Life Through Photography

Photography can a powerful medium. It can capture struggle, pain, and real-life journies.  Tony Fouhse is taking his journalistic talents to new and important depths. He is documenting a young woman’s life as a former heroin addict through photography and writing. Tony is successfully leveraging the power of the crowd to fund his project and related travels. What was the inspiration behind the photography project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? I had been collaborating with a small society of drug addicts that congregate on one corner of my hometown…..shooting portraits. I did this for four years (2007 to 2010). My intention with that project (titled: USER) was not to colonize, judge or change the subjects, just to acknowledge and respect their presence. Last year, when I was shooting on the corner, I met Stephanie and, like I say in the video, there was just something about her that compelled me to blurt out: “Is there something I can do to help you?” She said: “Yes.” and it all just started happening. This project is important to me for a couple of reasons. First, Stephanie and I have become good friends who have been through Hell together (she more than me), and that certainly creates a bond. Secondly, I believe that showing the human side of addicts is important. Too often they are seen (if they are seen at all) as sub-human non-entities. What Stephanie is willing to show the world, the face of her addiction and struggle, is something that needs to be seen. That’s quite a powerful story. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of photo journalism in Canada - how are your supporters responding? Well, so far, so good. I set a modest goal, one that would allow me to complete just one more aspect of this project (even though there will be many more aspects to come). In retrospect, I probably should have asked for more, to enable me to support and move Live Through This forward in more ways. For instance, there is  the dedicated website that is in the works for Live Through This, and that costs money, plus it would be good to be able to make the trip to the coast, to keep shooting, more than the one time I’m trying to finance through RocketHub. I’m not too sure about asking again, later on, for more money from my supporters. There is such a thing as donor-fatigue. I suppose I’m sort of hoping that I will surpass my goal by a fair amount so I can have some funds in hand to really round this project out. (And I hope I didn’t just jinx this whole thing by saying that right out loud.) Your honesty seems to be very well received by your fans. I believe that running a second-leg of this project on RocketHub is very much do-able. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? One thing I didn’t mention in my RocketHub appeal is that I have been blogging on a weekly basis about this project since November 2010. There were many twists and turns, ups and downs during that time and my blogs’ audience really felt a connection to Stephanie and what she was going through. I suppose that that feeling of connection is a great help. As well, I sent out 7 or 8 personal letters of appeal the day I launched. But, in the end, I believe that it is the fact that this was a known project that people had been following and were already emotionally invested in that really helped. So far I know everyone who has contributed. What will make me even more excited about this process is if I begin to get to get donations from those who I don’t know, people who have just bumped into LiveThrough This on RocketHub and believe the project is worthy of support. This is a meaninful and important project. Thank you Tony for bringing it to RocketHub. Support Tony, here. And check out more of his incredible work (where these pictures comes from), here. -Vlad

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  • May 23, 2011

Making the Urban Musical

Charles Bernard Murray 4th  (a.k.a. CB) is leading the crowdfunding campaign to bring a new urban musical, “Children of God,” to the Midtown International Theatre Festival. CB is a talented guy who has overcome much in his life and is now a successful performer, and so much more. I had the pleasure of speaking with CB about his life and his current journey: What was the inspiration behind the theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? I was the classic bad kid. No father, doing drugs and completely out of control. There were people who thought I was a hopeless cause. One of the teachers in my neighborhood took an interest in me and his consistent mentorship helped me find my way. I found my way onto the Broadway stage and a few years later began running programs for teens and at risk youth. I love theater but I also have a story to tell. This is a musical of hope for any child who feels helpless and lost but it is also an inspiration for adults to become more involved in the lives of children everywhere. That’s quite a journey to where you are now. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of inspirational entertainment - how are your supporters responding? I must confess I’m amazed at the people who are responding. Our greatest supporters have been people I barely know. Strangers who read our synopsis and hear our music have been sending notes of encouragement, promising to donate and asking what other ways they can come aboard to help. Along with raising capital I’ve found RocketHub to also be an awesome tool for raising awareness. We have a whole new buzz thanks to internet crowdfunding. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Don’t be shy! Persistence is absolutely necessary. You must ask over and over and over again. Remind your friends and family. Enlist as many people as possible to also ask their family and friends. Be diligent in posting on line, sending emails and talking up your project. You are your own best promoter. Thank you CB for these smart words. Book your tickets for this show, here. -Vlad

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  • May 20, 2011

Texas Treat: Delicious Delights from Audrey Schwartz

I have a soft spot for tasty crowdfunding projects. And Audrey Schwartz has delivered one of the most enticing projects I’ve ever seen. Audrey bakes beautiful treats and is engaging her friends and fans to support her growing bakery in Texas. Here’s what she has to say about her culinary adventure: What was the inspiration behind the food-making project you are currently running on RocketHub? The inspiration behind my project on RocketHub is both literal and figurative. My grandmother, Nola Jacobs, is the name behind the business and my product. Her gift to me was to always remember to stay strong in the face of adversity and to build everything you do with a foundation of love. And of course spending time in the kitchen with her was pretty amazing too. She was one of those culinary geniuses that never had a recipe for anything written down; it was all in her head! When I would ask her for measurements her standard answer would be “Oh just a handful of (insert ingredient), a couple of pinches of this or that….even for recipes calling for exact measurements and everything she cooked or baked came out perfect. While attending culinary school it was always in the back of my head that one day I would open a business of my own but how that was going to happen was an unknown. A lot of time was spent thinking about product, talking to my friends and family about my dream, writing all of my ideas down and basically laying the foundation for what has become a reality. One of those old school composition books became my “If you can dream it, you can LIVE it” journal for “Sweet Nola J’s” and served as the  springboard to become part of the culinary landscape in Dallas, Texas. It took being fired from my last job February of this year (non-culinary related by the way) for me to realize that the time was now to move forward with my dream to open my business. It really was a matter of sink or swim, so I took a leap of faith to follow my PASSION and do what I feel is my true calling; to make people happy through my baking. And I couldn’t be happier! Great inspiration - we can see Nola’s passion in your work and campaign. Why is it important to you? It is important to me on many levels but the one that jumps out in front is female empowerment. It is for women to always remember to believe in themselves no matter what anyone else tells them, to stay strong, and to overcome whatever hurdles lay in front of them. It is about creating our own reality, living our dreams, waving our own banner, and shouting out to the world “I AM”. On a more personal note, I am proving to myself that my mantra is more than just talking about my goals, its about LIVING them! Eventually through this journey it will make me able to foster young chefs in my own kitchen and teach them our craft. Passing on the joy of baking and proper technique through a nurturing environment is very important to me. Rock on! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of desserts and business - how are your supporters responding? My experience on RocketHub has been amazing so far! As for being called a pioneer that feels a little like being called a genius (it makes me a little nervous) but someone has to be the first, right? Given this is a fairly new way to grow a business RocketHub it is an opportunity like no other. I will liken it to when “Google” and “Facebook” arrived on the scene; those who got in on the ground floor were poineers and those entities are huge now. Hopefully when this project is a huge success (fingers crossed) and RocketHub has become another “Google” some young chef will look at “Sweet Nola J’s” and say to themselves that they can be just as successful. My supporters have been their usual, fantastic selves encouraging me to “Go for it” and cheering me every step of the way. In every ones life we are blessed with a group of people who just love us no matter what and I’m no different. I sometimes have to pinch myself because I’m living the dream and have a wonderful group of people to network with, bounce ideas off and to love unconditionally. Attached are a few comments from some of my most loyal fans: Elizabeth P: Every time I see an ad for your company mama, I want cake!!!! Craig B: Just watched the video! Awesome job Audrey! You looked gorgeous, and the cookies and cupcakes looked scrumptious. Way to go! XOXO Maggie W: Congrats Audrey!!! Much success to you… which won’t be needed once your happy customers get your delicious goodies in their pie-holes… it will be repeat business for sure! Gary M: OMG!!!!!!!!! Let me know when you will be shipping across the country! Maria L: Good luck girl! I had no idea you were so talented; you are my new idol. Jay Z: The website looks great!!! Is anyone else hungry for cookies or cupcake? You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? A: It is important to read everything on the RocketHub site to fully understand how it works. Read everything and be prepared beforehand; it will really work in your favor if you do! Fortunately for me, my business advisor has been my sounding board and mentor and she turned me on to RocketHub. She knew someone who had HUGE success through crowdfunding and suggested your site. RockeHub was on the radar as one of the major components of ‘Sweet Nola J’s” to do list and we are impressed by how well the sire works. Also, I would suggest to anyone looking to crowdfund a similar project to find someone who is impartial to lend as a business advisor. Someone who has had successes in their business career an act as a mentor is an invaluable tool. If that isn’t an option, get yourself organized and have a plan in place. Set daily goals as well as weekly goals to help keep yourself on track. Research local businesses that are doing what you want to do and you know it you will well on your way. And most importantly………BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Wow! Your energy is contagious and your treats look awesome. Grab a bite of this project, here. -Vlad

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  • May 19, 2011

Crowdfunding Memories in Minnesota - Journals for All

P.J. Fanberg is on a mission to provide 111 journals for his squad of choirboys. As the Executive Director of the Land of Lakes Choirboys, he is dedicated to utilizing crowdfunding as a way to preserve the memories of those who experience the journey of musical travel. I spoke with P.J. about his mission: What was the inspiration behind the pro-social journalism project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration behind our project was actually an idea that came from my experiences as a Choirboy. I came from a low-income family, where money for extra things like journals for writing was a low priority. Subsequently, I managed to have just cheap notebooks to take on our concert tours, which generally lasted around 3-4 weeks. After a few days of traveling, the covers usually were torn-off and my journal was mostly in ruins by the end of the tour. Over the years, most of those writings are gone and lost to time. I wanted to make sure the boys that are going on these tours today have a keepsake of their experiences that will last them a life time. These boys range from ages 7-15 and travel extensively throughout the United States and the World. The experiences they gain, at such a young age, are invaluable to their growth as productive, responsible members of society. With many lower income boys in our program, this felt like an ideal project to try on  Great inspiration! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of public support in Minnesota - how are your supporters responding? My supporters are in love with the format and ease of Minnesota is usually atop every single list when it comes to philanthropic giving, so it comes as no surprise that our supports have connected with this project so easily. To be able to find a new and exciting way to give in this state is a great promotional tool to use in our area. Additionally, finding funding for specific projects, like our journals, has been much easier than raising funds for general operating costs. People love knowing exactly what their donations are funding, especially when it’s a great project. I plan to promote other projects on in the near future. Thank you for being a RocketHub supporter. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Sell your idea with enthusiasm and fun. If you aren’t excited about your idea, your potential fuelers will not be either. That goes for financial contributions as well. If they look and see that you don’t even believe in your project enough to support it yourself, then they are going to be hard-pressed to put their hard-earned resources into it. Facebook was a great asset for us to use to promote this idea. Within minutes of posting in on our site, we had three fuelers. I was barely done with the registration of the product before it was making us money! For those looking to launch their own project, think of the networks of people you already have in place that can help your project succeed. For us, it was the friends and families of the Choirboys. My next step is to gain the support of our alumnus who went through our program in the past. Have a plan before you launch to help build momentum fast. Nothing worse than days going by without your project taking-flight. At this point, you have pretty much missed your launch window and will have a much more difficult time fueling your project. Very good advice - useful for all types of project. Thank you P.J. for your innovative approach and heartwarming project. Support this crew, here. -Vlad

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  • May 17, 2011

Emily Zuzik Discusses Moby Collaboration - In Prep for Takeoff Tuesday at Spike Hill

Emily Zuzik is a prolific singer/songwriter, rocker and sought-after collaborator. She has the ability to effortless shift fluidly from acoustic folk to electronica and alternative rock and will be featured on Moby’s new album “Destroyed,” which is set to release May 17, 2011.  From Moby: “Emily’s vocals brought a unique dark and melodic texture to The Low Hum.  I’ve wanted to work with her ever since she auditioned for a rock project I started. She has remarkable talent and passion for all kinds of music. I’m excited to hear her new record.” We caught up with Emily as she is about to participate in RocketHub’s Takeoff Tuesday - a weekly music series designed to entertain and support musical artists through networking, workshops and career enhancing showcases. She will talk about the Moby collaboration as well as other trends and adventures in the current music business landscape. The event takes place at Spike Hill in Williamsburg - May 17th at 7PM. The same date that the record is released. 1. How did the song collaboration with Moby, “The Low Hum,” come about? - We’ve heard you use the theme of a late night in an “empty city” in the lyrics of the tune. I met him initially when I auditioned to sing for a rock project he was working on. It never ended up seeing the light of day. Later on, he asked me to sing on a song for his next record. I don’t know if that song ever made the cut either, but then we decided to write together. He gave me a bunch of instrumental compositions and asked me to write to ones that struck me. His only request was to steer clear of strict narrative and make the lyrics more introspective and vague. We did a bunch of demos and one of our collaborations was “The Low Hum” which he put on his next record, Destroyed. The late night in an empty city theme really came from what the song called for. I had just moved into an apartment in Murray Hill and I went over to the place one night on my own. I hadn’t move in any furniture yet. I’d hung a strand of Christmas lights on the window and sat in the middle of the living room floor. Then I was quiet and listened. The song happened that way. I described the scene and what I heard and how I felt in that moment. It wasn’t until later that Moby revealed that empty cities at night were a theme of his book and record. Kind of serendipitous that way… 2.  It is our understanding that the album will be released along with a photo book displaying a collection of photography Moby has shot over the years. Was “Low Hum” written with this idea of a “cross platform” distribution combining music and photgraphy? No, I had no idea there was a book coming out until much later. I was surprised and excited by the news though. I shoot photography too, especially when I travel or am on the road. I also really like the pairing of sound and vision, as Bowie coined it. So, any opportunity I can be part of a “cross platform” project, I try to sign up for it. 3. What other projects do you have upcoming for the year that excite you the most? Well, you kind of caught me in a maelstrom these days. Beyond the Moby song, I have some shows on both coasts (May 13 SF’s Makeout Room, May 17 Rockethub’s Featured Performer at Spike Hill, June 6 NY SongCircle Showcase at Bitter End).  I sang the theme song to the new NBC show “Love Bites” which is scheduled to debut on Thursday, June 2 at 10 PM. It was another collaborative project with Art Hays.  I am releasing my new album, The Wild Joys of Living, (which has 3 cowrites on it, 2 with Wes Hutchinson and one with Tom Glynn) at a CD RELEASE Party on Sat. June 25th at The Living Room at 11 PM. That cd release show will also be recorded live for XM Radio’s “From the Living Room to the Loft” program.  I’m working with UK dj team REFIX on another single and trying to keep all this going without losing my happiness or sanity. So far, so good… Much thanks for taking the time to connect with us and for sharing these insights. We are excited to hear more at Takeoff Tuesday tomorrow! Moby photo by Sunny Khasla Emily photos courtesy

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  • May 16, 2011

Supporting an Online Community through Crowdfunding

Jon Nicol is devoted to making intro a great website, a hub of knowledge and activity. He is utilizing RocketHub and the power of crowdfunding in order to keep most of the content free - a noble endeavor that I had the pleasure of discussing with Jon: What was the inspiration behind the design and development project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? is resource for church music teams. Most of my work is with smaller churches whose budgets don’t allow big conferences and expensive resources. I keep most of my content free and my workshops affordable. The poor design of the site hinders the use of the content and resources, so I’m hoping to raise money to professionally redesign the site. Very worth cause. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of pro-social development - how are your supporters responding? The first 10% came in quickly, but it slowed down. My follower base is not huge, so I will likely be dependent on a few bigger contributions to carry the project forward.  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? This isn’t a “build it and they will come” field of dreams thing. It takes work to get the project out there. Most people will need to see it a few times before they decide to give. And many need a direct request: “will you contribute?” And from the ones that contribute, I ask them to tell a few others about it. Once someone helps you once in one way, they’re more likely to help you again, especially in a non-financial way. Very relevant advice. Thank you Jon - support this project here. -Vlad

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  • May 13, 2011

Vinyl Is Here to Stay: The Doorbells Crowfund a New Record

"Want Your Evil" is the debut that starts it all, and The Doorbells invites you to be a part of it. We love this band at RocketHub and wanted to learn more about their unique vinyl-making crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration behind this project was to create a way for fans, friends, and family to feel as if they all have a hand in the 1st release of us. They already are the reason that we can put together a project like this but it furthers their staple as part of the group. We also are doing this for the fact that vinyl is still the best way to listen to music and to receive a timeless piece of art as well. This is important to us because we want involvement from everyone who supports us and this gives them the chance to. Great way to build fan engagement. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music, particularly from the Midwest - how are your supporters responding? The experience has been great. It’s a great way for artists to share their passion with the people who support it in a more connected fashion other than just the music. Our supporters are responding with mixed reviews but mostly good. It’s been a slow start but momentum is picking up fast the more people become aware of the project. Keep up the momentum. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The only advice I could give would be to just talk about the project as much as possible and let them know what it is really about. Promote the hell out of it. Good advice. Great music. Listen and join the ride, here. -Vlad

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  • May 13, 2011

Hit Us With Your Best Shot: The Artsicle Photography Show

RocketHub and Artsicle will open the doors to the New York City art scene for emerging photographers through the Artsicle Photography Show in the summer of 2011. This show will give photographers very scarce and sought-after resources: creative real estate, promotion, and connections in the art capital of the world. This is our second LaunchPad Opportunity™ and it offers a chance to show your photographs at a cool Chelsea gallery. Five chosen photographers will receive: An exclusive spot in a photography exhibit, including an opening-night gala celebration. The option to sell at the gallery and to distribute work through Artsicle’s curated marketplace. Portfolio feedback from art industry notables throughout the week. Top-notch photographers have already jumped in, so hit us with your best shot. We’re proud to offer opportunities beyond funding to our awesome community of creative people. You can expect more LaunchPad opportunities in other sectors such as film, gaming, music and design. So stay tuned. -The RocketHub Team

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  • May 11, 2011

From Baltimore, A Cool New Sound from a Family Band

Five Smooth Stones is a family band from northern Baltimore County, Maryland (aka The Hereford Zone).  Andrew, Colvin and Tom Franklin and Kathryn Clarke blend diverse musical influences, such as Jars of Clay, newsboys, Switchfoot, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Mute Math, Dave Matthews Band, David Crowder Band and more. I had the pleasure of chatting with Tom, aka Fu Manchuman, of Five Smooth Stones about their very successful crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The band, Five Smooth Stones, is a great blessing in my life- it is comprised of myself (real name Tom) on guitar & vocals, my daughter Kathryn on guitar & vocals, my son Andrew on drums & vocals and my nephew Colvin on bass and vocals. The band, formed several years ago, has been performing regionally and created a CD project in 2009 called Life From Dust. Over the next couple years, we were writing more personal songs and the music we were making developed and matured, and so it came time to get to recording a new project. We determined that we have an opportunity to create a top-notch album musically, and we want to match the packaging to that. So, after spending time in a cabin in Pennsylvania recording the basic tracks, we contacted a great designer to begin work on the packaging. We also researched the costs and options for producing the packaging, as well as put together a plan to market/promote the project. At that point we saw that we could make a really nice package for the fans with a little more cash- we had some funds earmarked for the project which had been accumulated from CD & t-shirt sales and gigging income- and we had heard about crowd-funding from several sources, so we checked out several sites. We chose RocketHub based on several factors, the most important being the feeling that RH was really focused on helping the artists and providing added opportunities for us. We have built a small base of loyal fans and we want to give them a great album to listen to, look at and enjoy. The songs are about the struggles of this life and the hope we have for better days, both now and in eternity, and we have a strong desire to share the message of hope with as many as we can. We love family bands from Baltimore :) How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your supporters responding? It’s been fun and challenging. The process of setting up the RocketHub project was simple, making the video was fun as well as deciding on the rewards for our fuelers. Our friends & fans have been very receptive and we are thankful for their support. It has been a great, added opportunity to connect with them and has opened some additional doors for the band as well. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Have a plan for getting the word out and make sure you tell everyone. Our biggest contribution came from an unexpected source, and if we hadn’t spread the word around we might end up short. Also, don’t be afraid to remind people and follow-up… people mean well and want to help, but this is a fast-paced world and they get distracted or it slips their mind. In fact, I’m need to call some folks right now… Thank you Five Smooth Stones for your refreshing sound and rockin’ campaign. You can still join the fun, here. -Vlad

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  • May 10, 2011

Rufus Khan: Not Just Another Improv Troupe

Rufus Khan is an innovative improv comedy troupe based in Brooklyn, New York. They keep the audience laughing with bizarre scenarios, memorable characters, and, of course, the occasional one-liner. The Rufus Khan team consists of Brendan Collins, Daniel Klein, Cem Uyanik, Jamie Rosler, Eric Austin, and Laura Darrell. They are leveraging the power of crowdfunding in order to fund future shows and development. We spoke with them about their campaign and about their creative process: What was the inspiration behind the improv theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? First and foremost, laughter. Our deep desire to laugh and to make others laugh by playfully humiliating ourselves in front of a bunch of strangers. Some people call it unhealthy; we call it fun. We’ve also been influenced by subway panhandlers. Clearly, begging is funny, and gives you a great opportunity to perfect your sign writing skills. Living and working in New York City can drain you of your energy, your time, and your money, as well as making you wonder if all people are just innately awful. We hope that a RocketHub campaign will restore our faith and confidence in the general goodness of humanity, and also help provide us with more opportunities to challenge ourselves, inspire our friends and fans, and supply that much needed escape for anyone who’s just looking to have some good, usually clean, fun. Awesome! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of improv theatre - how are your supporters responding? Our experience has been great, especially when we can get people’s attention. They all think they’re so important and busy with their lives and jobs and children.  After our most recent show, we received literally tons of positive feedback; our backs are just now getting over the aches and pains of carrying it all. People asked about our next performance, having videos made for people who missed the show, and just generally stroked our fragile egos. Monetary donations are always a harder animal to catch, especially in the midst of an economic downturn. We’ve made big strides, though, and are steadily making our way to the goal we set. You’ve caught our attention :) You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Nagging and stalking have been our main routes to success. Pretend to be interested in other people’s lives, and don’t be afraid to hide in someone’s bushes or linen closet. Think of all the internet and social media attack strategies at your disposal and just go for it. Be playful, witty, and fun when seeking support so that you’re always bringing people entertainment. Even crack dealers know that the first hit should always be free. After that, don’t be afraid to prod; if you don’t seek out donations, no one’s going to do it for you. Most importantly, have confidence that you deserve what you’re asking for, and that if it’s what you really want, you can make it happen. For us, it comes down to honesty, heart, and that slightly offensive joke about nuns that you overheard in the elevator last week. Thank you Rufus Khan team for your funny work and refreshing campaign. Check them out here. -Vlad

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  • May 9, 2011