Presenting My Non-Profit, Style Lottery

Check out my organization, Style Lottery! Style Lottery is a social enterprise dedicated to sustainable fashion and fashion philanthropy.  with the desire to uplift young women in the community. Style Lottery, through nominations from community members, selects hardworking women and men from low-income communities and gives them the gift of a free clothing.

Visit the site at stylelottery.org

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Website Designed by Timi Komonibo & Featured Picture by Bunmi Ishola

TMI with Timi: Menstrual Cups 101

I’ve been getting many questions about having a “greener” period, so I made a video all about it. Here’s everything you’ve been afraid to ask about the menstrual cup. Please don’t watch if you are skirmish about natural processes relating to women’s bodies. I am not an expert, simply an enthusiast sharing information.

Minimal Waste Vlog: Kitchen Tour

In this video I share how I gradually transitioned into minimalism and zero waste. It didn’t happen overnight, but with careful consideration along the way. Check out some of the products and things that helped me reduce my waste.

What’s In My Bag: Minimal Waste Essentials

Take a peek into my bag as I get ready for a weekend trip to NYC. These are some tips to fit your favorite product into your carry-on or personal bag.

Products featured in the video:
1. ESPEROS BAGS backpack: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MAS91GY/ref=twister_B00XP064FW?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

2. Braggs Apple Cider vinegar

3. Steel tongue scraper: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LM43DWK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

4. Rosehip oil

5. Licorice root extract (oil)

6. Diva Cup (menstrual cup) or Lunette cup

7. Rose water

8. Nivea lotion

9. Altoid mints

What are your must-haves for a trip?

#VLOG Travel With Me: 5 Minutes in Germany

I was in Berlin, Germany for a few days as part of a solo trip to Europe and I wanted to share a part of my trip with you all. Special thanks to my gracious host Nik (whose cute apartment is in the background) and my classmate Lokus! Enjoy!

Photo Diary 1: All of Me

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I am no stranger to public speaking. I have spoken on countless platforms from the steps of commencement at The University of Texas at Austin to the TEDx stage at Syracuse University, but every time I’m asked to give remarks I’m just as nervous as the first time.

I have a love-hate relationship with the stage. It intimidates me and brings out the best in me. From an outsider’s perspective, my pre-speaking routine is pretty bizarre. If you listen closely in the mornings, you can hear me talking to myself emphatically in the shower. I’m practicing my inflection and almost always using my hands. Needless to say, my fingers are prunes by the time I’m done. I hardly ever memorize my speeches anymore. I prefer the art of storytelling. I believe that if what you’re saying is true, it will flow from your heart.

Before I get on stage, you can find me pacing back and forth, murmuring my remarks under my breath. Most likely, my stomach is turning and my body is tingling. I’m not certain if I’m having an allergic reaction to this speaking opportunity or just feeling nervous energy. Whatever it is, as soon as I step onto the stage, everything fades away and I transform into my public speaker persona. She is my alter-ego. Timi Komo, the girl boss. The fashion philanthropy crusader. She easily charms the crowd, demanding their attention. Gone are her awkward mannerisms. No one can tell she used to be tremendously shy in middle school. She is so bold that sometimes she overwhelms me.

I am not always that girl that people see on stage. That fact used to make me feel a bit like an impostor. Being on a platform gives the added (and often unrealistic) pressure that you always have to be ON. And although you don’t owe anyone perfection, you do owe yourself a healthy dose of self-love. I have learned to embrace the duplicity of my personality. I can deliver a killer presentation to a crowd of hundreds and I can also do an interpretative dance to Disney’s “Frozen” soundtrack for preschoolers. Both sides of me offer something of value. Quirky, confident, dramatic, or pensive– I am worthy of love.

I never want to lose my human, unpolished side. It is part of my essence. I am constantly growing into my true authentic self and I challenge everyone to do the same. I challenge you: Find out who you are when no one’s watching. Examine your natural reaction to adversity (tweet this). Explore your maximum impact environment. These aspects are crucial if we’re want to be leaders that actually make a difference in the world around us.

Photo cred: Gesiye Komo
Note: Impostor Syndrome (or the feeling that you’re somehow inadequate for the job you’re doing or opportunities you have) is not that uncommon among high achievers and go getters. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re on the right track. You’re getting things done and blowing your own expectations out of the water!

Before I Leave 2015 Behind…

I don’t know about you but when I don’t reflect, I get ungrateful. When I don’t look back on where I started, I miss how much I’ve grown.

A couple days into the 2016 new year, someone asked me how 2015 had been for me. With a labored sigh, I replied “In all honesty, it was a tough year.” I hadn’t told a lie– 2015 was sprinkled with unexpected let-downs and challenges. Social media has a way of compiling a highlight reel of our lives that gives the false impression of a perfect life. While I was winning awards and getting speaking engagements, I was grappling with the reality of a dwindling savings account. One day, when I’m ready, I will tell you all that story. It’s one of true friendship and God’s provision. I’ll save it for another day.

Right now I want to take you back to how I started the year. I wrote down a vision for what I wanted to see in the next 365 day. I included my ambitions, my hopes, and my motivations. I believe that the way you start (with optimism and hope) frames how you’ll approach the year, with all its good and its bad.

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Vision Board for 2015

“Go. See. Do”

I had purposed in my mind that I wanted to take a solo trip after I graduated with my Masters degree. I was nervous and was constantly checking Google Flight alerts for tickets during my lunch breaks. My destination of choice? Copenhagen, Denmark. I love biking culture and I had heard it’s a safe place for a woman to travel alone. I caught huge a break with a roundtrip ticket for under $600. On my trip, I stayed at the Urban House in Denmark and hopped over to Germany to visit friends and learn about sustainable fashion at H&M Starting House. I’d recommend a solo trip to anyone who’s ever considered it.

Be Happy. Live Well.

Happiness to me consists of spending time with loved ones and being free to be myself. Living far away from my family and friends, the things I cherish the most are unexpected phone calls, care packages, and authentic acts of friendship. In order for me to “live well,” I had to shed dead weight that was not helping me develop as an individual. It can be difficult to let go of relationships and things that used to fit you. Once those things become a hinderance, it’s necessary to remove them from your life. As a recovering people-pleaser, I still struggle with the need to justify my actions but a dear friend challenged me to start living for an audience of one. As long as God is pleased with my actions, I don’t owe anyone anything. I have said many times before that I am fiercely protective of my happiness— as we all should be. Before you invite people, habits, and things into your life, examine them thoroughly. And let them in only if they will make you a better version of yourself.

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Ambition

One day, I was praying and I thought what big and specific thing could I ask of God? I declared, “I want to have 5 speaking engagements this year.” As the months rolled by, I had almost forgotten my prayer. But emails and calls started pouring in and on December 4th, I found myself on stage at an award ceremony, giving remarks about sustainable fashion. It was my fifth and final speaking engagement for the year. Sometimes, I still feel like the nerdy girl who reads articles about textile waste for fun and it’s humbling that people want to hear what I have to say. The Word says, You have not because you do not ask (James 4:2). God is not intimidated by our ambition. Ask Him for what you want and when you do, ASK BIG.

Leaders of the New Cool 

I’m not shy about telling people that I want my startup Style Lottery to be the thought-leader in recycling textiles. We’ve been working with the circular economy for a couple of years and we have been changing the way consumers get rid of their old clothes. Sustainable fashion isn’t just the new cool, it’s going to become the new standard. This year, I challenged myself to be true to my convictions. I adjusted my shopping habits and now more than half my closet is second-hand. I enjoy fashion and I recognize its ability to connect and empower communities. I am an outspoken advocate for sustainable fashion. You know what qualifies us as leaders? Our closets, our wallets, and what we chose to use them for.

Necessary Goods

I dabbled in the zero waste world for a bit and learned some great ways to lower my carbon footprint. I attended SXSW Eco, tried composting, eliminated meat from my diet, and read The Zero Waste Home from cover to cover. At the end of the day, I identified the necessities and the excesses in my life. I focused on getting basic staples and timeless pieces that will last several seasons. I have chosen to adopt a minimal waste lifestyle, where I work to minimize my environmental impact. Ever since I made the switch, I have less stuff and more substance. I’m aware that not everyone can fit all their trash into a mason jar, but if we can all reduce our waste in some way, we can make the world a better place.

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Writing this post was therapeutic for me. In retrospect, I can see that I had a fantastic year. Although I didn’t get all the answers I wanted in 2015, I know that God will complete the work He started. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It says,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

That promise from God is enough optimism and hope to launch me into 2016. I cannot wait to see how His plans unfold in my life.

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Did you make a vision board this year? Or make New Years resolutions? If so, what were your main themes for 2016? Leave a comment below :)

Swishing Things Up A Little

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This season, we’ve upgraded the Style Lottery shopping experience. The first thing most people noticed was that we changed the name of our events.

So why a swish instead of a swap? It’s because swapping is simply about exchanging clothes while swishes are about creating community. Having lived in three cities in the last three years, I know from experience that meeting new people can be somewhat intimidating. Style Lottery brings people together and creates a sense of community around fashion. Our swish events happen on 3 levels (college, city, and community). Our events are our way of making our communities feel more intimate and our impact more evident.

For this event, we teamed up with a local creative collective called goDesignDC to create a unique shopping experience for our guests. The creative geniuses behind the collective (Obi and Amanda) gave us the boutique look we were going for. Here are a few highlights from the event.

A thoughtful & sustainably designed space

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Style Lottery is serious about sustainability, so teaming up with goDesignDC was a match made in Heaven. The team build the ceiling fixtures and racks from locally sourced and recycled materials. If you want to see more of their design vision, check out their Instagram page.

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We love when our social circles overlap and our friends meet each other. Friends can turn into style soulmates in a matter of minutes. We witnessed it happen several times throughout the event. A style soulmate is someone who wears a similar size in clothing. Although you didn’t intend to, you end up picking up most of the things she brought to the swish. Once you find her, you decide you have too much in common not to be friends in real life. You exchange numbers and decide to go on a roadtrip to Philly together. That last part actually did happened at our last event. We couldn’t have made it up if we tried.

A curated boutique experience

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Our guests’ favorite part about our events is our ever-changing inventory. As the swish goes on, new items are brought out onto the floor. We had blogger and stylist, Buki Peters of Style With Buki, in the building helping guests style their swish finds. For guests at home missing out on the action, Buki also did a LIVE style session on Periscope.

The option to recycle clothes

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For this swish event, we were fortunate to partner with a local H&M store. The leftover clothing was donated to the store’s recycling program. Most people don’t know that H&M will give you a 15% off coupon for recycling with them. To reward the ladies for lowering their carbon footprints, we made sure that each woman received a 15% off coupon for her contributions.

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Thank you to everyone who made it to our first ever City Swish in DC. We’re always looking to improve your shopping experience for our guests. The feedback we received from our guests has been fantastic!  If you’ve ever been to one of our events, we’d love to hear from you. Please take 2 minutes to fill out our survey.

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   Photo cred: Obi Okolo (goDesignDC)

5 Brands With Perks To Last a Lifetime

When it comes to shopping, I am beginning to realize that a brand’s promise can be more important that the sticker price of its products. There are some brands that take their commitment to quality and customer service to a higher level. I’m talking about brands that care about a product from the minute you purchase it to the second it gets a rip in it. Read below to explore 5 brands that offer lifetime/satisfaction guarantees for their products.

#1. PATAGONIA 

Customers standing in line to fix their torn clothing in Patagonia’s repair truck.

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For all my outdoorsy friends out there, Patagonia is a brand committed to making “high-quality stuff that lasts for years and can be repaired, so you don’t have to buy more of it.” This anti-consumerist message may seem paradoxical for a for-profit apparel brand, but Patagonia knows exactly what it’s doing. They have managed to create a customer culture that values quality items and hand-me-downs. They even created a blog that celebrates the stories behind their customer’s favorite Patagonia items, may of which have been restitched and repaired rather than being discarded or replaced.

Patagonia is so true to its promise to give well-loved clothing articles a second life that it embarked on a repairing cross-country journey. Additionally, through their “Worn Wear” recycling program, if your Patagonia gear is unrepairable, you can send it to them (or bring it into the store) to be recycled and/or repurposed. Old or new, Patagonia gear holds a lot of value. Not only will this brand last longer than most. When it finally gives up the ghost Patagonia repair technicians are ready to breathe life back into it. You can find many previously owned Patagonia pieces online and the repair promise applies to them as well. This is a brand it wouldn’t hurt to buy used.

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#2. REI and #3. L.L.BEAN

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In the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon starring as Cheryl Strayed, there is a scene when Witherspoon throws her hiking boots off a cliff in frustration. She later calls the company REI and they send her new boots, free of charge. A few years ago, REI customers would have told you that was a normal occurrence. Recently, REI changed its return policy to a limited warranty that covers manufacturing defects but not regular wear and tear. However, it’s big outdoors competitor L.L. Bean has maintained its 100% satisfaction guarantee promise.

The scene in “Wild” prompted me to look for comparable policies. I discovered L.L.Bean’s robust return policy. According to the website, you simply return the item and L.L. Bean will either reimburse the original purchase price or give a L.L.Bean gift card to replace the item. There was an interesting NPR article that examined how REI and L.L. Bean’s return policies affected customer loyalty. If you search online, you can hear countless stories of customers returning items more than 10 years old and getting back a new replacement. Outdoor gear can be a hefty investment but these generous return policies give customers more bang for their buck.

#4. LEVI’S

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LEVI’s jeans are known for their quality and durability. What most customers don’t realize that some LEVI’s locations have an in-house tailor shop that will make alterations, repair rips, hem and customize your jeans for you.      Customers who often have to pay to have their pants shortened or taken in can take advantage of Levi’s free tailor services. When I spoke to one of Levi’s store tailors in Copenhagen, he said that as long as you keep your receipt you can bring in your jeans for mending. Even if you don’t have a proof of purchase, you will only pay a small fee for the tailor services. To find a tailor shop near you, check out their website for locations.

#5. JANSPORT

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Going back to school always involved shopping for the perfect backpack. Most backpacks have to be replaced year after year, but Jansport backpacks come with a lifetime warranty that few customers take advantage of. Their warranty promise states “If your pack ever breaks down, simply return it to our warranty center. We’ll fix it or if we can;t we’ll replace it or refund it.” I may not have believed the validity of this warranty, had I not sent in my ripped backpack a couple years ago. After I filled out the form and returned it to the mailing center, Jansport sent me a message saying they had received the backpack and were in the process of replacing it. They informed me that an exact replacement of my backpack was unavailable, but gave me the option of choosing from newer Jansport designs. I selected my backpack design and a new one was delivered to my front door, free of charge. The Jansport-brand warranty makes certain that its classic backpacks will .

These brands are household names for a reason. They know how to keep customers coming back and that is why they have lifelong fans. These “give back”policies create a feeling of reciprocity that enable the customer to justify a higher price tag. Customers hand over their money knowing that, along with the item they paid for, they are also ensuring the upkeep of it as well. While the brands listed above are not perfect, they are exemplars in the apparel industry. Simply selling clothes is no longer sufficient, apparel companies must create a culture around their products. Patagonia values storytelling, REI and L.LBean celebrates adventurers, LEVI’s is the symbol of rebels, and Jansport exudes reliability. Apparel brands seeking die-hard fans must ask themselves, what is the brand promise that customer’s get with each purchase? If the answer is nothing, then it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

3 Mindsets of the Eco-Conscious Shopper

Every year the fashion industry announces the newest trends, the color of the season, and the newest blue jeans cut. But something changed in recent years. The fashion seasons got shorter and the trends were turning over faster and faster. Before they knew it, consumers were finding that their new clothes were already out of style. In response to this change in fashion, consumers made some changes of their own. Here are 3 majors things to know about today’s fashion consumer.

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#1. Consumers are pushing back against trends 

At one point in their lives, consumers were content with the $5 tshirt that fell apart less than 4 months after purchase. However, when we consider the unethical labor practices that accompany cheap clothing, that $5 tshirt starts to look a little less attractive. Additionally, because most fast-fashion is not designed to last, clothes bought today could rip and fall apart the next day. This is fast-fashion’s cheap trill marketing trip. Brands entice consumers with low prices to distract them from the relatively low quality of the material. They then employ marketing schemes to convince consumers that their old clothes are not trendy and need to be replaced. Following trends feeds the endless cycle of buying and dumping clothing. Recently, the minimal fashion movement has been making a comeback on fashion blogs that focused less on trendy clothing and more on defining personal style. For example, the capsule wardrobe challenges wearers to build a cross-seasonal and versatile wardrobe that is comprised of interchangeable style staples. Minimal fashion pushes consumers to be intentional about their purchases. Every article of clothing has a purpose and impulse buying is discouraged. The result is a disciplined shopper who who know her/his style well enough to select items that complement it.

#2. Consumers have their fingers on the ethical pulse of big brands

With the low cost and accessibility afforded by fast-fashion, consumers often unknowingly purchase clothing from brands with questionable supply chains. However, saying consumer do not care about the conditions their clothing was made would be inaccurate. A recent study showed that 90% of the shoppers surveyed would boycott companies with socially irresponsible business practices. With more movements (like Fashion Revolution’s Who Made My Clothes? campaign to commemorate the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse) holding brands accountable for their their supply chains, the fashion industry is being forced to be more transparent about their business dealings. This new breed of empowered consumers have no qualms with exposing fashion’s dirty secrets, but they also raise awareness about ethical brand initiatives. Working closely with vocal eco-fashion advocates and bloggers allows brands to tap into the market of eco-inclined consumers. Brands should be careful not to throw out gimmicky greenwashing efforts that attempt to clean up its image. This specific type of consumer is known to examine brands with a fine tooth comb before giving their monetary support.

#3. Brands, Consumers, and Producers must come together to bear the cost of producing ethical & sustainable clothing

While consumers have been vocal in their urgings for more sustainable fashion practices, they haven’t necessarily connected those convictions to their wallets. Ethical fashion labels are mystified by this. A GQ article accurately explained this phenomenon: “[consumers are] not usually willing to pay a premium just because something is more socially and environmentally conscious.” Currently, the fashion industry has a limited supply of truly ethical and sustainable brands and the demand from consumers has not yet reached the point where the price is attractive for the average consumer. The good news is that the demand for sustainable fashion is growing. Perhaps, one day it will be an industry norm and more apparel retailers will switch over to eco-friendly practices. Until then, brands and their producers should be expect to bear the brunt of an “eco-tax,” rather than charging the consumer exponentially more for greener products. The eco-tax, for the sake of this article, is the cost (money, time, and effort) of implementing the more costly eco-friendly practices in lieu of cheaper, more wasteful options. Nin Castle, cofounder and creative director of sustainable fashion brand Goodone, encourages sustainable brands to create products that will entice people to buy based on its design. Over time, I believe brands will see that consumers will be willing to meet them half-way in exchange for eco-friendly products that are more affordable and of higher quality.

Green Up Your Period With Menstrual Cup

Eco-Blog Posts

Warning: Before I fully launch into this post, I should let you know that I’ll be talking about periods…as in a woman’s menstruation. The skirmish readers out there can go check out some safer posts here.

The most challenging area of waste for me has always been my period. My cycle typically would last 5 days and I would wear tampons with a safety pad underneath, in case of leaks. I have a pretty light cycle so I like solutions where I only have to do minimal work. When I started hearing horror stories (like a woman who got toxic shock syndrome from a tampon and had to have her leg amputated as a result) I decided tampons weren’t worth the risk. Also, the thought of having my used tampons in a landfill somewhere was a bit nausea-inducing to me. I started looking for alternatives that reduce my carbon footprint and not put me at risk.

There are studies that say “in her 20s alone, a woman will spend over $26,000 on vaginal maintenance (pads/tampons, exams, birth control, etc.” This was a price I had accepted as a result for Adam snitching on Eve for eating the apple being a woman. Someone did the calculation that I would have been happier not knowing of how much having period costs women.

With this high cost in mind, I went out in search for some options. One day a friend of mine (Julia) was telling me about this pad alternative that she’d been using for years. She said it was a little cup that collected the period blood and all she had to do was fish it out and dump it. Naturally, my mind went to a confused and creeped out place. But I was curious. So I did some research on menstrual cups and watched a few explanation videos on YouTube. The videos did a great job of informing me and calming down my fears about using the cups. So about a year ago, I bought the Diva Cup online and decided to give it a try.

A little background info: At the time I was thinking of first trying the cup, I had just had my first pap smear (late, I know, don’t judge me) and I was feeling tough. I thought I could handle anything so I opened up the packaging and read the instructions. Then I looked at the size of the cup and then back at the instructions. I proceeded to have a mini panic attack and text my friend inappropriate questions that were probably beyond our current level of friendship. With the help of her calm voice over the phone and some Youtube videos, I worked up the courage to do it.

Now, a year later I am loving the menstrual cup and the freedom it brings me. I highly recommend you give it a try if you’re tired of your period taking over your life. One of the updates I made to my monthly regimen is that instead of using a pantyliner under my Diva Cup. I’ recently tried a cloth pad from Paditude while I was wearing my Diva Cup. I must disclose that I met the owner, Amy Huffman at DC Green Festival and she gave me a light Paditude liner to try. I’d been hearing a lot about them and I had been very skeptical about trying it. Cloth pads are definitely an experience, but Paditude’s craftmanship is beautiful. It has a colorful design, is hand-sewn for sturdiness, and has an absorbent core made from organic bamboo fleece. I tried out the liner on the last day of my cycle and I didn’t leak onto my clothes. It didn’t move around (it’s secured by snaps) and was actually quite comfortable to sit on. Overall, it wasn’t too bad! Although plenty of people swear by cloth pads, I still prefer the flexibility of the menstrual cup. One of the downfalls is the price of a Paditude set. The way my wallet is set up, I’m not quite there yet. So I made a compromise and started using the Paditude liner instead of the disposable pantiliners. Yay for less menstrual waste in landfills!

Being waste free is not about being a hippie or doing extreme things. It’s about finding eco-friendly options that you’re comfortable with. I use menstrual cups because they make me periods more tolerable. I’m writing this post to give you all options. Take what fits your needs and leave what doesn’t work for you :).

To hear about my full experience with the cup, watch below to see my Periscope recap where I talk about menstrual cups:

Don’t take my word for it. See what these other ladies had to say:

1. Zero Waste Menstrual Products- by Fort Negrita (blog post and video)

2. Lunetta Cup Review- by Hallease (video)

3. Menstrual Cup 101- by The Eco Chic (blog post)

4. 18 Reasons You Should Switch to a Menstrual Cup by Buzzfeed (blog post)

5. About Menstrual cups- by Outside It’s Electric

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Any questions? Leave them in the comments below!