14 Years

Dear Friends,

This month marks the 14th anniversary of the beginning of my life as an entrepreneur and business owner and four years since  The Well Dressed Life became my full time job.

I was 26 when I walked out of my corporate job and I started my first business, Kristel Closets. It was, hands down, the best decision I ever made.

Of course, at the time, everyone thought I was insane, rightfully so, since I had no idea what I was doing and was pregnant with our oldest. But sometimes you have to follow your gut, and trust your instincts. 

Now, I’m 40, with three kids, and feel confident in my work and convictions. But it’s been a crazy, exhausting, overwhelming, and ultimately wonderful experience to get here. 

So many of you have followed along since the beginning. I hear from countless readers who met me when I started the business while expecting my first baby – who is now 13! And nothing makes me happier than getting a note from a past client – it’s like hearing from an old friend.

I’m so grateful you’ve been with me since the early years – and stuck around as I figured out how to do this. 

More recently, you may have discovered this site on Instagram or Pinterest and don’t have much context about what it’s all about.

Since we also have so many new readers, I thought I would say, “Hi!” (re)introduce myself and answer some of the most popular questions I regularly receive.

Cheers to 14 Years!

HI! This is me. 

The first thing you need to know is that I hate, HATE putting my picture on the internet for all to see. It feels ridiculous and embarrassing.

I know it’s helpful to see the pieces I recommend on a real body. So thank you for being kind and supportive as I stepped WAY outside my comfort zone this past year. 

First, Things First … 

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my husband, Brian, and our three girls Maddie (13), Ava (10), and Vivian (almost 2). Bri and I met in college, and we’ve been together for 21 years, married for 17. It sounds cliche, but they are my everything. 

Life is full, busy, and blessed with two careers and a calendar packed with sports and activities. I’m currently trying to “balance” having a teenager who is slowly gaining more and more independence and a toddler who demands my attention all day long. Needless to say, I hit the pillow really hard at night. 

I’ve always loved fashion and style. In and right after college, I worked as a retail buyer, starting at a private, high-end store, and ending up at QVC, where I bought items and created programming for the home-shopping network. 

I left to start my first business, Kristel Closets (a personal styling and shopping company), when I was expecting Maddie. I intended to create a career that would allow me to be the kind of mother I wanted to be and have a fulfilling professional life.

After ten years of working with clients up and down the east coast and extensively traveling the country working with our corporate clients, I decided to turn all of my attention to this site. I was burning out, traveling so much I barely saw my kids and felt like I was moving away from my original goal of having a career and personal life I found equally satisfying. 

It’s been a tremendous amount of work, with a long list of failures along the way. Even though it hasn’t always been easy, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the opportunities and life I have. I feel really fortunate that I have a career I’m passionate about and one that has brought so much goodness into my life. 

Being a working mom is a big part of who I am, which means our content comes from that perspective. That said, our readers are remarkably diverse and range from stay at home moms to recently retired women and grandmothers; I’m always thrilled to hear that our content resonates with women in all seasons of life.

What I want you to know …

I absolutely love the community that has been built around this site. I pour my heart and soul into my work every day and think deeply about how we can create content that helps, inspires, or gives you a little break amid your busy day. 

Posts can take anywhere from 4 – 6 hours to produce, and we post content five days a week. 

I promise not to fill your inbox with junk and I never create a post as a money grab. On the rare occasion that I miss a day publishing, it’s because I couldn’t get a post together that I found valuable or relevant. 

There’s so much that goes into a site like this that you don’t see. Even I’m surprised by it. 

I so appreciate it when you comment and share our work. It’s the lifeline of our business.

And here are the questions I regularly receive … 

How did you get started? 

I studied business at Temple University Fox School of Business and worked in high-end retail while still in school. After graduating, I spent many years as a women’s clothing buyer for a small boutique and a major retailer. Before starting my business, I was a buyer for QVC, procuring products and developing programs in their Home Decor, Candle, and Christmas department.

In 2006 I started my first company, Kristel Closets, Inc. (KCI), a full-service personal shopping and styling firm. I wanted to take my experience and love of style and help women navigate the often overwhelming retail world.

I ran that company for ten years. At our peak, I had an incredible team of personal stylists who worked with our clients in Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and all their surrounding areas.

This blog was initially designed to be a marketing tool attached to our business website, as a way to connect with potential clients. But quickly, I realized I could expand our audience and work with women all over the country and now the world. 

After a decade, I officially closed KCI to focus all of my energy on building The Well Dressed Life

Do you have a team? (and) Are you hiring?

Lauren, my dearest friend, creates all of our graphics and designs and helps maintain the backend of our site. Which means when I break the backend, she fixes it.  

I work with a fantastic local photographer, Ashley Griffin. She’s made all the difference in the look of the site, and my marriage since trying to force my husband to take suitable pictures of me was a losing battle. 

At the end of 2019, I was planning on building out a team because other than Lauren and Ashely, I am running this operation solo. Of course, 2020 is a dumpster fire, so hopefully, I’ll feel more confident bringing in more help early next year. 

Typos and Spelling Errors

The grammar police are not my biggest fans.

If you see an error, it’s not because I’m an idiot; it’s a typo my tired eyes missed. All posts are run through the premium version of Grammarly multiple times before going live, but sometimes there are errors. Everything gets fixed eventually. So, give a girl some grace; I’m doing my best.

Are your posts sponsored? 

No, they are not. 

When I worked with personal clients, I refused a commission from retailers and never sold a brand of clothes, make-up, or jewelry because I wanted to be independent. 

Today, I take that same philosophy.

While most bloggers’ revenue comes from sponsored posts, I’m not comfortable with it. Over the years, people have said I was crazy for leaving that kind of money on the table, but the longer I stay away from it, the happier I am with the decision. It’s a slippery slope.

It took me years to build a loyal following; I’m not going to chip away at that by filling your news feed and emails with ads disguised as content. 

You need to know when I make a recommendation, it’s a sincere one.  

How do you make money?

Our blog revenue comes from on site ads, affiliate links, and our Insider program. 

Affiliate links mean that when you click one of our product links and make a purchase, we make a very small (very, very small) commission. I’m a part of Shopstyle Collective and rewardStyle networks which helps me connect with retailers. 

I am also part of the Mediavine Ad Network. Mediavine works as a liaison and sells space on my site to advertisers. These ads do not influence the content in any way. 

Finally, over the summer, I launched our WDL Insider as a way to work with readers more personally at scale. It was a great success, so I’m launching our Fall Insider this Friday. 

How do you balance work and kids? Do you have childcare?

Typically, Bri and I feel like we are hanging on by a thread all day, every day. 

Thankfully, the big girls are back in school after being home for almost seven months. Like everyone who lived through various lockdown levels and managing schooling at home, we were an absolute mess.

We do have a wonderful babysitter for Vivi, who comes over three days a week from 9 – 3. So I have a chance to work while all the kids are occupied during the school day.

My parents are also a huge help and take care of Viv the other two days.

Weekends are insane because our big girls play sports, including travel softball, so it’s hours and hours of practice and games.

During the week, I usually work between 9 am – 3 pm, then get back online from 7 pm – 11 pm, and try to squeeze in some hours over the weekend, but lately, that hasn’t been possible.

Honestly, given how bad this year is, we’re blessed to have good health and thriving kids. 

Any advice for starting a business?

I have two very simple pieces of advice. First, you won’t love every aspect of running a business so you have to love your mission and keep that top of mind. 

Second, I really believe a good part of my success is thanks to my pure stubbornness. So just don’t stop moving forward, even and especially when you fail epically. I’m not the smartest, or most skilled, but I will out work everyone. 

How tall are you? 

I’m 5’10 in bare feet. 

What size do you wear? 

I’m a solid medium or size 8. 

How would you describe your style?

Casual, modern, classic, and feminine. Our style posts are heavily influenced by what I like, but I also appreciate all kinds of styles. 

Do you follow a budget when you shop?

Not in the sense that I sit down and figure out a number I can spend each season or year. But that doesn’t mean I have an unlimited budget. I know what I can afford and try my best to be prudent with my purchases; remember, I still have three kids to put through school.

Do you buy what you say you do?

Absolutely. If I say I bought it, I bought it, but I don’t purchase everything we feature. Often, our outfit posts are inspired by either questions you post or my experience dressing clients. 

Is that really your skincare routine? (and) Why do you spend so much on skincare products? 

Yes, that’s what I use every night. As I said in the post, my skin was a problem for a long time and crushed my confidence, so I will spend time and money to keep it clear and healthy. One of the reasons I didn’t initially post pictures of myself on this site was because I was dealing with terrible skin.

That said, I don’t spend in lots of areas, so it all works out in my book. Many of the products I featured are expensive, but they last a long time. The main point of that post was to talk about applying your products to get the best results. 

Can you please feature petite and plus sizes?

I think people skim through the posts and assume we are only featuring “regular” or “missy” sizes. We include petite and plus sizes in almost every single outfit post if there is an option. We also prioritize retailers that are size inclusive and call out their size offerings in the text. 

By the time I read your post, items are sold out. Can you check inventory before posting? 

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the retailers’ inventory levels. I do make every effort to make sure sizing isn’t limited or already sold out before posting. When something does sell out before a post goes live, we quickly change out the item. 

Why don’t you feature more discount retailers? 

I’m not a great sale shopper. I don’t make good decisions in discount stores, and what I buy almost always turns into closet clutter. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a good deal, but I don’t go looking for them.

Additionally, inventory levels at discounters are notoriously low. There is usually no inclusive size scale, limiting me in terms of giving plus and petite options.

My focus is to help you build a wardrobe, share inspiration, and, most important, I want you to understand why certain pieces go together so you can dress confidently.

Of course, when something great goes on sale, I’m the first to share it. 

Can you feature UK based retailers?

I’m shocked at how international our reach has become, especially since I don’t think my next-door neighbor knows what I do for a living. I wish I knew more UK based retailers but being US based I don’t have much exposure to them. As we grow, I’m trying to figure out how to make recommendations to readers outside the US, so please stay tuned. 

14 Years

51 thoughts on “14 Years”

  1. Two UK retailers I love are Boden and Pure Collection or Pure Cashmere. I order all (about 99%) of my clothes online so fit and consistency of fit is critical to me. I love them both because when they say their product is an 8, 10, or 12, they mean it. Note that sometimes their sizing is in UK terms, but if you know the conversion, and they help you out with that, it’s not a barrier to entry.

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  2. I found your blog on Pinterest, and I love it! Thank you. I am at a similar age and stage of life. Your post on anxiety and self care resonated. If possible, some Canadian options would be a bonus. If not, I still appreciate the inspiration! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Rachel! I’m glad the content outside of style resonates too, managing our stress levels in our season of life is critical to our overall health. And yes to Canadian options, I’m working on it, I had no idea how many readers are outside the US until I dove into our analytics.

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  3. I have been reading your blog for years! You and Capital Hill (which you recommended) are the only two I follow. I love your style, genuineness, and advice. I met you years ago at when you opened your brick and mortar in Ardmore. Have been a fan ever since. I recently purchased a clothing boutique in Wayne, PA – Ellie Main Line in Eagle Village (formerly Spread Eagle). Had been in business for 20 years. I completley remodeled, brought in fresh lines and gave the place a whole new vibe. I have been wanting to reach out to you about it, but know how incredibly full your life has been in the past year. So here goes…. I am having a blogger party this Saturday 3/23 from 11-1. Since you are writing about your blog, I thought this would be the perfect time to reach out. Would love for you to stop in. With 3 kids, a hubby and a home, I know it will be next to impossible, but still wanted to extend the invite. Would still love to meet sometime. Thoroughly enjoy your blog and always get a little ping of “yay” when I see your email hit!!

    Reply
    • Hi Diane! Thank you so much for the invite – You’re right, things have been crazy, since I’m only just getting to comments now. We were getting ready for our daughters christening on the 24th so I wouldn’t have been able to make it, but I’d love to pop in and say hi this season!

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    • Luxembourg! That’s amazing, I’m serious, my next door neighbors have no clue what I do for a living. Thank you for following along!

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  4. I am SO happy for your success Meg! You deserve it. I can’t believe it’s been twelve years since you came to my house. I still follow the recommendations you gave back then, and look forward to your blog every day.

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  5. Any suggestions on what to wear to a Law School graduation? I’m not a dressy person but I may have to dress up?? I don’t usually wear high shoes because I am also tall. Love to hear any ideas. Thank you.
    DJ

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    • Hi DJ, It all depends on the venue but a simple dress with a cardigan or light jacket is appropriate anywhere. If you hem the dress to your best length then you can skip the heels and wear a dressier flat or flat sandal.

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  6. Re UK shoppers:
    The best places are NEXT, Boden, PRIMARK, Debenham’s, Fenwick;
    all worth investigating for a good selection across all price points.
    HighStreet to high end.

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  7. I’m grateful for your blog/emails and the inspiration they give me. I always get excited when I see one pop in my inbox! I appreciate the time and effort that you put into this. It makes me happy to see that you are 5’10”. I would love to know if you purchase items that are tall sized. I am 5’9″ and find that I can (usually) find some jeans or black dress pants that I can wear but I have a lot of trouble finding dresses or shirts that fit my torso (instead of hitting me above the waist) and long sleeves that fit – especially in jackets. I want to stop buying crap clothes and invest in some solid well crafted clothes but they will likely need to be altered and I have NO idea if it is worth it to do so. So, that’s my idea for you…What To Buy or Avoid – That A Seamstress Can or Can’t Improve Your Fit. (I know you can improve the title. lol)

    Reply
    • Hi Janell! Thanks so much for the comment. Yes, I am 5’10, exactly. When I was younger and tall sizes just started to become popular, I would buy them, but over the years I’ve noticed that they don’t fit me as well everywhere else as regular pants so I just have the hem taken down on regular bottoms when necessary.

      Length will be different on everyone because of proportions, so while I’m tall and have longer legs, they are pretty equal to the rest of my frame. Meaning I can get away with standard length pants, sometimes with the hem let down an inch or two. Tall sizes tend to assume that your rise is also long and mine is not.

      Jackets and blazers are the most challenging. With traditional ones I can usually have the sleeves lengthened but if something has detail, like a zipper on the sleeve and the sleeve is too short I have to skip it.

      Because it sounds like your torso is longer than mine, looking for tall tops and dresses would be best for you. They don’t usually offer them in stores but online you have some good options. I like J.Crew because they don’t feel oversized, and Ann Taylor has a great line of dresses and work pieces with longer torsos in mind.

      We did a post a while a go about alterations that goes into what you can, should, can’t and shouldn’t do. Might be time I update it and repost!

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      • Hi Megan and Janel
        I am 6ft without shoes and very long in the legs. I live in a country town in Queensland, Australia (yes Megan you’ve reached Australian shores!) where the shopping is very limited! I have tried a few online websites but have had to return everything as they are generally too short (not enough length in the hem!) in the arms and legs or do not fit right in the waist.
        So I’ve come to dislike shopping as it’s very frustrating but can I say you have opened my eyes in how to shop more wisely and the wardrobe challenge recently was fantastic.
        Thank you for what you are doing Megan on this site. It is very informative, practical, helpful and I’m loving learning about my style and how to put things together. Many thank you’s again.

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  8. I think your age bracket (and older – I’m 51!) is under represented so you’re filling a great need. Thanks for the good work!

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    • Thanks Melanie – me too. That was one of my big lessons when I worked with clients was how underserved women 35 and over are in fashion and retail when their lives aren’t devoted to their personal style, which is most of us! I’m so glad the content is starting to resonate to a wider audience. 🙂

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  9. Thank you for your open and direct way of communicating. I am new to your site, so as yet no purchases made. I am a70 year old woman and size 14 living in Australia. Thank you again.
    Denise Rungen

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  10. I’ve been following you for about a year. Thanks to you, I have two lovely Boden sweaters, a few T-shirts from Madewell, and other great tops. Even my husband was impressed by your skincare guideline. Love Stitch Fix!

    Looking forward to your future posts. I’m not surprised in the least by your growing audience.

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    • Thank you so much! I’m always so happy to hear that what we are sharing is working in our readers real lives!!

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  11. Hi Megan! I’ve been following your blog for several years. I’m 51 and look forward to your posts every week! I’ve purchased some of your recommendations throughout the years – including the blouse that (I think) you are wearing in your photo here in your kitchen 😉 Banana Republic?! (I got it in Navy and White…) I have a long commute and rarely have time to shop and don’t want to spend my weekends in stores, so I use your recommendations for ideas and online ordering. I also started listening to a few of the podcasts – during my long commute – that you recommended. Congrats on your success and I look forward to ALL of your future posts!

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    • Thanks so much Tracy! I’m always happy to see your name in the comments – thanks for supporting us over the years – it’s so very appreciated!!

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  12. Congratulations, Megan. I’m so thrilled for your evolution while still being completely true to yourself. I fondly remember trusting your truly expert and caring advice when you first began and now that I’m retired and living in Florida, I still value your advice. (I also still use the wonderful scarves and accessories I collected from my world travels.) Thanks for all your help then and now.

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    • Awww, thank you so much Berly! You were one of my very first clients and always one of my very favorites. Glad life is treating you well in Florida. Hope you’re getting some good time in with your daughters and granddaughters!

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  13. Hi Megan!

    This was a great post! Even though I’ve been following you for a number of years now, I learned a few new things. :-). But I have a question…

    I’ve been searching online (Amazon, Container Store) for some moth-proof boxes or bags for my cashmere & wool sweaters. It suddenly occurred to me that you’d be the perfect person to ask…can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. It’s heartbreaking to have to toss out otherwise beautiful sweaters full of moth holes- I really need to get serious about preventing this from happening. How do you handle this issue?

    Thanks!
    Suzanne

    Reply
    • So nice to hear from you Suzanne! Interestingly, I learned from a Martha Stewart article years ago that the best way to store sweaters and other knits for spring/summer storage is in plastic, because plastic is the best way to keep critters and moisture out. So I just pick up a few inexpensive clear plastic boxes, have my knits cleaned, remove the dry cleaning plastic (because that will hold moisture) and include a few cedar blocks in the bottom, middle and top. I also put a piece of tissue between each sweater so the colors done bleed. This is a great topic I’m going to add to next weeks Ten List with some additional resources.

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  14. I can validate what you see is what you get in Megan. She walks the walk in what she recommends and wears. She has totally transformed the way I dress. I now am thoughtful about price per wear vs. going for the lowest price. Making sure clothes are well fit and tailored are what makes you feel and look expensive (though it doesn’t have to be expensive to do it). Have a work uniform and casual uniform to make it easier to know what to buy. And years before Mari Kondo, she had/has me taking everything out of my closet a few times a year to see what needs to be donated, repaired or organized. Most importantly, it isn’t about clothes, it is about what we live our lives in and how we feel each and every day.

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  15. Megan, will you consider posting a series of “how to dress” for sizes? For example, one week for shorties (I am five feet tall), one week for tall gals (my bestie is 5’11), one week for full figured beauties and one for slim or petite ladies. One of my biggest challenges is knowing what flatters my short frame, and I’m betting a lot of your readers suffer from this same ailment. Thank you, and love your site!

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, thanks for the idea. We do feature options for all sizes and heights, when available in all of our posts so if you specifically need a petite size, please follow the links because most of the retailers we use are size inclusive. I also try very hard to give tips in the text on how to adjust proportions to work with specific body types. That said, maybe we can try to pull together a comprehensive guide that we can have readers refer back to – that will just take some time 🙂

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  16. I am a 56 y/o woman who wants style and color I n my wardrobe as I age. I am striving to age with grace, and I am conscious of a body that although I exercise 5 days a week and have a very fast paced job it still has ideas of its own. I think a lot of the style tips you offer are still very valid for us “senior” women and would like to hear your thoughts on styling for women welcoming age with grace. Keep up the good work I enjoy your articles.

    Reply
  17. I just discovered your blog a bit over a month ago. Love the content. I recently went from a job that required business apparel to one that was casual, not as ‘formal’ as business casual, but not ripped jeans and hoodies, either. Making the transition has been hard, but your posts are helping. I have since signed up for the newsletter, joined in on the current challenge, and joined the private Facebook group. Really looking forward to how things develope. Much continued success to you and your business.

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  18. Thanks so much. I was even wondering about pants with a dressy top. But I may just wear a dress since you suggested it. Appreciate!

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  19. Congrats on 14 years! I remember first meeting you when you spoke for me at a Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce event. It’s been so fun to follow you – I love how you have grown and evolved to keep your business relevant in an ever changing world!

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  20. Hi Megan-
    Congratulations on 14 years in your business. You are an inspiration! I count myself as one of the lucky clients that got to meet you during the in-person styling phase of your business. Since then, I’ve been a devoted reader of your blog, and have made several purchases from your suggestions over the years. These items have had the longest staying power in my wardrobe. As a tall gal, 5′-9″ with long arms, I appreciate when you model certain items, even though I know this is not your preference. I can buy these with confidence, knowing that they are “Megan approved” for my frame!

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  21. Congratulations on 14 years ! I always find your posts very helpful. I sincerely appreciate all the hard work you do for us. I am 68 senior blonde ( natural silver) and I am always able to find the perfect look on your site or adapt what I have in my colors.

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  22. Congratulations on 14 years! I am relatively new to your blog but I love your honesty and great fashion advise. Look forward to see what the future brings!!!!

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  23. Love your blog, and have purchased several of your recommendations and have enjoyed them all! Thanks for working to be petite inclusive. 🙂 Chiming in on the UK retailers – I really love Hobbs. Their prices make them more suitable for investment pieces, but they have great petites that are true to their sizing charts. I have purchased a collarless tweed jacket (think Chanel) and a trench coat from them and they are amazing cut and quality.

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  24. Congratulations on 14 years! I am from the Philippines and I’m 65.
    I enjoy reading your blog though some are not applicable here since we only have the dry & wet seasons. But your summer look is. Hoping to travel again to the US (when this pandemic is over) and wear WDL-inspired outfits😊
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  25. Hello and congratulations,
    Yes we are in an international era. I read you from Romania, I try to implement your advices, I buy online and from stores. I like a lot your style and your blog content. Congrats again

    Reply

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