Tag Archives: the inspirations

The Inspirations: Nubby Twiglet

I discovered Nubby Twiglet around the same time as stumbled across Gala‘s blog. I fell in love with her enviable personal style, and like any good internet stalker I loved her daily blog updates – from the clothes she wore to the pretty fonts she designed. Then in 2010, when I decided to rebrand Rock n Roll Bride, I knew there was only one graphic designer I wanted to work with. Luckily for me she was able to squeeze me into her crazy-busy schedule and the rest, as they say, is history!

Since my logo and website overhaul we’ve also worked together on my media pack as well as Rock n Roll Bride Magazine…and yes, we are working on issue two right now (sneak peek at the end of this interview). AND in just 3 weeks time she, Gala and I just happen to be in Las Vegas at the same time so we’re going to hang out in (OMG) actual real life…AND do a photo shoot together (squeeee!)

Jesus, I must get my fan-girlness in check before that happens…

Hey Nubby, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. What’s the ‘Nubby Twiglet story’?

Hello! I’m a graphic designer and blogger based in Portland, Oregon. My main focus is in branding but I am also very passionate about web and editorial design. I’ve been blogging since 2001 (back when Live Journal was all the rage!) and launched my personal blog in 2007. I am a self-proclaimed aesthetics junkie and have always been passionate about sharing the world around me with the hopes of inspiring others. The one defining characteristic readers usually notice right away is that I don’t make a clear division between my work, wardrobe and surroundings; it’s all visually interconnected to form a distinct lifestyle. This is the vision I share on my blog, which can be quickly summed up as “Design, Marketing and Style Magnified.”

What about your name? Where did ‘Nubby Twiglet’ come from and why did you decide to use a pseudonym online?

Nubby Twiglet originated from a combination of nicknames I had back in high school. It was a way to separate my online and offline lives when I started blogging 10+ years ago (at that time, people rarely used their real names online). My legal name is Shauna and I actually like it! But what happened almost instantaneously is that my online existence so closely mirrored my offline life and people couldn’t easily separate the two. When I began meeting people in person that I’d first known online, they referred to me as “Nubby” so I embraced it. It’s that simple!

You’ve managed to land yourself some pretty impressive design contracts – notably Solestruck and Forever 21.  How did those come about?

I was lucky that these connections came about quite organically. Forever 21 knew about my blog and contacted me directly about designing their blog and accompanying logo a few years back. For being such a large company, they were incredibly friendly and open-minded, giving me nearly complete creative freedom. Solestruck is a Portland-based company and if you haven’t noticed, I am totally shoe-crazy. We’d known about each other for a long time and it was only a matter of time until we joined forces! They’re another company I love working with because they trust designers to do their thing and extend an amazing amount of creative freedom.

Advanced warning of a serious fan-girl gush right here…I have no words to describe how I felt when I first discovered your blog and saw your work. I love its bold and daring nature, the strong colours and your incredible use of fonts! When you first designed my logo for example, it was literally like you had gone inside my head and pulled out what I didn’t even know was there!

What inspires you, and how did you use this to develop your own design style?

Thank you! I’ve always been a very visually-driven person and even before I became a designer, I was always on the lookout for inspiration in fashion magazines and on the web. Really though, inspiration is all around us and this is partly why I carry a camera everywhere. Inspiration can strike at any moment, in the form of a menu or a subway map or a business card at your favorite boutique.

When I’m working with a new client, I first have them fill out a questionnaire and show me what inspires them. I also collect my own inspiration and include this in the initial presentation to make sure we’re on the same track. Every designer has their own process and mine has come out of years of trial and error. It’s definitely an ongoing, evolving process.

When and why did you decide to start a blog to support your graphic design work?

I started blogging in 2001 over on Live Journal because like many people in their early 20s, I felt the need to share my personal stories and surroundings. This was way before I became a designer but even back then, I’d say that my aesthetic vision was pretty clear. Having my own business was always very important to me (I actually presented Nubbytwiglet.com as my senior project when I majored in Business) and I knew that if I stayed consistent and kept pushing forward, all the pieces would fall into place.

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The Inspirations: Mark Niemierko

How can I possibly even begin to describe Mark Niemierko? Well, he’s a high-end wedding planner based in London and a force to be reckoned with! But more than that he’s one hell of a character, and one I’m honoured to call a friend. We met a few years ago when he invited me for drinks at The Charlotte Hotel (read: a fancy hotel that I couldn’t afford to even step foot in) and I was super nervous. I wondered why the hell he wanted to meet me. After all, from the outside we appeared to be very different people and to have very different tastes and ideas about what made a great wedding. However let me tell you, I was wrong…it’s not only nonconformists like me that get judged by the way they look!

Mark and I got on like a house of fire from the moment we met and I can, in all honestly, say he’s rated high in my internal list of favourite people.

Despite his recognition and reputation, Mark is actually quite a private person. You won’t find him spilling his guts on Twitter or wanting to tell people every idiosyncrasy of his life or his business. In actual fact, I haven’t seen that many interviews or articles about him online that really peel back those designer suit layers and get right inside his head. Which is why, dear Green-Roomers, I’m utterly thrilled to be the one to share his secrets right here!

If you dont learn a thing or two about running your own sucessful business from Mr Niemierko then I dont know where you will. It doesnt matter what kind of weddings or which market you want to attract; Mark is a genius marketeer, and the perfect representation of his brand.

Photography Credit: Segerius Bruce Photography

So Mark, what’s the ‘Niemierko’ story? How did you start your company and what’s happened between then and now?

I started in weddings 7 years ago. Prior to that I worked in Film and TV Production as Head of Operations. However I also dabbled in PR and Events within Film. I really enjoyed the events side of my role and wanted to start my own events company. I was 23. I had a grand plan of an events company which would also have a small wedding planning arm to it. There weren’t many planners in London – well not tasteful ones – 7 years ago, and most event companies wouldn’t touch weddings due to the effort and time involved in them, they didn’t see them as profit making. So I spotted a gap in the market and a niche that I could cater for. Bizarrely and pretty instantly, through having a nicely designed website and a bit of google advertising the enquiries started to come in!

You learn from the start. I did day management for some of my friends weddings to get an idea (which by the way is a service we don’t offer any more), attended wedding fairs up and down the country (not just the high-end ones! I saw some shocking tacky things!) 6 months before launching I researched the market in great detail – was I going to do a few high-end events or lots of mass market weddings? My initial aim was to plan 15 weddings a year earning around £6k per wedding. It took me two years to realise that a) that wasn’t enough to charge for my time and b) I couldn’t really afford to live and grow my company on this fee.

So I then decided in 2008, around the start of the recession, to focus just on the top end. I put my fees up (our fee now starts at £25,000 + VAT and I cap the weddings that I plan and design to only 8 per year).  2007 was also the time I brought in a full time assistant. I now have 3 of them.

Your company is now a globally recognised brand within the wedding industry. How have you progressed from simply being ‘yet another wedding planner’ to being ‘Mark Niemierko’?

I don’t think Niemierko is quite where I’d like it to be just yet. It’s still growing and always will… I certainly do believe in myself and my company however. It’s not just any other wedding planning firm. We offer the best service, a seriously personal touch. More to the point what makes us so unique is the Niemierko couples. They are the best Brides and Grooms, no drama, totally chilled, excited and at the forefront what’s most important to them is ensuring they celebrate their love and marriage. They leave the creation and detail of a memorable event to me.

I do believe you have to remember that working within the wedding industry, and especially for planners, that couples buy into you. I was 23 when I started planning – I used to wear t-shirt, jeans and converse all the time. I quickly changed my look to reflect the brand I wanted to be. I took to only wearing suits and ties straight away to look older – you have to dress the part. The suits and ties are totally me now, as well as a reflection of my company!

The honest truth to building up a good reputation and brand, aside from delivering great work, is being yourself. Everyone can spot a false personality straight away. Plus you mustn’t have an ego. Remember you are working in the service industry – you are here to serve and the Brides and Grooms are the stars. I got to know everyone from small suppliers to the big names, and have always focused on keeping good relationships with all suppliers. I also focused on brand associations… so associating my new young company with established luxury brands like Claridge’s and Van Cleef and Arpels early on gave me respect within my industry.

Photography Credit: Xander Casey Photography

You get a lot of press coverage in wedding magazines and on wedding blogs, both here and in The States. How did you do this, and have you got any advice for others wanting to do the same?

Simply introduce yourself to everyone but don’t spam or nag anyone. When I launched I brought every Bridal magazine. I looked at the masthead of every story to see who wrote the features I could be credited in. I worked out who was the best editor to approach (don’t always assume the Editor in Chief is the best person – they get inundated – so you could end up under a lot of other paper!) I wrote a launch press release, gave myself a different spin on what was unique about me. I focused on the fact that we offered a styling and fashion service – i.e helping the Bride find her perfect dress. Once I’d hand delivered the press releases I then followed up with a call or email.

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The Inspirations: Mark Niemierko

How can I possibly even begin to describe Mark Niemierko? Well, he's a high-end wedding planner based in London and a force to be reckoned with! But more than that he's one hell of a character, and one I'm honoured to call a friend. We met a few years ago when he invited me for drinks at The Charlotte Hotel (read: a fancy hotel that I couldn't afford to even step foot in) and I was super nervous. I wondered why the hell he wanted to meet me. After all, from the outside we appeared to be very different people and to have very different tastes and ideas about what made a great wedding. However let me tell you, I was wrong...it's not only nonconformists like me that get judged by the way they look! Mark and I got on like a house of fire from the moment we met and I can, in all honestly, say he's rated high in my internal list of favourite people. Despite his recognition and reputation, Mark is actually quite a private person. You won't find him spilling his guts on Twitter or wanting to tell people every idiosyncrasy of his life or his business. In actual fact, I haven't seen that many interviews or articles about him online that really peel back those designer suit layers and get right inside his head. Which is why, dear Green-Roomers, I'm utterly thrilled to be the one to share his secrets right here! If you dont learn a thing or two about running your own sucessful business from Mr Niemierko then I dont know where you will. It doesnt matter what kind of weddings or which market you want to attract; Mark is a genius marketeer, and the perfect representation of his brand.

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The Inspirations: Gala Darling

Photography Credit: Lydia Hudgens

Whenever I’m asked about who my favourite blogger is or where I find my inspiration, Gala Darling‘s name always comes up. It’s hard to explain exactly how I felt when I first discovered her blog, then called iCING, back in 2009 – here was a girl, very much like me (well we both had pink hair and tattoos!) who was making a massive name her herself in the blogging world, but doing it her own way and with such inimitable style and sparkle – something I very much wished I could one day to do too.

I was lucky enough to meet Gala when I was in LA last August. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s just as beautiful and wonderful (OK actually more so) in real life as she is online. I’m thrilled to share this interview with you all today. I hope you find her as inspiring as I do!

…And if this article isn’t enough, you can find more Gala-stalking on my blog here.

Gala & me in LA

Hi Gala, for those GreenRoom-ers who might not have been introduced to you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I started my blog in 2006. It seemed like the perfect job to me, as I was able to harness my love of writing, pretty pictures & being online ALL DAY LONG! So, though I started this blog 5 years ago, I’ve actually been writing on the internet since 1996. I had a slew of online journals & diaries, containing varying degrees of embarrassment! Though it just seemed like time-wasting fun back then, doing so much writing, essentially in public, really taught me a lot about writing for an audience & learning the best ways to interact with them. All those lessons have stood me in really good stead for what I’m doing now!

Before I made the jump to being a full-time blogger, though, I worked a million odd jobs, looking for something that would keep my interest. I sold newspaper advertising, worked in a bank, worked in a bookshop, managed a Lush Cosmetics store, & plenty of other things!

One of the many thing that I find so inspiring about you is how you’ve made the transition from being ‘just’ a blogger to other projects. Can you tell us a little about them and how they came about?

Yeah, I’m very lucky in that my blog has opened up a lot of opportunities for me! I think it’s really important to put yourself out there — otherwise, how will anyone know you exist, so they can offer you something wonderful?! In addition to writing for my blog, I do quite a lot of public speaking, appear in the odd campaign for some brand or another, wrestle with my inbox & work on any of the other 3,000 top secret projects I have bubbling away!

Gala modelling for Coach – Photography Credit: Reed Krakoff

Being a blogger is anything but ‘regular’ but what is a ‘normal’ day at work for Gala Darling?

I wake up at 7am & my husband & I take our dogs for a walk. Once they’re home & fed, I kiss my husband goodbye at the door & he goes uptown to work. Then I spend the day working, which can mean a lot of things. I either sit in my office at home, writing, or go to a nearby cafe & work there for a change of scenery. I have meetings & appointments during the day, too, & then go to the gym every evening!

I find that my brain is sharpest first thing in the morning, so I get my best writing done then. The afternoon is usually reserved for dealing with email, other projects or general administrative stuff.

Gala & Mike’s wedding, 2011 – Photography Credit: Chloe Rice

Can you tell us about your manifesto, Radical Self Love? Also what made you shift the focus of your blog from being mostly fashion-led to this?

Radical self love is about learning how to be good to ourselves, & learning how to fall in love with ourselves as well. It’s something the majority of us are never taught & I think it leaves us really ill-equipped to deal with some of the realities of life. If you don’t love or respect yourself, your relationships will suffer, your career will be a wreck, & your health probably won’t be too fabulous either. These things combined make a perfect storm of unhappiness!

I think that when we are taught a few tricks around how to love ourselves more, & how to appreciate ourselves, that can spark an internal revolution where we start to raise our standards & behave more like the people we always wanted to be. This can only be a positive thing! Sharing my experiences with other women & hearing about their own journeys towards self love & self acceptance is so important to me, & something I think I’ll always be working on.

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The Inspirations: Emma Case (in Your Face)

There are a few things you need to know about Emma Case before you read today’s Inspirations interview. Emma and I met about 2 years ago when she submitted this wedding to me. It was only the second wedding she’d ever shot. This was before the whole ‘vintage’ editing that you now see, like, everywhere was popular and I fell instantly in love with her unique style. A few months later we decided to meet up in London. We went for sushi and I fell instantly in love again, only this time with her.

I really don’t have enough words to express how much I love this girl or how bloody talented she is. I heard her speak about her work for the first time at the Featherlove workshop this summer and I wanted to cry because she’s just so damn inspirational. Needless to say, she was the obvious choice to be included in this series…also because she’s just as obsessed with her cat Max and I am with Henry & Rachel. If you have’t heard of Emma before this then my dears, you are in for a treat.

…oh and the (in your face) thing? Yeah private joke, sorry about that…I can’t really remember where it came from but it was something to do with making everything in a conversation rhyme. I now can’t say her name without adding it onto the end now though. I’m pretty hilarious no?

Photography Credit: Emma Case by Anna Hardy Photography

So go on then, what’s the Emma Case story? How did you get into photography and how did you make the transition from that to being the all encompassing wedding photography force that you are now… in I might add, a dauntingly short amount of time?

Over the past 10 years I’ve worked as an actress.  I’ve always hated saying that (but that’s what it says on my Self Assessment form) because when you tell people that they say “What you been in?”….. well nothing actually… on TV anyway. I’ve done a lot of theatre work in schools and have travelled the country teaching kids about sex, drugs, puberty, healthy eating – you name it.  Most of this sort of work gets a bit of a bad reputation but I’m immensely proud of it and have absolutely loved every second.  I’ve got to see the whole country, worked with some fantastic people, had an absolute ball at work every day and it probably sounds corny but maybe made a small difference, somewhere, maybe.

I then started to learn Sign Language in 2008.  I volunteered for a Deaf and hearing drama group and then started working as a Support Worker for Deaf Adults in between acting jobs.  I completely fell in love with the language, the culture… everything.  I then got an acting job with Deafinitely Theatre (a Deaf led Theatre Company) touring a play called ‘Double Sentence’ at The Soho Theatre in November 09. It was the biggest job I’d ever had and when I think back to when I was at college… this sort of job was what I had dreamed about doing… so in a weird way I felt that I had accomplished what I had set out to do.

Meanwhile Pete, my now husband, gave me my first DSLR on Christmas Day 07.  Thinking back now, I’m not actually sure why I asked for a camera… I’d had a polaroid camera for a few years and cheap film cameras when I went on holiday but I wasn’t one of these people who had a camera in their hand from the age of six or anything.  The following day, Boxing Day, me and Pete went for a walk (with my new camera) and he proposed.  I began to research things for our wedding and started with the photography but I couldn’t find the kind of wedding photography that I had in my head. However what I did find was a world of American weddings and photographers that just completely blew me away.  They were natural and fun and relaxed and completely exciting and full of emotion… I wanted to take photos like that.  So I became a complete photography nerd – reading blogs, watching tutorials, staying up til 3am playing with Photoshop… just soaking up as much as I could.

In May 2009 I decided to start a flickr account.  I’d been taking pictures of Pete’s band and my friends’ children so it was a good place to put my pictures. About 6 months later some friends of ours, Ruth and Dan got in touch to say that they were getting married and would I take pictures. It was going to be a relaxed wedding at a Youth Hostel, Ruth was wearing a vintage dress, lots of wild flowers in jam jars, cupcakes etc. It’s funny, writing that now it seems pretty normal, but back then it was pretty different to what was out there.  I photographed the wedding and put some images up on Flickr and and my own little photography blog. I was blogging about our life, our cat and my breakfast.  It’s funny as I can distinctly remember getting my first comment and how happy I was… and slowly I started getting a few friends who would check in regularly. At the time I’d been devouring Rock n Roll Bride, looking at all the amazing photography, so I decided to pluck up the courage to send the wedding to Kat.

Kat blogged the wedding the end of Oct 2009 and I remember just staring at the page, looking at my photos among all those others I’d admired.  It all then went a little bit nuts.  I started to get enquiries from like-minded couples who wanted something different, couples who were stamping their own personality on their wedding.  I had no idea about setting up a business, no idea about what photographers charge etc so I started out really cheap.  I was learning with each wedding I shot and before I knew it I was booked up with about 30 weddings in my first year.  The whole thing was pretty daunting and I remember getting a comment from Steve Gerrard on one of my pictures (the wedding photographer not the footballer!) so I emailed him, pretty much a ‘help!’ email and he invited me to his studio for a cuppa. We chatted and from then on he was a constant source of help and advice and I’ve learnt so much from him.

Once I started shooting more and more weddings, my confidence grew and because they were all alternative weddings a lot of the wedding blogs would get in touch to feature them.  This meant that very quickly I was reaching a wide audience and without having to pay for any advertising I was getting more and more enquiries from couples that wanted something different.  The down side to this was that I booked myself up for pretty much 18 months on a very low price, so financially, the business didn’t necessarily flourish as quickly as it should and also I was learning very publicly Anything I did was being watched and although I’d pretty much only just started I felt quite a bit of pressure.

Once I’d finished my first year I had picked up quite a bit of a following through Twitter, my blog and Facebook and this just seemed to keep growing. Pete & I (he joined the business full time this year) have just finished our second year and have shot another 40 weddings and managed to get married ourselves (some where in the middle of it!) and the support from the very beginning has been incredible.

What is Pete’s role in the business and how is it working with your husband? Do you ever want to kill each other living and working together?

We’ve been working together for nearly a year now and it’s great.  Pete’s always been the kind of person that has been interested in what I’m doing so even before we both worked on the business he knew the in’s and out’s, knew all my friends etc.  But now we get to share it all.  He comes with me to all the weddings so he gets to know all the couples and we get to go on little road trips every weekend (he makes a mean bap for the journey) and then we get to be together all week.

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The Inspirations: Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation

Welcome to The Inspirations. In this series I’ll be interviewing people that have influenced me and my business in a variety of ways. I find every single one of the people I’ll be profilling incredibly inspiring and I hope you will too.

This week I chatted to Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation. I first discovered Emma after seeing her interviewed on the now defunct ‘Working Lunch’ BBC TV show. She was talking about supporting 5-9ers – i.e. people that run a small business in addition to holding down a full time job. This was exactly the position I was in at that time. I was working five days a week at the shopping channel, and running Rock n Roll Bride in my hours off.

I was so incredibly inspired by her story that I decided to drop her an email to tell her so. Within days Emma has got back to me, said she loved my website and would I be willing to be profiled in a book she was writing on the subject, ‘Working 5 to 9 – how to start a successful business in your spare time’. Of course I said yes (my photo was even on the cover!) and since then I’ve been incredibly motivated by everything Emma does, in particular her work with Start Up Britain, a company that supports people wanting to start their own businesses.

Not only is Emma amazing at what she does but the fact that her business is helping your business, makes her the perfect candidate for this first interview. I hope you find her as incredible as I do!

 

Can you tell us what inspired you to start Enterprise Nation?

After studying Law and Japanese at University I joined Arthur Andersen which, at the time, was the world’s largest professional services company and in my 5 years spent with the firm I created an inward investment group helping international clients set up operations and offices in Europe. This career led to me starting my first business – Techlocate – which was an incredible experience as, with a business partner, I launched, grew and successfully sold the company within 2 years. It very quickly taught me a lot about business! Having started and grown the first business from my spare room, this was the inspiration for second venture; Enterprise Nation which started life as the home business website but has since developed into a small business support company, helping anyone start and grow a successful business. Over the past 6 years we’ve developed the website, published books and kits, launched funds and been heavily involved in national start up campaigns – one of the great highs of being your own boss is you never quite know what next week/month/year will bring!

Have you ever faced any major obstacles in your career and how have you overcome them?

I wouldn’t really call them obstacles – more like challenges. The ones I’ve faced, to be honest, have mainly been around people ie have I chosen the right people to partner with us/ work for us etc. I’ve got this wrong a few times but I’d like to think I learn every time as to what to look out for next time round! The secret, I believe, is to learn quick and move on. There are a whole host of good people and profitable opportunities out there awaiting your call!

Has anyone ever criticised you or what you do and how have you dealt with this?

The harshest criticism I ever received was not related to my business but to the StartUp Britain campaign of which I’m a co-founder and was interim CEO for the first six months after launch on 28th March 2011. The campaign had a high profile launch with the Prime Minister and Chancellor present so the spotlight was on us and a number of people did not respond favourably to what we were doing. At first, I couldn’t understand this as the campaign is not funded by government (ie not costing the taxpayer any money) and its objectives are to help more people start and grow a business – how could that possibly be knocked?! What I quickly realised is that the best policy to allay criticism is to communicate better – understand the object of criticism, offer a response and try to turn critics into friends. I’m delighted to say the campaign now has many thousands of friends!

How important is standing out from the crowd and your competitors for you?

I think it is more critical than ever to stand out from the crowd as there is a lot of noise in our daily lives and as a small business owner, you have to be noticed. I try to achieve this by having a deep understanding of my market (start ups and small business), having an opinion, and then communicating that opinion via a range of channels. My opinion on small business is that anyone is capable of becoming their own boss and you can start and grow at low risk and on a low budget – I communicate this opinion through my website, in my books, at events and presentations and via videos/eBooks/in the press etc. The key to standing out is to become an expert in your field so customers and the media come to you for your opinion, products and services.

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The Inspirations: Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation

Welcome to The Inspirations. In this series I'll be interviewing people that have influenced me and my business in a variety of ways. I find every single one of the people I'll be profilling incredibly inspiring and I hope you will too. This week I chatted to Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation. I first discovered Emma after seeing her interviewed on the now defunct 'Working Lunch' BBC TV show. She was talking about supporting 5-9ers - i.e. people that work full time but run a small business in their own time. At the time, this was exactly the position I was in. I was working full time at the shopping channel, and running Rock n Roll Bride on my time off. I was so incredibly inspired by her story that I decided to drop her an email to tell her so. Within days Emma has got back to me, said she loved my website and would I be willing to be profiled in a book she was writing on the subject, 'Working 5 to 9 – how to start a successful business in your spare time’. Of course I said yes (my photo was even on the cover!) and since then I've been incredibly motivated by everything Emma does, in particular her work with Start Up Britain, a company that supports people wanting to start their own businesses. Not only is Emma amazing at what she does but the fact that her business is helping your business, makes her the perfect candidate for this first interview. I hope you find her as incredible as I do!

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