Your questions, answered

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was coming up on my 3000th post, and that in observance of that, I’d answer whichever questions you cared to lob my way. Here, at last, are the answers.

If you were a plant, what would you be? If you were a cocktail, what would you be?

I would be a plant that requires a great deal of sunshine and a not-insignificant amount of care. And I think I’d be a whiskey sour: sweet but tart.

Which item that you, for whatever reason, talked yourself out of purchasing, do you regret missing out on the most? And what item that you surplussed from your closet, for whatever reason, do you miss the most?

Back in the Lucky days, we got this Chanel necklace in for a shoot that was composed entirely of (fake) pills—you can see it here—and at the time I was on a ton of different medications for my depression and my whole life was pills, it felt like, and I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. I don’t think I ever would have worn it much, which is why I didn’t buy it, but I still would have been delighted to own it. And I regret getting rid of the old, beaten-up Levi’s jacket I’d owned since high school.

How much money do you spend on shoes/clothes/accessories per month?

A whole bunch of you were curious about this one. And the most honest answer I am willing to give is the following: far less than I used to.

What’s the most recent addition to your bucket list? What’s been on your bucket list the longest time?

I’ve never really had a bucket list—too much pressure—but I do aspire to do a lot more traveling. I’m dying to go to Tokyo, but also Machu Picchu, Sicily, and about a dozen other places.

What have you learned/advice you’d give that goes against conventional wisdom?

It is my belief that life is actually quite long, and that there is plenty of time to get it right.

Which items/brands (for both fashion and beauty) do you find seriously overrated?

I dislike all expensive, logo-fied designer bags, and find most of the big status brands to be seriously not worth it.

When did you start to feel confident in who you are? What happened (or didn’t happen) to invoke that confidence?

When I started seeing my byline in magazines, I began to think I could make my living in publishing, and that made me feel  good about myself. Leaving my marriage provided a big confidence boost, as did starting GOACA.

What questions do you like to ask on a first date?

I always like to hear about where somebody comes from, and what their relationship to their family is like. But dates are like snowflakes—each one is different—and you never quite know where the conversation is going to lead you.

Do you ever think about living somewhere other than NYC?

I dream of a sweet little bungalow in the Hollywood Hills with a lemon tree out back, and sometimes I consider decamping to the Berkshires, but odds are I’ll stay in New York. It’s where most of the people I love are.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

For pretty much as long as I can recall, I knew I wanted to be a writer. However, as a very young girl I wanted to act.

What do you miss about Sassy/ Lucky (aside from the wardrobe budget)?

I miss the spirit of collaboration, and working around smart, interesting people. Putting out a magazine once a month was exhilarating. And most everyone I worked with at both of those jobs was really funny—I used to come home from Sassy with a stomachache from laughing so hard. Also, I really miss the beauty closet.

What fashion trend do you wish would stay hidden in the back of the closet forever and ever?

I don’t think maxi-dresses do anyone’s body any favors.

What changes have you had to make (if any) to your lifestyle in general, but to your self-care in particular, after becoming a GOACA?

I spend a hell of a lot more money on skincare products now. And I exercise (semi) regularly.

What do you consider your most significant professional “failure”?

I guess my biggest failure was being fired from Lucky, but in reality, that jump-started my life in some meaningful ways and made me a much happier person.

How often do you purge your closet and how do you do it? Does it vary by clothes, shoes and bags?

About once a year, but I’m always doing mini-purges. I just look at a particular article of clothing or accessory and think, Nope. I have no real system for it.

This is a very Sassy-specific question: you got to meet a lot of famous/cool musicians during your time there. Which one was the most unexpectedly interesting/fun to talk to?

I loved interviewing the Beastie Boys—really smart, interesting nice guys whose music I admire a lot, and I got to hang out on the set of the “Sabotage” video, which was fun. But that was for New York magazine, not Sassy.

At what age did you really know your own style?

Not until My 40s, I don’t think. Ironically, I think I was the very least in touch with my personal style during many of the years that I was a fashion editor, because I was trying so hard to fit the mold.

What are you looking forward to/excited about?

I’m excited to spend some of the summer out in Sag Harbor, and to get used to biking around the city, and to finish my book.
When will your book be finished/published?
It’s due this fall, and due to be published in the fall of 2019.

Have you ever dealt with a mean-spirited haidressser/aesthetician as a GOACA, who critiqued your appearance in a way that wasn’t helpful or appropriate? If so, how did you handle it? 

I never have, thankfully, and I wouldn’t tolerate it. I consider it part of the job of hairdressers and aestheticians to make us feel pretty and confident.

What are your thoughts on”fast fashion”?

I like to include some fast fashion brands here because the price is right, but too often that’s at the expense of fair treatment of workers. I pay attention to labor practices and try only to link to (and wear) clothes by brands that are working to improve conditions for their factory employees.

What advice do you have about dating in your 40s and 50s?

The only way I survive dating at this stage in the game is by taking breaks when it all gets to be too much. I also no longer really believe in deal-breakers the way I used to when I was younger. The only deal-breaker I currently hang on to is that I won’t date anyone who voted for our current president.

I’m interested in how you started GOACA. Is it 100% produced by you, or do you have someone to proofread, etc?

Aside from the very occasional guest post, GOACA is 100% created by me—typos and all. I started it one day quite by chance by following a link to a blog template on a website I liked.

If you could go back and change one thing—do it over, make it different, say it differently— what would it be and why?

I would have enjoyed my successes more instead of always stressing over what comes next. And I would have spent more time with a few beloved-and-now-deceased relatives.

Aside from Maria Cornejo, are there any labels that you find to be consistently high quality (and stylish, obvs)? As I increasingly want fewer, better things, I am finding good quality construction hard to identify, especially online. Quality seems to be inconsistent even within a label.

Such a good question. I think Vince makes quality, trend-resistant clothes that I never regret buying. I also like Ulla Johnson, though her stuff is pricier than it should be. And I dig Nili Lotan, though she’s not cheap either. For button-downs, I love Xirena, and as far as basics go, Everlane’s stuff rarely disappoints, and it’s so well-priced.

Would you ever consider providing (at a cost, of course) personal shopping services? There are plenty of us out here who are in need of a critical but knowledgeable and friendly eye whilst shopping. I feel like you have the credentials, connections, and experience with various labels to offer this as a service to GOACA. Is this something that you have thought of before?

That’s funny—a friend and I were kicking around this idea a while back, but nothing ever came of it.

How do you get your news?

I read the Times and New Yorker online, check my Twitter feed for news alerts, and check out feminist websites like Bitch and Dame. I used to keep MSNBC on the TV while I was working, but stopped doing that after November, 2016.

What are you most afraid of?

Rats, snakes and meanies.

You know when you’re trying to fall asleep and all of a sudden your brain starts thinking of that time you did something horrible to someone else, did something really embarrassing, or just eff’d up? What story from your past keeps you up at night?

A couple of years ago, I was going through a rough time and wasn’t there for a very close friend who has been super-loyal to me and whose father had just died. I still feel pretty crappy about that.

How did you first know that you wanted to get divorced? Was it a difficult decision? Do you ever wonder what would happen if you didn’t?

I really knew I was going to do it when I thought about the happily married couples I knew, and decided that if I stayed with my husband, I was telling myself I didn’t deserve to be as happy as they were. It wasn’t an easy decision, but once I made it, I was hugely relieved. I rarely I think about what might have happened if I stayed. I think I would have left eventually in any case.

Are you really cool with Christina Kelly now? Is there anyone from your professional past that you’re not really cool with? Also, what ever happened to Karen Catchpole?

Yes, Christina and I are on perfectly great terms, although I haven’t seen her in ages. Karen travels the world and writes, from what I understand. And sure, there are people from my professional past I’m less than cool with, but it would be uncool to name them here. (For the uninitiated, Karen and Christina are people I worked with at Sassy.)

Do you have a motto that you live by?

Not really, but I have a sticker on my laptop that reads “Do No Harm, Take No Shit,” and I try to stick to that.

It seems like most people with a platform weighed in on the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain – I was wondering if you debated writing a post about it/depression or you just don’t think it is appropriate content for GOACA? Or had nothing to “add”? 

As somebody who has suffered from depression that has been, at times, debilitating and treatment-resistant, I am always upset when anyone in the public eye dies by suicide, because I think it can be very triggering for those who suffer (I was in a bad place when Robin Williams died, and it shook me, badly). I know from personal experience that you can appear to the world to have everything while your universe is falling apart, so neither of these deaths shocked me, but they both made me deeply sad. And they made me reflect on how hugely fortunate I feel that my own depression has been tamed for the time being.  I think the conversation around mental health in this country is slowly changing, and that makes me hopeful.

Can you tell us about your dogs? How do you manage them in a NYC apartment? 

I got a few questions about the pooches, so here goes. Their names are Sammy and Mister, and they are eight and three years old, respectively. Sammy is a schnoodle, and Mister is a mixed breed who traveled all the way from Thailand (where there is an awful dog overpopulation problem) to live with me, courtesy of the Soi Dog Foundation. Sammy was none too pleased when I brought Mister home and there were a couple of fights that scared the daylights out of me, but now they get along tremendously. As far as raising them in a New York apartment goes, I figure that if this place is big enough for me, it’s big enough for them. Finally, DeDe, who is one of GOACA’s most loyal readers and funniest commenters, asked what the naughtiest thing either of my dogs has done, and the answer is this: Mister once chewed a huge hole in my mattress.

Did you consider having children as a single parent? What was that thought process like?

I did consider having a child on my own, quite seriously. I know a couple of women who’ve done that and I have a lot of respect and admiration for them. But I just didn’t think it was something I personally could handle without a partner.

What’s it like to be famous? Is it fun when fans approach you or annoying? Do you feel pressure to dress or look a certain way because people know who you are?

This question made me laugh, because I’m quite certain I fly well under the radar. However, I do on occasion get recognized, mostly by former Sassy readers, but often by Lucky and GOACA readers too, and it’s always perfectly delightful.

You made a comment about DVF and how you don’t show her clothes because your personal experience and her reputation in the business is as being mean and not supportive of other women. As much as I love gossip and hearing how evil some people can be, maybe tell us who is surprisingly nice and warm and supportive. 

I know this is VERY predictable of me to say, but Maria Cornejo is an absolutely lovely person and everyone who works for her  adores her. As far as the others go, I had to text a fashion friend to ask her which designers have reputations as nice people, because, sadly, few sprang to mind. She mentioned some small designers, like Mona Kowalska, of A Detacher. I think Rachel Comey is supposed to be OK too. And Norma Kamali has always had a good rep.

How did you learn to invest and/or about other financial security tactics? My salary is nowhere near your former paycheck (teacher), but I know there’s more I could be doing to make myself more financially secure. I just never know where to start, and the internet feels like drinking from a fire hose.

When I had a big job that earned a nice salary, I opened a Fidelity account and a portion of my paycheck went directly to it every two weeks, and even now that I earn significantly less, I still put away a little bit whenever I get paid, even if it’s a tiny portion. And that is the best advice I can give: always be saving, even if the amount is small.

You get to partner with any designer you choose to create an 8 piece capsule collection of “Kim’s must haves”. Who do you partner with and what items are in the collection?

Sorry, but of course I would choose Maria Cornejo! It would be all tops and dresses, in a mix of solids and her excellent prints.

How do you manage writer’s block?

I just keep typing away until something good comes out.

What’s your advice re letting go of, selling or donating unwanted but good designer clothes? I’ve tried RealReal, but is there a way to digest getting pennies on the dollar with Zen acceptance?

I have achieved the state of Zen acceptance you speak of, and sell my old designer pieces on the Real Real. The items I don’t think are worth selling or aren’t designer, and are still in good shape, get donated to Housing Works.

What is your bedtime routine for a refreshing sleep? Yes, I want to know if you soak in the tub with Epsom salts while gazing at lit candles, if you use an ambient noise machine, if you like cotton PJs and what kind of mattress and pillow work for you. These things become more important at a certain age. And while we’re at it, do the dogs jump up on your bed in the night?

I don’t have a hard-and-fast sleep routine, though I’m happiest when I retire early—or, conversely, very late after a fun night out. I used to be a big bath person but am not so much anymore, and I sleep in an Emerson Fry caftan or old T-shirt. And sometimes the dogs jump in bed with me, depending on their mood and if I have company.

What item of clothing in your closet is the quintessential Kim?

Probably one of my white button-down shirts, because they’ve been a staple in my closet for longer than anything else.

I would love to hear your thoughts on ripped jeans! Not completely ripped to shreds but some forced distressing around the knees. Levi’s 501 and the Wedgie are often ripped. Can’t make up my mind if my 49.5 year old body is trying too hard to be hip and am slowly going crazy!

A couple of you asked this question, and generally speaking, my answer is that you’re not old enough to wear anything as long as it feels/looks good to you. But I do think distressed jeans are better left to the youth.

How many No.6 Clogs do you own? How many is too many for me to own??

Counting clogs, clog sandals, and clog boots, I own 10 pairs. So clearly, I believe that there is no such thing as too many.

 

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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Comments

37 Thoughts on Your questions, answered
    c.w.
    10 Jul 2018
    8:26am

    Thank you so much for this, Kim. It’s great fun to know you better and so generous of you to answer so many questions! I love how you have managed to create a life that works for you––it’s the most any of us can hope for in our own lives.

    And to the person who asked about finances…when I decided I’d better get off my hind-end and “do” something about my savings ect. I asked around for the names of financial advisors. I was given several names, set up appointments and interviewed them––because I figured I had that right since they would be working for me––and I ended up going with a woman who treated me like I had bazillions of dollars and deserved every bit of her attention even though I had no where near anything that amounted to much. Taking her advice and working with her over the years has been the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done. Highly recommend doing the work of finding someone you trust and like, even if it is for advice only with no investing involved. There are some GREAT women financial advisors out there.

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      Christina
      12 Jul 2018
      3:50pm

      Thank you! I’m the one with the financial question 🙂

      Any way you could share the name of the advisor/ firm you worked with? Most of my friends and family are ‘shoebox under the mattress’ type savers.

      And thank you, Kim! I appreciate the advice!

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    Natalie
    10 Jul 2018
    9:21am

    This was just as good a read as I hoped it would be.

    I have loved your work since Lucky days Kim, and while I’m not yet “at a certain age”, I absolutely adore this place.

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    Jennifer
    10 Jul 2018
    9:24am

    Really fun getting to “know” you a bit better and hearing your advice! I love the framed work behind you in the photo for this post. Would you mind sharing the artist’s name?

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    Adrien
    10 Jul 2018
    9:41am

    Thanks for answering all those questions! I’m really looking forward to reading your book this fall.

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    Erin
    10 Jul 2018
    10:00am

    I loved this. Excited to read your book! If you ever offered wardrobe consulting or a capsule collection, I’d sell my minivan to have it.

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    elise
    10 Jul 2018
    10:13am

    Great questions and great answers – so interesting and fun! thanks as always for sharing a glimpse into your life :). And totally agree with your dating deal breaker and one to add…must love animals!

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    Mimi
    10 Jul 2018
    10:15am

    Thanks for all the answers, Kim, and especially for the wonderful pic of you and the dogs. It illustrates one of my rules to live by: any pooch worth sharing your home with deserves to sit on the furniture when he wants to.

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    HickfromStyx
    10 Jul 2018
    10:31am

    Thank you,Kim.

    Sammy Schnoodle and Mister Mixed are livin’ the life, and with fabulous rapper names, too.

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    Kate
    10 Jul 2018
    10:34am

    Loved this, Kim! Thanks for sharing. As a private person, I know how hard that can be. I laughed out loud when I read your “meanies” answer because that is what I say!!! Just FYI- if I was trapped on a desert island and could only have one blog- it would be yours! Thanks for making everyday better.

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    EMM
    10 Jul 2018
    10:44am

    Reading this was so much fun! Thanks for sharing. And I adore that picture of you wearing cute glasses and surrounded by books and dogs.

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    HickfromStyx
    10 Jul 2018
    11:10am

    Dang! I forgot to ask if you swear a lot more now, at a certain age, in private. It’s a great hobby for relieving stress. Or maybe that’s just me.😎

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      KimFrance
      10 Jul 2018
      2:18pm

      I do tend to swear, despite my best efforts not to.

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        Mamavalveeta03
        11 Jul 2018
        2:00am

        The current administration has a lot to do with the upswing in my use of the f-bomb.

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    Mary Alice
    10 Jul 2018
    11:37am

    I learned a long time ago that if there’s someone whose work you admire (actor, writer, musician) it’s best to not get to know them too well – you’ll almost inevitably be disappointed. (I have lived in LA all my life).
    Thank you for being the wonderful exception to that rule! I loved your answers and I think you’re super cool. You make me proud to be a GOACA.

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    Mary
    10 Jul 2018
    12:05pm

    Thank you for answering my distressed jean question! I guess if I have to ask, I’m not comfortable.

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    y.k.
    10 Jul 2018
    1:32pm

    Thank you for this-

    It is my belief that life is actually quite long, and that there is plenty of time to get it right.

    I’m finding that intensely inspiring.

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      DeDe
      11 Jul 2018
      1:06pm

      Me too. We put way too much pressure on ourselves to Do It All Right Now and Do It Perfectly – this is such a good reminder that that’s a steaming hot load of BS.

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    Dana
    10 Jul 2018
    2:02pm

    Mister is adorbs!

    This was a great read, and it’s nice to hear your perspective on things. Reinforces a lot of things I have come to believe in my 48 years (except I don’t have the budget to live in NYC and afford Maria Cornejo clothes!).

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    Rebecca Stuart
    10 Jul 2018
    3:37pm

    Thanks for answering my question! So it’s the Beastie Boys. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me: a Tibetan colleague of mine met Adam Yauch years ago in Kathmandu at a Buddhist temple. She had no idea who he was at the time, but said that he was a truly lovely person.

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    Cherie
    10 Jul 2018
    3:54pm

    Best read of the summer. Thank you for being so real.

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    Kathi
    10 Jul 2018
    6:29pm

    A great read, thank you for sharing. Your pic with the dogs on the couch makes me think of how my cat is always by my side or on my book as I read, my iPad or desktop keyboard as I type. Really looking forward to your book!!

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    C
    10 Jul 2018
    10:26pm

    Another great post. Thank you!Thank you!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    11 Jul 2018
    1:52am

    Kim, you are just the BEST! I’d say you must qualify as one of the nicest people in the fashion industry. Your candor is appreciated as well as your down to earth-iness.

    I love the glimpse of the famous hot pink coffee table.

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    Donna Halloran
    11 Jul 2018
    7:11am

    Hi Kim,
    I’ve been reading GOACA for a few years now. How do I submit a question? ‘So embarrassed to admit that I’m stumped since “Contact” link is broken.
    Best,
    Donna

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      KimFrance
      11 Jul 2018
      9:23am

      I’m sorry the “Contact” link isn’t working for you—anyone else having this problem? Meanwhile, you can always ask me a question in the comments.

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    Lucy
    11 Jul 2018
    9:09am

    Loved this. Can’t wait for your book! Every post from you is such a plus to my day. Your story and what you do is so inspiring and fun. Thank you!!!!

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    kelly
    11 Jul 2018
    12:01pm

    SO thoughtful and entertaining! Thank you

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    DeDe
    11 Jul 2018
    1:03pm

    So late to the party here, but this was the best Q&A. It’s basically an ecapsulation of all the things I love about this blog: Honest, funny, smart, kind, considered. And that pic is just the adorable-est (Chic nerd classes! Books! Dogs! Art!).

    Thanks for making this such a fun and engaging place. I’m humbled by the shout-out – someday maybe I’ll be able to give you a big hug in person – but, you know, it starts with you. As someone else said awhile back (maybe C-dub?), you set the tone. And tw before I forget, so sorry about that mattress. 🤣😖

    (PS, there’s a seller on Etsy who makes DO NO HARM, BUT TAKE NO SHIT tee shirts, which I would like to nominate for Official Team GOACA Uniform: https://www.etsy.com/listing/566617566/do-no-harm-but-take-no-sht-unisex-tee-by)

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      Christina
      12 Jul 2018
      3:53pm

      Love that shirt!

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    DeDe
    11 Jul 2018
    8:32pm

    I wrote a longer comment earlier, but I musta done effed it up because I’m not seeing it now. Womp womp. But, one, you are the BEST, and two, thank you for creating a place that truly inspires loyalty from your readers. This whole post encapsulates the entire spirit of this blog: Honest, smart, funny, kind, considered, and just the right balance of serious and not-so-serious. Someday I hope to be able to thank you in person, but until then, let me offer that there’s an Esty seller who makes a tee that says DO NO HARM BUT TAKE NO SHIT, which I humbly nominate for the Official TEAM GOACA Uniform https://www.etsy.com/listing/566617566/do-no-harm-but-take-no-sht-unisex-tee-by Also, PS, so sorry about the mattress.

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      DeDe
      12 Jul 2018
      10:45am

      Aaaaaaaaaaaand now both comments are showing up. I don’t even know anymore.

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    joannawnyc
    11 Jul 2018
    9:17pm

    Adoring the glimpse BTS of your fab living room and cutie dogs, as well as that into your psyche!

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    Christina
    12 Jul 2018
    3:48pm

    Thank you! I’m the one with the financial question 🙂

    Any way you could share the name of the advisor/ firm you worked with? Most of my friends and family are ‘shoebox under the mattress’ type savers.

    And thank you, Kim! I appreciate the advice!

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    Francine
    12 Jul 2018
    7:30pm

    This was such a pleasure to read! I want more!

    I’m so curious to know if you read any fashion magazines (print)and what blogs you enjoy reading.

    I’ve asked before, but in all sincerity, would you consider a one-day GOACA conference??

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