My Spondulics TV Interview - Allergic to Savings: A Deeper Look with Jaime Festa
I was honored to be interviewed by Bill Mills, President and CEO of FPP Coalition this past October, 2021. The mission of FPP Coalition is to elevate financial capability for all. I was lucky enough to be a part of their special Allergic to Savings: How Food Allergies Impact Financial Capability, which aired on their streaming platform, Spondulics TV, late last year.
Bill and I had a wonderful and thought-provoking conversation about food allergies, and how they affect my family, other families, finances, and business. Transcribed below is our entire interview - chock full of truthful insights, anecdotes, business perspective, and real life. I would love for you to take a read through the interview, or click the link below to watch!
To watch Bill and my interview in it's entirety, click here: Jaime's interview
To watch FPP's special, including all of the amazing interviewees, click here: Spondulics TV and scroll down to the Allergic To Savings: A Deeper Look section
Below you can find the transcription of our interview:
Hi, I’m Jaime Festa - I’m the owner of Trio Fudge.
Describe your organization and role:
We are a very small, local business run out of New Jersey. We specialize in gourmet fudge; we have about 40 flavors now! Very unique flavors - 100% peanut, tree nut and sesame free. The “Trio” (because I always get that question!) - The Trio started out as myself, my husband and my brother. That has morphed over the past couple years to me, myself and I. At the moment it’s pretty much a one-woman show! My brother is now a silent partner, he went in a different direction, and my husband - he helps sort of minimally.
So I wear all the hats! I am the owner, the baker, the events staff, the shipping department, the marketing intern - all that good stuff, at the moment. We have 40 flavors of fudge, samplers, gift items, fudge of the month club, and we try to do some fun holiday stuff.
Was your business started with those with food allergies in mind?
We did not, no. We started the business when I was pregnant with our second child, my daughter. I was about 7 months pregnant and we decided to open a business! So, no, we were very young in our own lives dealing with food allergies. Our oldest was only like a year and a half, so we hadn’t been dealing with food allergies for too long, so we started the business without diving into that. Not being as well versed at the time in deciphering ingredients, facilities, and that type of thing. So we decided May of 2019 to change directions and become an allergy-friendly brand.
Did being a mother of a child with food allergies influence you to make a food allergy friendly brand?
Oh yea, it’s my sole reason. I don’t think my brain ever would have gone there if I didn’t live it myself.
How does your organization currently work to impact specifically those with food allergies?
You know our product specifically, is pretty impossible to find nut free. We’re not free of every allergen. We don’t say certainly "allergen free" or "classroom safe" or anything like that. We are allergy friendly in that we cater to peanut, tree nut and sesame allergies. We do have dairy, we do have egg. Unfortunately I get a lot of questions - does it have egg in it, is it dairy free? And right now, we can’t cater to every single top allergen, so we’re focused on those three for right now. And it’s a treat that nut allergic people just can not have and can not find.
There’s a couple of select companies that have a few flavors of [nut free] fudge, maybe around the holidays, but nowhere near the breadth of the assortment that we have, where you can just look at our entire menu - if you are allergic to nuts - and you can pick anything on here with complete confidence that there’s no risk of cross contact and there’s certainly no nuts in the fudge itself.
There’s no sharing of knives, it’s not in the facility, anything like that. So you know, in person, I get to see them walk up to me and I have this big sign, and they’re just in disbelief. I have parents and siblings and they’re just like - I’m gonna buy it all for them because we’ve never seen this! Thank you for existing. My kids are young, they’re 5 and 3, so we talk a lot with schools and teachers, and my #1 of course is always safety. And that’s kind of the more common way of talking about it.
But #2, and it’s a very close second for me, is inclusion. So we’re offering a dessert that, again, can not cater to every single allergen I do understand that, but for those with nut allergies - which this particular product usually has in there - we’re offering something that you can have on your table and it’s totally safe for that nut allergic person in the room - who probably never gets to eat dessert and certainly not fudge! So that’s a huge part for me, is just offering something that’s typically just impossible to find.
And on top of that, we did not raise our prices when we switched to allergy friendly and that was a really conscious decision on my part. Our ingredients are more expensive than previously. We tossed all our old equipment - I got brand new equipment - because I was previously, at the inception of this company, making nut flavors. All of that equipment went out, and got brand new equipment, untouched. So there was a cost there. And then our ingredients are slightly more expensive now and I can’t just so easily substitute ingredients. I have to make sure they fall within certain guidelines for us. But we didn’t raise our prices as well. So we’re offering sort of a very market value pound of fudge, it’s really in line with market value of fudge instead of this sort of allergy friendly treat that’s at a premium.
How has marketing to individuals with food allergies decisively influenced your business overall?
The biggest reward for me is that interaction. We are what I will call a pretty mainstream product. It’s the same sort of basic recipe but you have that confidence of no nuts and no cross contact, right? So we market to the masses in that it's regular fudge. You love fudge? You can eat our fudge and enjoy it, we have a wide variety of flavors.
But now when you get those people, that niche group of people, who are just SO excited to find nut free fudge - and then they see sesame on the sign and they’re just like OH my god you even have sesame on there - and then I tell my story, they tell their story.
And, you know I don't get as much of that interaction online but once in a while I do get the notes and the comments in the orders - thank you for existing, thank you for being nut free. And then in person, even more so. I have like a 7 foot sign that at in person events, festivals, farmers markets, things like that, the huge nut free symbol at the top way above my logo, it's just the biggest thing on there - is a huge nut free sign. So they can come from across the room and they're just like I'm buying that! I don’t even know what it is yet but I gotta check this out! And they are just SO excited when they come talk to me.
And a lot of times they assume, I think, that I’m not the owner, or that I didn't create this whole thing, don't have kids maybe yet and they start to say, oh you don't even understand you don't understand this is so amazing, and I’m like, no I do understand, I know what this feeling is to walk by something that is safe for my children to eat.
And even adults - adults are interesting too because most adults never had all these options when they were younger. So now in their adulthood a lot of them will be like, yea I’m 20 years old and I never ate this. And then for the little ones it's just so exciting. So marketing to that group of people who are just so appreciative is just so rewarding for me and just gives me so much purpose. I started this business without this purpose in mind at all and for it to come full circle and be about this now is unbelievably fulfilling for me.
What are some daily obstacles you face living with a child with food allergies?
There are - we live it every day in my house - so there are quite a lot of hurdles to get through but I think the biggest ones are the unknowns - the things you really can’t control - which is a lot. So I think the most obvious is: is this food safe? Just determining that - whether you bought it, bought ingredients and you're cooking with it, whether you're just buying it out somewhere prepackaged - "is this food safe" is a very simple question with not a simple answer. And I would say most times you can’t even get the answer so your list of safe foods is very, very short because you can’t even determine, a lot of times, if it's safe for consumption - which is a crazy thought. But it’s definitely something we live every single day.
Can I find safe food? So nevermind does it exist and can I determine if it's safe, can I find it in the first place? Which pandemic-wise was a whole other game to play. In the very beginning of it me and my mom, we took on this job, literally - we were doing only curbside pickups - we would both sit on our computers and try to find food that my children could eat for the next, say 3 weeks. It was this almost impossible task. And things around that too.. is the shopper going to read my substitution note? I can't read the label, I can't get my eyes on the label until I've already paid for it and it’s put in my car. Just instances of safe food not necessarily being available. Nobody plans for a global pandemic, but in that instance we had far less options available just due to the safety factor.
The people around me - speaking for my children or anyone who manages food allergy - are the people around me safe / going to be safe? Do they know about my food allergies? How much do I put out there? Who do I talk to? And for a kid that responsibility is going to fall on someone else, and just setting up those parameters for is this situation safe for me? Can I participate in social events safely? Can I participate at all? Just due to the activities going on and those situations. So just all this around safety and the unknowns and the uncontrollables. And then on top of that, there's this obstacle, not an obstacle but just remembering to carry your life saving medications around. Where do I put this life saving medication? You can’t leave it in the car, can't leave it in the cold, physically where do I put it? You have to remember it. Just all these things that you're never off. It’s every day, all day, no matter where you go.
Has the supply chain issues led to any effects on your ability to access food allergy friendly foods?
I think it’s affected everything! Our weekly grocery bill is higher than it used to be, pandemic-wise. So yes, I think that is kind of across the board. I mean for fudge my ingredients have certainly gone up due to supply chain issues. But for my family I need to think ahead so much. If we need x,y, or z ingredient or I need a treat for the next week or two weeks out, I’m already starting to look for it because I can’t just run to the store and grab it, or get a substitute necessarily. I might have to go to three stores to get it, because they might be out of it right now. And I’m going to do what I can to go find it. But that's time and that's all other issues. So yea I would say absolutely it has affected us.
In your experience, does facing financial instability exacerbate the obstacles individuals face having a child with food allergies?
So the Number 1 is actually time. Time is money, right?
And all this time I spend searching for safe food, physically, researching that food, is time away from what? From my business, I’m not working. So if I added up all the hours - and it's so disjointed I would never bother to do that - but I spend a lot of time whether it's researching on Facebook groups to see what other people have already done, save myself some time, see what other people have already kind of gathered up.
I drove almost 2 hours recently to go get A La Mode [ice cream] for my kids. Because it's not at my Shop Rite, it’s at a Shop Rite 50 minutes away. So I drove all the way there to get some A La Mode pints. And the option is do that, or order a lot online. And that’s a lot of these brands you have to order in bulk, and pay shipping, so there's a good amount of money that you’re laying out in order to just obtain this safe food so they can A) eat safely, and B) maybe be included, right?
Maybe I needed that ice cream for a gathering. And the travel - that I don’t even process, really, but I’m driving far sometimes just to go pick up a safe treat, so that gas, the tolls, the things you don’t really compute and so directly add in, but it totally affects our income, our bottom line for our family. You have to lay out all this time, and essentially money, to go get this safe food. It’s just not super readily available in our area. Other areas maybe they have more options, we have some, we don't have all, so I do what I can to go get it. But it definitely comes at a cost. And the allergy-friendly, well known, allergy-friendly brands - I love them, I support them, I buy them - but seeing that side of it, the ingredients costs.
I totally understand why you're paying a premium, and you're paying for the peace of mind, but not everyone can afford to do that and buy those items. And then what is your option? Do you not buy? Do you just take a risk and buy something that you don’t know is safe? Do you not buy but then they’re not included and they don’t have that item? That's not okay.
And then the life saving medication, that's a whole other topic on being affordable and all that craziness, but they were outrageously priced for life saving medication.
Do you find a connection between food allergies and food insecurity?
Yes, so I think a lot of it does tie back to that previous question talking about how it affects your family income and your bottom line. We are big budgeters in my family. My husband and myself, we’re big budgeters, we budget everything, we have funds for this, that and the other thing, just to keep our finances straight and see where we are every month. We sit down and we look at it every single month.
We have an allergy fund. We have an allergy fund! And it’s mostly to fund a treatment that our kids are both in and the travel for that treatment, because the travel is extensive for that treatment. But it absolutely eats into our annual income. And then the instability portion of it - we have had to do this - ambulance rides, hospital stays, those are sometimes very large bills that are extremely detrimental for some people. And you can’t really plan for those either.
And probably another connection between the food insecurity and just having food allergies is the, most glaringly I would say, this luxury, or lack thereof, of having options. You just don’t have the options if you can’t afford to prioritize that. And then of course the lack of inclusion. If you can’t supply dinner - nevermind the ice cream - dinner, that is safe.. it’s a huge connection.
What might community members and families do to help those who are affected from food allergies and/or insecurity?
The biggest thing is being compassionate and kind of being open to education about it.
So being compassionate is huge. You don’t have to understand it, you don’t live it, you’re not even expected to understand it, but you can certainly try to be compassionate and be open minded about it.
And I’ve had the gamut of that. Schools that are, schools that aren’t. Friends - for the most part I’ve been very lucky and I have a couple of close friends that are just so willing to do what they can. Being flexible, can we eat here instead of here. A) is not really safe for us, can we go to B)? Can your child forgo their typical treat today, is that okay? Can they just not eat that today? And some people are not really for that, but other people are just so okay with that, and would never think of it on their own, but just putting it out there and mentioning it, being able to be vocal about it.
We can’t expect people to know this stuff and certainly not to think of it on their own, but once you hear it, if you’re compassionate about it, if you’re flexible, that is such a huge support for the people that have to live it.
Being proactive - ask us! What can I bring? What should I not bring? What can I serve? What can I do? All those things are so helpful, so appreciated, and maybe a lot of times the answer is - nothing! Don’t worry about it! I got it, but I so appreciate the question, and that you asked what can I bring, what is safe, what can I not bring.
As far as the communities, I’m big on surveys. I joined the PTA at my son’s school. My primary drive behind that was to eventually initiate some sort of school-wide dietary restriction survey. There are a lot of PTA sponsored functions and there’s usually food at them. So far there hasn’t been because of Covid, there’s almost nothing, so so far it hasn’t come up because there’s not really typical events going on like usual. But my whole reason for even joining, other than I want to support the school, and that’s fine, you know I make my own schedule and I can be available to volunteer and all that.
But I think people with dietary restrictions, a lot of the time, don’t want to be a burden, maybe are embarrassed and don’t want to say it out loud. But then when you get there and your kid can’t eat anything that’s on the table - I know how that feels. So if I can be a voice for all of those people who don’t want to say it out loud, who don't want to ask the question, who wouldn't think to say that - send out an anonymous survey!
Just send an email out, we’re having a PTA sponsored event, please list your dietary restrictions, it can be anonymous. And no problem, I’ll do the food shopping for it, I’ll take care of it, I don’t mind. I’ll make sure all those boxes are checked, where everyone who walks in the door can have something safe. Or we avoid having unsafe things, something like that. So I think community-wise, just asking the question.
And you don’t even have to know how to ask it, it can just be a very easy, what do you got? What are your dietary restrictions? What can we do? Is a really supportive way of saying, we don’t really know much about this but we’ll do what we can to keep people safe and fed.
What are some resources for those who are affected by or from food allergies that are available?
Oh there’s so many resources! And I feel very lucky, you know, if these are the cards we were dealt and we have to experience this - people who dealt with it 20 years ago had nothing compared to what we have today! There’s so many resources. A lot of the ones I use, and rely on often, are education and support based. So education-wise: FARE. General training, general information, put in a really easy-to-digest way. It’s information I can give out to family members, and they can refer to over time. There’s just so many training tools on FARE. And then FAACT - they are a wealth of information but I used them mostly for 504 information - for creating my son’s 504 plan for his school year. And I just dove into that website, so much civil rights information on there, what you’re able to ask for, how to go about asking it. So I highly recommend just to know your rights and know what’s out there. So FAACT for sure.
There’s apps - so Spokin is amazing for reviews, products, locations now. They just keep expanding and expanding, There’s bakeries, restaurants, they’re doing college reviews on cafeterias, say schools that have top 8, top 9 free food stations. So they’re just an amazing resource for finding anything, but product and location-based for the most part. Backstop is Epipen management and training. So you kind of list your epinephrine autoinjectors in there and the dates and it’s really useful. I mean we’re getting more and more in my family because now my son’s in public school and there’s 3 sets there, and when do they expire / they’re not in my view anymore / he’s not with me every day anymore. I can’t remember when they expire, so the epipen management is great.
And you can kind of have this team on there [Backstop App] - which I love this idea - where anyone can access this information and be trained in the same way. And I love the team management idea because for us it’s our allergists - we have multiple - our family, the schools as well. So all of these people it's one resource center for training.
And then there’s Instagram. My favorite instagram account - and there’s so many! I could go on and on with the advocates in this community but The Allergy Chef @theallergychef (Kathleena) she, herself, is allergic or intolerant to 200+ foods. So she has this insane resource called RAISE. You can filter down to the most miniscule type of food, nightshades, and crazy things, and they just build and build and build on what they have available. So you might feel like you have these crazy allergies that nobody’s heard of. No no no no. There are people! You probably don’t know them in your real life, but she knows what to do with that. So go see @theallergychef on Instagram!
Inclusion - The Teal Pumpkin Project, it’s the perfect timing for that. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Teal Pumpkin Project was started by FARE, I forget what year, but it promotes inclusion on Halloween. Of course Halloween is a scary time for those with food allergies, so it’s a way to promote - the point of it mostly, was to promote non-food items. And that goes for not just food allergies, that’s really good for kids with sensory issues and other things. So you put a teal pumpkin outside by your door and that’s an indication, just a silent indication, to anyone walking by that you might have a safe treat for them. Kept separate, in a separate bucket. So we participate in that every year.
That trunk or treat I did yesterday, my entire trunk was Teal-Pumpkin’d out, and we had only non food treats available. For anyone at the school who may, and I don’t know, I don’t know what other children might have dietary restrictions like my daughter, but they would be able to come to my trunk and potentially take anything.
Let’s see - Facebook! Food Allergy Treatment Talk - I find that group amazing, just so much research. And anecdotes - I mean you can Google anything you want. You’re going to find some good information, some not good information. These Facebook groups - No Nuts Moms Group, which definitely changed names and it’s escaping me what their new name is, but I go there for product information. It’s just such a time saver, people have already done this research. It’s literally a support group, because again, all of this is online communities. Because how often do we have someone super directly in our lives that maybe experience this too? We have one set of friends now that their son also has food allergies, so there’s someone in real life that can really, really relate to how we live. But not the rest of our friends. Not our cousins. So we have this online community that makes you feel and understand that you aren’t alone, people totally get this.
Podcasts - I listen to Killer Food Allergies, Holly is a mom of two young daughters. Whoever she’s talking to, she does amazing interviews, and I always feel like I’m in the room with them, they get me, I could say all the things they’re saying, there’s someone who understands. So in that way it’s just hugely supportive. So there are so many resources out there. You have to, yes, you have to go get them, you have to get out there, you have to read, you have to find it, but it’s there.
Do you find there is need for government intervention to provide offerings for those with food allergies?
Yes, I do. I would be curious to hear, since you said you’re getting a range of answers and this is probably not the typical direction one would take in answering the question maybe, but the biggest one for me actually - I mean there’s kind of this obvious route of financial support. But the biggest one - it’s kind of half happening but in a crappy way, is the FDA and labeling laws. They’re crap, they’re garbage. There’s probably so much food my kids could eat, so many products they could probably eat, but I don’t know. And I can’t even figure it out. And I can ask a question, they [food manufacturers] don’t have to answer. They don’t have to disclose ingredients. They don’t have to disclose ingredients! So I read “natural flavors”, "fruit flavors", “spices” - I have no idea what’s in this food, what’s in this product. I could save a lot of money (!) buying these more, what I will call mainstream brands, or just economical brands, or maybe in bulk, sometimes you buy in bulk to save but I’m not going to buy in bulk if I don’t know if it’s safe!
I can’t even fathom, really, walking through a food store and being able to just simply read a label and know what’s in it, know what equipment is shared on it, what’s in the facility or not. So that would save me a ton of time, which saves me money, and a ton of direct money because I wouldn’t have to pay a premium for certain things.
And you know maybe 9 times out of 10 it’s still unsafe, but at least I would know. So just the time saver alone, then you tack on that there’s probably a ton of stuff my kids could eat and at this juncture, I’m just not willing to take that risk. Some people are strictly label readers, they don’t worry about shared equipment and that’s totally fine if that’s your comfort level that’s totally fine. But there’s a large subset of people that that’s not fine for them, and we are one of those families. So we can not just eat anything. We have to do research on a lot, most, I would say, foods and products that we purchase.
So I would love to see labeling laws change. I advocated for the Faster Act, I had a really personal connection to that because one huge bullet point in that was sesame. I’ll be very excited, January 1st of 2023 when I don’t have to wonder if sesame is in a product. And 9 times out of 10 it’s probably not - there are so many products I’ve called on for sesame - and I can’t get a straight answer. So I don’t give it to them [my kids]. Which is so stupid. So I signed, I shared, I pushed for that and I cried the day that the Faster Act was passed because that shows that someone’s thinking about it.
It was the first act in I don’t know how long that got passed regarding food labeling so it was a step in the right direction. And I know now - and it’s not getting as much press I don’t know why - but the Food Label Modernization Act is in the process right now. They’re looking for signatures on that petition so I signed and shared am pushing for that one too. And I think it seems like it’s not everything we’d like to see in that, but there are some good things in it. I’ve seen disclosing Top 8 or soon to be Top 9 are they in the facility, all that is really helpful. And it does, I’m sure, come at a cost to some of these big companies. But now you’re going to get all these people that can buy your product! Because we know what’s in it! And we know how it’s produced. And now we’ll buy it if it’s safe. So the biggest thing for me is that.
And it doesn’t even just apply to food. I had an issue getting my daughter prescription medication. She’s allergic to banana. I went to pick it up, and something just told me open it up, look at it in the pharmacy, and it was cherry banana flavored. And the pharmacist was super helpful. First of all - it’s in the system. It’s a red flag in there, she’s allergic to banana. They hand me cherry banana flavored medication. She’s sick, she needed medicine, and now I’m going to give her something she could potentially have an anaphylactic reaction to and it’s not going to go well because she’s sick and her immune system is already compromised. So, I have this cherry banana medication in front of me, and she was young, it was a liquid dropper type. And the pharmacist - super helpful - but could not determine if it was artificial or natural flavor. So I didn’t take it! I was like, I can’t give this to her. And not to the pharmacist’s fault, but you can't answer me, if this is a natural banana flavor. Highly unlikely, but I’m not taking that chance today. And we had to do a whole run around in getting her only the cherry one, and that was available and that was fine and we made that switch, but all this comes with quite a bit of effort and paying attention to the details. I would have just given my daughter medicine, right, because it’s medicine it’s supposed to help her. But there’s no labeling required for medication. Same with cosmetics, we’re super careful with cosmetics, and they don’t have to be labeled in the same way. But they usually contain some kind of almond oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut all that good stuff.
And again, I pay a lot of money for kids shampoo. What a silly thing! Right? I could probably use a lot of other shampoos, if they were properly labeled, but I keep buying them this one shampoo that has no food derivatives in it and I know what it’s free of, so fine. But that comes at a huge premium. So if the FDA could pass some better labeling laws that would largely impact, I think, the wallets of food allergy families.
Do you have any tips for those starting their own business who are interested in being food allergy friendly with their products?
Yea, I think as far as just starting your own business, we were given this advice - Sell. Just start selling. You don’t have to get all your ducks in a row, I know you think you do. You need the website, and you need the packaging, and the stickers, all the fun stuff. And you don’t. Just get going. Otherwise you’re never gonna get going. We have only layered and layered onto our business every single year. There’s no way on earth 3 or 4 years ago I could do all the things I’m doing now. I wouldn’t have fit this interview in, I had an infant! Everything.
So you just have to get going because eventually you just layer and things make sense and you learn and you change and you pivot and that’s fine. But just, get going.
And as far as catering to the food allergy community. Maybe this goes for anything. That is such a passion for me, it just made so much sense to me because I live it every day. So going through this process of confirming ingredients are safe, I do this every day. So just doing it for my business too, was seamless for me. And it was really daunting at first, this responsibility, you know I’m responsible for my own kids, that’s one thing. Being responsible for anyone else who may buy my product is huge. And that took a lot for me to swallow. But I take it really seriously, and I think when people can make that personal connection to it, they understand that.
Sometimes people, I think, test me a little bit - well what brand do you use for this and how do you check that, and then they’re like, ok yea you get it. And I understand that feeling, because I get it when someone says, oh my son’s allergic to this, or that, has an allergy or I have an allergy, it’s like OH you get it, you get it. So specifically to the food allergy community I think, kind of get involved. It helped me to, say, on social media platforms to get involved and chat with people because that connection is so much more valued then.
And I understand the flip side of that, when I find a safe product. To know how that feels. So now I’m creating one, and it’s a give-and-take and you contribute to this really amazing community of people. And it is such a welcoming and appreciative community of people who now sort of show compassion in other ways because of the way we have to live. So just being part of that community in any capacity has been just really rewarding for me.
So if you’re going to dive into that, I imagine you have some personal connection to it to begin with. In my experience and reading the bios of other business owners who focus on being allergy friendly, they always have a story, this person or that person that they started this for, or themselves. So there’s usually a personal connection there anyway. So if you already have that layer, the passion is probably already fueling it. And you just have to dive in.
I appreciate this, and this conversation. I try to do everything with such intention in regards to my business. My kids are always kind of what’s behind that. And I am very particular about what I put out there.
Because I want to show them [my kids] that you can talk about this, you don’t have to hide behind it. You can do a good thing with this.
Everybody’s got their thing, this is our thing, it’s ok, people deal with things. And it’s not all pretty, right, so in our family, this is one of those things. And that’s fine, and we live, and we do as many things as we can, safely.
I want to set that example for them. You know, having this business at all, is one of those things. And if you can’t find it, or have it, make it. Go get out there and make it work for you. Maybe within the confines of your own safe box, but you can have it too. And you just have to keep going.
If you've read this far, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading, learning, listening, and being a part of our journey.