Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About Backbone Fest and Probably Some Stuff You Didn't Need to Know


To say the birds are feeling a little excited would be an understatement - we're feeling downright jazzed. Backbone Fest, a two-day music and culture festival highlighting talented and creative women across the Southeast will take place on November 1 & 2, 2013 at the Highland Ballroom in Atlanta. Basically, two days of insanely awesome ladies giving Atlanta the gift of their talent. BE STILL OUR/YOUR/EVERYONES HEART. Get tickets here: http://bit.ly/1bc8Hvp....but keep reading, friend. Keep reading.

The idea behind Backbone came straight from the noggins of BOFC. We work with women who amaze us everyday. Some are our mentors, others are our friends, but each of them help to keep us inspired and our city unique. Backbone Fest is a small way for us to say, "Hey girl. You totally rock." With the help of our incredible sponsors (we're lookin' at you Mailchimp and Cathead Vodka), we are able to make Backbone a reality.

Day One - Friday, November 1st

Consider day one a giant pep rally for awesome women everywhere. DJ Taradactyl will be providing us with sweet tunes, Minette Magnifique will be dancing their way straight into your heart, while Ashley Hesseltine and Lace Larrabee keep the funnies coming.

Caroline Cox of CommonCreativ will be doing an extra special reading, Nicole Rateau of Burn Unit will be break dancing (whaaaaaaa), and Lady Flashback will be snapping your photo. Delicious eats from Doggy Dogg and Good Food Truck as well.



Day Two - Saturday, November 2nd

This line-up is killer. We're repping the best in Atlanta lady-fronted rock, (Sioux City Sue, Sex BBQ, and Lily & The Tigers, anyone??) as well as bringing a special duo from Charleston into the mix, Megan Jean and the KFB.

We'll also be boasting a photobooth from Lady Flashback, the Good Food Truck, and the #WeLoveAtl Truck will be hanging out to show off the best in Atlanta photography!


So, now that you've made it all the way through you are probably just as pumped as we are about Backbone Fest. Grab your best girls AND guys because we want everyone there. Thanks for being awesome, Atlanta. We can't wait to see you there!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Attention all Atlanta fashionistas!
Do you think you are have a the special talent of styling? Do you work in the retail industry, or just like to dress yourself up and give friends fashion advice for fun?

We have a competition for you! This year's Salvage hosted by the Indie Craft Experience will feature: 

The Great Salvage Vintage 
Style Competition 

Where participants will show off their best vintage styling abilities! Its only $5 to enter as a competitor and the winner takes home a grand prize of $100!
The only rules are, you have to use vintage garments (20 years older or more). Participants will use their creative fashion skills to stylize a blank dress form at the Salvage event on September 14th.

To simplify:
Blank Dress Form + You + Vintage Garments + Mad Fashion Skillz @Salvage = $100


So get on it! Here's where you can APPLY! Hurry, submissions are due by September 1st! 







xo

Mel

Thursday, July 11, 2013

SALVAGE!

Its that time of the year again! That's right, Salvage time! The twice a year event organized by the Indie Craft Experience will take place on September 14th at the Ambient + Studio. As you may know, Salvage is a vintage modern marketplace where you can find some of the coolest vintage items in the Southeast.




Salvage is currently rounding up the vendors for this fall's event. If you or someone you know are interested in selling their vintage wares the application to vend can be found on the website here.

This is a great event so don't miss out! Whether you are a vendor, shopper, or lover of anything vintage, you need to be at Salvage on September 14th!

See you there!

xo

Mel

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fallen Arrows Showroom Launch -This Thursday Night!

Our friends over at Fallen Arrows are excited to announce the launch of their Showroom! I will be there getting the scoop and checking out the wares on the Showroom's opening night!

Atlanta doesn't really have a wholesale scene for boutique owners or shop buyers besides the giant Apparel Mart downtown. Fallen Arrows is quick to recognize this void and bring Atlanta a cool place to shop wholesale. 
 

Fallen Arrows announces the opening of their showroom space, providing boutique owners and buyers with the best in local wares. The showroom will be open to the public during a launch event on June 27, 2013 at their Inman Park location at 840 Dekalb Ave, 30307 from 6-10PM.


Make sure you come out to this event, grab some free drinks, and see what awesome-ness Fallen Arrows has been up to!


Catch ya then!

Mel
Cdeom
Come 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Knitting Factory-Not Your Grandmother's Knitting

If you've been to Brooklyn and you are into the music scene, you've probably heard of, or been to The Knitting Factory. Located off Metropolitan Ave in the heart of Brooklyn, The Knitting Factory is the place to go for cool yet underground shows in New York.

When I was interning in Manhattan several summers ago, I got a chance to go to a show at the Knitting Factory. The show was on a hot July night, 60's influenced garage bands, No Bunny, and The Strange Boys played. The venue was packed and was the place to be that night in Brooklyn. There was a huge crowd congregated outside, and then when the music was about to start, we all squeezed into the small hallway that led to the stage and bar. The crowd went wild for both bands, people were stage diving and crowd surfing, the New York modern garage punk scene was at its best. After the show, I was sweaty and gross, I had beer poured on me but it was cool. The show made me feel alive. My ears were ringing for days after.



What started as a venue in 1987, (the year I was born ha!), The Knitting Factory, has transformed to all things that correlate with shows and live music. Now, the transformed textiles factory is its own entertainment company, complete with a record company, music management business, and tour coordinators. The Knitting Factory Started in Brooklyn but has grown to fulfill the position of the cool go-to venue in other cities like Boise, Reno and Spokane. Along with these other crossover ventures, the Knitting Factory has its own apparel line called "The Knit Collection" which is comprised of all sorts of clothing items printed with music inspired designs.

Fun fact: local Atlanta printing powerhouse Fallen Arrows has partnered with The Knitting Factory Entertainment to print exclusive licensed music apparel. Fallen Arrows be the printshop that prints and sells The Knitting Factory's licensed music related t-shirts, handbags, hats and other apparel. The Knit Collection + Fallen Arrows is premiering this month! Check out a sneak peak of some of the designs below:


Keep on rockin' in the free world,

Mel

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Cooler Than Bein' Cool? ICE!

So what if I just tried to quote an Outkast song, you love it. You love it because I'm talking about ICE. Not the kind you put in your bubble tea, but Indie Craft Experience-that's whats cooler than being cool!

Summer ICE is this weekend guys. Its supposed to get up to 87 degrees this weekend, so you know you're gonna want to cool down with some ICE-that is Summer ICE at Ambient Plus Studios on Saturday and Sunday. You can find some awesome duds to prance around town in this summer, from jewelry to fashions, soap to candles, pillows to aprons, there is something for everyone at Summer ICE.
It really is cooler than being cool.


Its no lie that Atlanta's own Indie Craft Experience has been making headway in the D.I.Y. craft scene for years. With their Holiday ICE, Salvage, and Wedding Day Hooray, the ladies behind ICE know what they are doing. They are regarded as the most renowned craft marketplace in the Southeast, and obviously for the right reasons.

One of my favorite vendors around town will be there, Yo Soy Candles. You can smell the amazing scents like sweet orange chili, a personal favorite of mine that has been burning in my apartment for months now.

 
Be sure to stop by the Yo Soy booth at Summer ICE and grab a scented soy candle before I buy all of them.


Thanks everyone for listening to my rant about Outkast, bubble tea and candles. Be sure to come out to Summer ICE this weekend. 

Stay cool, 

Mel




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Persephone's Fall: Freakin' Awesome.

I've danced for most of my life - and I'm not just talking about getting down by myself in my bedroom. I began taking lessons at about 5 and learned about ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop and whole slew of other styles that all expressed different emotions through movement. I carried my love of dance throughout my life and into college where I performed classic dances such as The Wobble, Cupid Shuffle and the occasional Twerk off on the sidelines of the Georgia State basketball court.


Luckily for me, there are people in this great city of ours who appreciate this fine art form beyond dancing at BBQs and still carry the torch that I've left behind. Persephone's Fall, a theatrical dance experience inspired by traditional mythology, is an incredible performance presented by Rule of 3 Productions. Persephone's Fall is a tale of a girl and her transformative personal journey through the Underworld accompanied by haunting music composed by Atlanta-based band, The Ghosts Project.


Persephone's Fall will be at 7 Stages Theatre this weekend, you guys. If you're into awesome costumes, sweet aeriel tricks and incredible dancing all while listening to a local band perform a custom composition, then you really need to check this thing out.

Scoutmob is even offering a little dealio. You can snatch the remaining discounted tickets here:

Thursday, May 30
Friday, May 31
Saturday, June 1

See you dancing machines this weekend!

Jessi


Monday, May 20, 2013

The Streets Came Alive!

As you may have heard, Atlanta Streets Alive was yesterday (Sunday, May 19th) and was held on Atlanta's busiest thoroughfare, Peachtree Street. The event which is put on by The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is a celebration of human powered amusement, and the end result of a lot of hard work from them, us, and all the other organizers. We were excited to be a part of this year's festival and we had a ton of fun throughout the day!

No one was sure how the weather was going to hold up, as lately Atlanta weekends have been doin' us festival going people dirty; rain, winds, thunder, lightening and all that bad stuff. Fortunately, the rain held out until the very end of the event, making the main chunk of it a good time for all!

All of the Birds of a Feather girls were excited for Peachtree Street to close, and the second it did, we set up our tent on Peachtree and Ponce and (literally) took flight! At the interactive Birds of a Feather tent you could personalize your own feather and adhere it to the BOF bird poster which was hanging in our tent! Check it out here:
Obviously we know who had the best feather (Your girl Atl Mel with the tail featha'), although the person who colored a feather that read "Slayer Rules" was a close second!

We were stationed next to some of the other sponsors of the event like Yelp, REI, and Whole Foods so we kicked it with our neighbors and watched the bicycling happy people go by. At one point, city councilman Kwanza Hall stopped by to say hello, as he paraded down Peachtree with a bicycling giant bird in tow:
There are some great shirts goin' on in this picture!

Being stationed on Peachtree Street was surreal. It was a different Peachtree Street than we are all so used to; there were no cars, no traffic, no exhaust fumes, no honking, and no stop-and-go traffic. We were right in front of the historic Fox Theater, and there were people walking, roller blading, bicycling, skateboarding and zooming by the Birds of a Feather tent all day long!

We were so excited to be apart of this amazing event and can't wait to see what next year's Atlanta Streets Alive will bring! Big thanks to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition with the help of Mayor Kasim Reed and all of the other awesome sponsors!



Until next time!

xo
your girl,
ATL MEL


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring is the Season of Birds....and Festivals!

Hey y'all,

I hope you aren't covered in pollen and are enjoying your spring thus far, I know we are!
Spring is a unique time of year because its when everyone comes out of hibernation and attends spring festivals. There are some great spring festivals going on in Atlanta this season, and going into the summer. Here are some that you can catch us at!

The Voices & Vibes festival is this weekend at the Woodruff Arts Center. We have been working hard for ArtsVibe in promotion and planning of this teen arts festival. I am personally excited to see Def Jam's Artistic Director, Cey Adams, help the teens create a graffiti mural on Saturday at 2:00p.m.

For more info on the Voice & Vibes festival, "Like" ArtsVibe on Facebook


Another spring festival that is going down is the 10th annual Brownwood Bike Festival in East Atlanta on May 4th, this event will have some great child-friendly interactive bicycle themed events like helmet decoration, and "crit-crots" races. Hope to see you EAV'ers there!

Probably the most epic event of the season though is this year's Atlanta Streets Alive, produced by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. This year the festival geared towards the celebration of all things human-powered will take over Peachtree Street on May 19th. We've been working hard for Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and are beyond excited to bring Atlanta some of the spectacular activities that we all have planned for you.


Check out the Atlanta Streets Alive website Here for more info about this amazing event!



Hope to see you around town this spring at the festivals!
Till then,
xo
Mel



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mason Jar Design Competition!

Calling all artists, designers, creators, makers and dabblers! The Salvage Mason Jar Design Competition is now accepting applications! Create ANYTHING your heart desires out of a mason jar and then watch the judging fun at Salvage at Ambient + Studio on April 13.

Enter here: http://salvageatl.com/mason-jar-competition






WHAT: Mason Jar Design Competition

WHERE: Salvage Vintage Marketplace

WHEN: April 13, 2013 at Ambient Plus Studio

WHAT: The South is no stranger to the iconic Mason Jar but during Salvage, the Indie Craft Experience’s modern vintage marketplace on April 13, 2013 at Ambient Plus Studio, the container will be transformed into something more than just a vessel for jellies and jams. Salvage’s Mason Jar Competition will be a major feature of the event among some of the most incredible vintage vendors in the country.  The competition is open to everyone and the only requirement is that your creation must include a mason jar! Enter to compete at SalvageATL.com

The competition will be judged by Beth Malone of Dashboard Co-Op, Susannah Darrow of Burnaway, and Stuart Shapiro of Binders Art Supply will judge the competition.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

HBIC Volume 4: Lauren Janis

How the Mama Behind Big Daddy Biscuits Keeps Her Business
 All In The (Doggie) Family

Big Daddy Biscuits founder Lauren Janis is the kind of woman you feel like you’ve known your whole life after meeting her just once. Her love for her incredible dog, Big Daddy, has spawned a staple business in the Atlanta pet market providing delicious and healthy treats to pups across the city. Read on to find out the mission behind BDB, why Lauren got started, and where you can find the Mama of Big Daddy this market season.



How did you get started with Big Daddy Biscuits? 

After some life changing events my niece and nephew and I were having a pow wow and I asked them what I should do next.  After throwing some ideas around, they suggested that I make dog biscuits.  Then it was time to think of a name.  Big Daddy was the most obvious because of my bad ass dog.  The next day I went and purchased a mixer and started doing some R&D....and POW...Big Daddy Biscuits was born.
Founder Lauren Janis
Why do you do it?

If I am going to eat healthy...the dogs should to.  Knowing that I am giving the dogs a healthy amazing treat.  I enjoy creating and sharing the goodness of what we are doing.  

How do you stay inspired?  


Knowing that I making a good quality dog biscuits using ingredients that are from local Georgia farmers and seeing how much the dogs just love them.  With all the recalls going on with dog food and treats being manufactured in China, I know that I have a healthy amazing biscuit that your dog will roll over, fetch your slippers and keep begging for more.  Knowing the dogs that we see weekly at the markets know where our table is and pull their parents to us.  That alone keeps us going. 
!!!
What advice do you have women in your industry?
I am honored that the majority of the people in the pet industry that are part of my world are the most amazing ever. From owning pet stores like Park Pet Supply and The Whole Dog Market to having rescue groups like the Atlanta Underdog Initiative, Animal Action Rescue, Atlanta Bully Rescue, or ones that do outreach like Pitties in the City to help dogs in need.  I am honored to be part of these amazing women.  If you enjoy working with animals there are so many wonderful organizations that you can volunteer with to make a difference in this world. 

Desert island - what 3 things are you bringing? 


Big Daddy ...Never leave home without him,  Makers Mark for those sunsets and my Johnny Cash collection.

Top Atlanta finds/favorite places? 

The EARL in East Atlanta....It is my Cheers, getting my fuel on for the day is HomeGrown and enjoying walking Big Daddy on the Atlanta BeltLine.
All Natural & Organic doggie treats!
What’s next for you? 

Big Daddy Biscuits is gearing up for the opening days of the farmers markets.  Currently, Marietta Square Farmers Market & Piedmont Park Green Market. East Atlanta Farmers Market starts on April 18 and the Alpharetta Farmers Market April 21st.  We will be at the Georgia SPCA Run For the Rescues and Woofstock in May.


Give us some words of wisdom:


Just keep your head up and keep striving for your dreams.  Nothing comes easy but if you LOVE it then it is worth it.  Big Daddy Biscuits started with a casual discussion with my family members.  Honestly, never thought I would make a difference making dog biscuits.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in the Big Daddy world?
  


Nothing too crazy happens in the Big Daddy world however, I LOVE being attacked with love from the dogs saying "THANKS" for the yummy biscuits. 

We love you, do you love us?  


I love you guys more than you know.  Feel the love all the time for you lovely ladies.

Big Daddy love.


Love Lauren as much as we do? We knew you would. Help Big Daddy Biscuits grow by getting in on the action here: http://smallknot.com/big-daddy-biscuits-llc

Oh and like BDB on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/bigdaddybiscuits

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Indie Craft Experience Presents: The Curatorial





 
Indie Craft Experience Offers Curated Online Shopping With ‘The Curatorial'
First Pop-Up Shop Launches March 15th!

Online shoppers rejoice! There is no longer a need to scour the web for the latest and greatest in handmade. Introducing The Curatorial, the Indie Craft Experience’s (ICE) curated online shop featuring items from the best crafters and artists in the country as chosen by co-founders Christy Petterson and Shannon Mulkey. Launching March 15, 2013, The Curatorial will feature four themed pop-up shopping experiences during its inaugural year.

Petterson and Mulkey can spot a trend in crafts from a mile away, which is why attendees of their popular marketplace events have come to trust their taste. The themed online pop-up shops will all be three weeks long with Handcrafted Goodness in March, Art Print Love in May, Vintage Treasures in July and Inspired Craft Supplies in October. 



 “We’re putting our seal of approval on every item that is featured on The Curatorial,” said ICE co-founder, Christy Petterson. “We’re so excited that our fans across the country have the opportunity to buy our favorite handcrafted items online.”

Shopping from independent artists and crafters has never been easier.  As two of the most trusted names in handcrafted, Petterson and Mulkey have done the legwork for you. By presenting only the very best from their top crafters and artists online, shoppers can buy ICE endorsed items even when an ICE event isn’t taking place.

The Curatorial
Launched by the Indie Craft Experience (ICE) in 2013, The Curatorial is an online shop featuring the best in all that is handcrafted as selected by ICE founders, Christy Petterson and Shannon Mulkey. The Curatorial features exciting items from the most talented crafters and artists in the country. All items are specially selected for their unique style and are available for purchase at www.TheCuratorialATL.com.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Intern Extraordinaire: Carolyn Kernodle

We keep getting luckier and luckier over in BOFC-land. First an awesome new account coordinator and now an incredible intern? Is this what being a proud parent feels like, guys?!

Meet Carolyn. A student at SCAD, tennis player, and all around super sweetheart. We're so happy she's here.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Better than Valentine's Day: Wedding Day Hooray!

Planning a wedding should be FUN: No seriously, it should. Bring your bestie, your mama, and your in-laws-be and get ready to be inspired. The ladies at the Indie Craft Experience are doing it right with Wedding Day Hooray: a Pinterest board come to life - you know those decor, DIY, and accessories you're always pinning? Get it here! Cake toppers, wedding invitations, hair accessories, custom tote bags, stationary... it's all here.


Cake Topper by The Small Object

Plus, the raffle is back! Here's a peek of what you can win:
For more info visit:  www.weddingdayhooray.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HBIC Volume 3: Elizabeth Stephens

Ms. Stephens Don't Take No Lip

If high school didn't totally suck for you as a teenager then chances are you probably had a teacher as incredible as Elizabeth Stephens. It takes a special person to identify with the hormonally challenged - especially when their main method of communication is fighting or emoticons. Read on to find out why Elizabeth and every other teacher in the Atlanta school system are HBIC worthy.

How did you get started being so awesome as a teacher?

Aww shucks… I wouldn’t call myself an awesome teacher, but I try. I suppose I thought about becoming a teacher during 6th grade. I had the most amazing teacher who actually made school fun, and gave me some much needed confidence as an awkward 11 year-old. That school year absolutely changed the way I viewed myself and gave me a unique appreciation for education. Since then, becoming a teacher was always in the back of my mind. It’s also in my blood. My grandmother was a teacher for 30+ years. She was known for her wicked “you better cut that out” face. I hope I inherited that.  



Why teaching?

I always wanted to do a job that made a positive impact on people’s lives. I love that my job gives me that opportunity on a daily basis. Teaching also gives me an outlet for my creativity. It’s never boring. Imagine putting 30 kids (still going through puberty) in one room for an hour. There’s never a dull moment.
 

How do you stay inspired?
 
I teach at an inner-city school that is constantly being pressured by higher-ups to meet test scores, graduation rates, etc. Many of our kids come from some really difficult situations and need extra support from an under-funded school system. Staying inspired in our environment can be really difficult if you don’t really love what you do. I love my job and I love my kids. The students who come to school willing to try everyday despite what’s going on at home keep me going.
 

What advice do you have for people wanting to become a teacher?

Don’t be afraid to be tough. Don’t forget that students (male and female) look towards you as a role model. Don’t forget that every day should be treated like a blank slate. Don’t forget how awful you acted in your teens, and how amplified your emotions felt. Don’t forget that you too had an awkward phase.
 

You're on a desert island - what 3 things are you bringing?

1) Big ol’ box of wine. 

2) My dogs 
3) All my Hanson CD’s (boom box included)
 

What are you top Atlanta finds and favorite places?

I really love how Edgewood Avenue has grown over the past couple of years. Church is my favorite place to find some religion. I also tried The Optimist for the first time last weekend. If you love sea food and have some extra cash, it’s definitely worth the money.
 

What’s next for you as a teacher?

Honestly, surviving this school year will be a huge milestone, but I’m also really looking forward to Jonathan Richman playing the Goat Farm this February.
 

Give us some words of wisdom: 
 

When it comes to our country’s debate over education, listen to the teachers. These are the people who spend a majority of their time working with students and they know what works. Listen to the teachers.
 

If a teacher makes a difference in your life, be sure to tell them. It makes everything worth it.

Everyone goes through an awkward phase. Be kind.  



What’s the craziest thing that happened to you at school?
 

I had 5 fights in my classroom the first two months of teaching. Not in the hall… not in the cafeteria. IN MY CLASSROOM. I felt like a referee for a while.
 

I also had a student cuss me out one day, and call me his favorite teacher the next. Teenagers….

We love you, do you love us? 

You guys are the best. As someone that spends a lot of time with teenagers, you keep me cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A New Addition to BOFC!

We're so excited to announce a new addition to Birds of a Feather Creative! Please join us in welcoming our Jr. Account Coordinator, Melanie Wade. We are so happy to have Melanie on our team and look forward to all of the amazing things she will add to BOFC. Read on to learn more about Melanie.

Love,

Jessi + Christina
 

Hello everyone. My name is Melanie, but my friends call me Mel. I am beyond excited to be joining the Birds of a Feather team as the Jr. Account Coordinator. Recently I graduated from Georgia State with a degree in Public Relations, a minor in Printmaking and a certification in Event Management. I like to think that my educational background encompasses what I do best: communication, creativity, and event production. 

 Along with my positive personality and passion for public relations, I bring with me my experiences in event planning. In 2011, I joined Young Blood Gallery as their public relations and marketing intern, an experience that led me to merge two art galleries together for a photography and music show I curated called Heaven Can’t Get Us

My best friends think of me as the quintessential “Go-Get-Er”, as I am always tackling a new project or ready for an adventure. Aside from event production and public relations, I have a passion for handmade, because if its not handmade then what is it? I am the craftswoman behind Aurelia Adornments, a Native American inspired jewelry line. I have always enjoyed making things with my hands, and weaving feathers into just about anything including hair. Recently, I have started up my own Kombucha tea company. I’m addicted to thrifting and frequenting flea markets. I love to eat tomato soup and grilled cheese, by dunking the grilled cheese in the tomato soup of course. When I am not busy creating or finding hidden treasures, you can catch me riding one of my vintage motorcycles, probably sporting a leather jacket and red lips. I have a need for speed and I can’t wait to go places with Birds of a Feather Creative.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

BOFC to Team Up with Fallen Arrows

Inside the studio
Where the magic happens... 
Voila! (Roooar)
Everyone knows that the New Year brings on exciting changes but let us tell you what - we have arrived honey, and the spotlight is on us! Or, erhm, that’s what Nene Leakes said about us anyway...We’re thrilled to announce that in addition to our incredible client’s, including the Indie Craft Experience, Flatiron Bar and more, we’re welcoming Fallen Arrows to the family. 

Fallen Arrows are bringing a service to this city like no other and these hard working printing afficionado’s are doing some pretty amazing things in 2013.Keep an ear to the ground about Fallen Arrows – you’re going to want to get it on this. Trust us.