see someone making a real living :)

  • whimsypie

    whimsypie said 9 years ago

    I was so excited when I saw Little Houses was featured. This shop has been one of my favourites for some time now, and I love learning just a little more about the person behind it all. Thanks, for the article and for your work!

  • vintAGELESSbeauty

    vintAGELESSbeauty said 9 years ago

    Wow, that was really inspirational and fun to read. I want to be you. :)

  • cleobelle

    cleobelle said 9 years ago

    love ♥ your work!!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 9 years ago

    i love your style, the big buttons and pleats are fabulous.

  • silkstory

    silkstory said 9 years ago

    Inspiring story! For me the same-I am reading these articles and every time getting closer to idea about quiting day job! Thank you for your story!

  • pamwares

    pamwares said 9 years ago

    someday I want to be in your shoes! I have your jackets since stumbling upon them on a blog!

  • CindyEllison

    CindyEllison said 9 years ago

    Love your designs, Shanah. A great article and it is wonderful you are doing what you love. May you have continued success!

  • allthepreciousthings

    allthepreciousthings said 9 years ago

    Love your clothes :)

  • VitalVintage

    VitalVintage said 9 years ago

    Such a lovely shop! Thanks for the super inspiring story.

  • HoveBeads

    HoveBeads said 9 years ago

    Wow, lovely shop! I really love variety of the coats available in store! Great article, I understand, I used to be in the hotel industry for 7 years. I fully understand how tough it is in that business. It is not easy, working odd shifts, long hours you name it. I am also starting my own business. I am pretty new to the business world. I am starting a bead art and craft store, specializing in beaded sculpture and jewellery design.

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet said 9 years ago

    Some good advice thanks.

  • CharliesApt

    CharliesApt said 9 years ago

    These stories never get old!!

  • GemuineCreations

    GemuineCreations said 9 years ago

    Great story and Congratulations on your success!

  • redstarINK

    redstarINK said 9 years ago

    so inspirational.

  • StylesbyHolly

    StylesbyHolly said 9 years ago

    These stories always motivate me, congrats on a GREAT job! I adore all your work, especially the coats.

  • missmel159

    missmel159 said 9 years ago

    I love reading all the quite your day job stories, and I really liked hearing about what you are doing. It was really interesting to hear you are working from a studio space as well. I absolutely love your clothes! :))

  • KarensLoom

    KarensLoom said 9 years ago

    Loved your coats... congrats on your shop.

  • trillity

    trillity said 9 years ago

    Inspiring! Sharing a work space is such a good idea....hmmmmm!!!

  • laurennotloren

    laurennotloren said 9 years ago

    Thanks for this!! I have had a hiatus of sorts and been wanting to really get more into Etsy and my shop. Reading these (like you said!) are a wonderful boost of motivation! Wishing you continued success, I LOVE your style.

  • OsoVictoria

    OsoVictoria said 9 years ago

    Love your story, you are an inspiration, thanks for sharing!

  • MyTrinketShopOnline

    MyTrinketShopOnline said 9 years ago

    It's so encouraging when you read these kinds of stories.. Thank you for sharing your experience! it means a lot to those struggling like ME! :) Wish you more success!!!!

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 9 years ago

    Another admirer here. Love your aesthetic and story of immense dedication to your vision! Perseverance furthers. Best wishes!

  • dephglm

    dephglm said 9 years ago

    It's so wonderful to read, and see, where my "power hoodie" came from! I received the Hooded Missy for my anniversary last year and it was my go to all winter long.

  • ReclaimedWreckage

    ReclaimedWreckage said 9 years ago

    Your stuff is sooooo cool. I plan on buying one of your jackets come fall. They're so cute.

  • JMMStudios

    JMMStudios said 9 years ago

    Your article is very encouraging, thank you.Beautiful shop!

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage said 9 years ago

    Very inspirational and love the clothes! Congrats on breaking free from the rat race, to pursue what you love. :)

  • MiuAndUmi

    MiuAndUmi said 9 years ago

    Great style! It's great to see a creative, non-planning-ahead type person succeed - it gives me a little hope!

  • GoodGriefGlass

    GoodGriefGlass said 9 years ago

    Continued success!

  • westbournegrove

    westbournegrove said 9 years ago

    wow! LOve your clothes! My new favorites.

  • lovelela

    lovelela said 9 years ago

    beautiful items!

  • ClassicWhimsyDesigns

    ClassicWhimsyDesigns said 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story.... so inspirational!

  • Earthystyle

    Earthystyle said 9 years ago

    I am very inspired! *love* this interview

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 9 years ago

    I love littlehouses clothes, great interview hopefully many more sales to come!

  • HelloShoes

    HelloShoes said 9 years ago

    Great coats and love the story:)

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 9 years ago

    I adore your work! I'd love to inc. your clothing art into my paintings. I wouldn't but if you lived next door I would! I also want to thank you for your advice!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 9 years ago

    Shanah, thank you so much for sharing your story. Like you, I'd love to quit the day job, but until I really buckle down, I won't be able to. Your story is inspiring and will keep me pushing along until I'm ready for the leap!

  • buttonsbyrobin

    buttonsbyrobin said 9 years ago

    Beautiful work! Congratulations on your current success and much more in the future. Robin

  • studiokmo

    studiokmo said 9 years ago

    love your beautiful shop!

  • chasedreams

    chasedreams said 9 years ago

    Your work is so lovely! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Chuletindesigns

    Chuletindesigns said 9 years ago

    beautiful coats!

  • jguilddesigns

    jguilddesigns said 9 years ago

    great inspiration! your shop caught my eye three years ago when I first starting shopping on etsy... wonderful designs and great photos... thanks for sharing!!

  • AustinJames

    AustinJames said 9 years ago

    Beautiful designs and an inspiring story! Continued success!

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 9 years ago

    I L-O-V-E the Shakespeares Sister coat! Beautiful work! Good luck to you, Shanah!

  • kidmarket

    kidmarket said 9 years ago

    Lovely items. Congrats on achieving your goal!

  • KissKitTee

    KissKitTee said 9 years ago

    It is great to hear about other people's sucesses. Good luck to you. May you make a gazillion dollars and have fun doing it!

  • jcisco112

    jcisco112 said 9 years ago

    Love Your Coats!

  • PoorJean

    PoorJean said 9 years ago

    Thank you thank you! I have been discouraged, but your story is really uplifting. I also quit my day job with no preparation whatsoever ;-)

  • DCollinsDesigns

    DCollinsDesigns said 9 years ago

    Love you work, much success!

  • sleepymoondesign

    sleepymoondesign said 9 years ago

    I was looking through your shop the other day! I am saving up for a coat from you next fall! They are perfect for Vancouver weather! And super cute too!

  • twirlaway

    twirlaway said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring! I love your coats (well all of it really)! All the best to you!

  • camstudiostore

    camstudiostore said 9 years ago

    Great story, your work is beautiful!

  • bydaybynight

    bydaybynight said 9 years ago

    Cute shop! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • CandacesCloset

    CandacesCloset said 9 years ago

    I've been admiring your work for some time. Congratulations on your success.

  • IsleOfKnots

    IsleOfKnots said 9 years ago

    love the coats. Congrats. Wishing you all the best

  • jodieflowers

    jodieflowers said 9 years ago

    I love stories like this!!

  • JustBakin

    JustBakin said 9 years ago

    Beautiful somebody buy some cookies so I can buy some clothes LOL

  • yoshibearstudio

    yoshibearstudio said 9 years ago

    What an inspirational story! Hmmm, now if I could quit my daytime job...

  • CositasSeriasVintage

    CositasSeriasVintage said 9 years ago

    gorgeous profile. love the shop! Congrats!

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 9 years ago

    What a very talented lady... wish i could make what she does!

  • Minxshop

    Minxshop said 9 years ago

    Talent!! Congratulations. :)

  • thefamilyjewels3

    thefamilyjewels3 said 9 years ago

    I love your work...wishing you continued success

  • faeriecupcake

    faeriecupcake said 9 years ago

    I love these stories...definitely inspires me...I can't wait to be "the One" someday! Congratulations to you! you deserve it!

  • hitmydreamyeyes

    hitmydreamyeyes said 9 years ago

    Your shop is awesome! You inspire all of us creative estians to work harder and enjoy what we do. Your awesome!

  • SickoJewels

    SickoJewels said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing..

  • FerntreeFlowers

    FerntreeFlowers said 9 years ago

    Congrats to you! Now you get to inspire and motivate the rest of us! :) angie

  • shellsherree

    shellsherree said 9 years ago

    Good for you, Shanah ~ and your designs are really gorgeous.

  • dollybirdboutique

    dollybirdboutique said 9 years ago

    Love this interview it just shows what is possible when you really work towards your dream x

  • 1920

    1920 said 9 years ago

    love the work. always love this section.

  • 1920

    1920 said 9 years ago

    beautiful work!

  • madebyferdy

    madebyferdy said 9 years ago

    good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MoseyDog

    MoseyDog said 9 years ago

    Very Inspiring! And amazing clothing too ;)

  • LindasFabCreations

    LindasFabCreations said 9 years ago

    Inspired!!! Thank you;o)

  • CraftedByMei

    CraftedByMei said 9 years ago

    quit your day job series has always been my favourite!

  • Tumus

    Tumus said 9 years ago

    Little Houses ROCK and one day I'm going to own a piece from your shop :) That's what makes handmade so awesome!

  • hipclothing

    hipclothing said 9 years ago

    beautiful clothes, shanah! good job.

  • contempojewels

    contempojewels said 9 years ago

    Beautiful work, I want one of everything!

  • HandmadeOnElmStreet

    HandmadeOnElmStreet said 9 years ago

    This is my dream!

  • outdooreducator

    outdooreducator said 9 years ago

    You sound exactly like me. I keep up with other jobs, but I read these eagerly EVERY week. I think of all of them I can relate best to you. Very inspiring!

  • lorenabr

    lorenabr said 9 years ago

    Lovely story :) wish I could say all that one day

  • JollieJewels

    JollieJewels said 9 years ago

    Congratulations on your succes! Keep on creating! I love your coats :-)

  • blackbird72

    blackbird72 said 9 years ago

    I love reading the Quit Your Day Job series :D

  • GrannyGrant

    GrannyGrant said 9 years ago

    I am interested in learning how you manage with retirement and insurance. Is there any sites or blogs that have that information? That is the only thing keeping me from taking my business ALL the way.... But i love, love, absolutely love the idea.

  • ElementsbyJulie

    ElementsbyJulie said 9 years ago

    Very inspirational! Congratulations on all your success Shanah :)

  • seasonsofthevalley

    seasonsofthevalley said 9 years ago

    Exactly what I needed to read on a Monday morning as I continue my quest to quit my day job! I was so down last night as I thought of starting the work, sew, work, sew schedule all over again this week.

  • PoshPursesBoutique

    PoshPursesBoutique said 9 years ago

    Lovely clothes, marking as a favorite for the next time I'm shopping for something new. Thanks for sharing!

  • nadscraft

    nadscraft said 9 years ago

    all the clothes are lovely.

  • StoneDisegno

    StoneDisegno said 9 years ago

    Some day!!!.... beautiful clothes!!

  • shesaid2

    shesaid2 said 9 years ago

    congratulations!!! all the best and DON'T STOP! xo

  • CharlieErnestNErise

    CharlieErnestNErise said 9 years ago

    Great story! The restraunt business does suck especially on those 15 hour days but it is good money at times and it does allow you the freedom to focus on your Etsy store which is why I keep doing it!

  • BobbieArt

    BobbieArt said 9 years ago

    don't quit your day job

  • BobbieArt

    BobbieArt said 9 years ago

    get a life

  • noemiah

    noemiah said 9 years ago

    Congratulations! Très inspirant! Bises de Montréal xxx

  • TheCyanPepper

    TheCyanPepper said 9 years ago

    I love the idea of sharing a studio space with other artists while working on solo projects!

  • Azmera

    Azmera said 9 years ago

    she is so inspiring.. I am also always coming to check out the QYDJ for motivation.. as in now~

  • maricfinegoods

    maricfinegoods said 9 years ago

    Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration! This is my goal as well...I'm off to sew!

  • LaCageDoree

    LaCageDoree said 9 years ago

    Thank you, sending this out to a few friend who need the inspiration.

  • WorthingtonDesigns

    WorthingtonDesigns said 9 years ago

    Beautiful Items, great inspiration, I am an 11 year restaurant worker as well!

  • sublimenprojects

    sublimenprojects said 9 years ago

    super inspiring, and the pieces are so rad--and great photos of clothes too.

  • RicochetShop

    RicochetShop said 9 years ago

    I think what's most inspiring about your particular story is that you are learning as you go and making mistakes and just doing something that you love. I feel really inspired by someone who has put in the time working those rough retail or pub jobs and just continuing to pursue something you enjoy doing and being able to move forward and that's truly commendable. I love your shop by the way! I've been eyeing a couple of your coats long before I read this article, so to find out you were able to quit your day job is just so cool! Congrats!

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