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Saturday, July 6, 2013

SL Business Interview and Advice - Orchids Zenovka Reporting….

Part 1:

Trying to practice Business without knowledge is like sailing an uncharted sea. I talked to some avis, who have managed to make a success of themselves in business in SL and yet have not forgotten who they were to start out with and have remained true to themselves. These are honest detailed interviews, though lighthearted at times. While it is true that business is dull facts and sheets, there is nothing to stop us from having some fun. Understanding the minds behind the ones who have made a strong business can sometimes be more rewarding than trying to look for easy “tips and tricks” to be successful overnight.
So here’s the candid and amazing Pixy and another secret avi for you artists out there … read on!

View of a Designer

Orchids Zenovka: αмαɭϮнєα Ɗ ɭα Crσι aka Pixy.Snook ; you are a successful blogger and businesswoman in SL. Thank you for spending time out with us to talk shop :).

Pixy.Snook:  You are SO welcome! I'm honored really. I never expected to be doing an interview.

Orchids: Who’s αмαɭϮнєα Ɗ ɭα Crσι?

Pixy:  I am me. I'm sugar and spice and everything nice. Toss in some sparkles, something shiny, lots of color, mix in some love, shake it all up and that’s me. The RL me has pink hair, piercings and tattoos - I know many in SL have these but are perfectly 'normal' in RL. I embrace this in RL and SL but I can. I've always held down a job, and had a relatively prosperous career WITH my pink hair but I also have the personality to back it up. I'm cosmo Goth geek, with a smidge of bubble Goth mixed in. I think this tends to reflect in my designs. Oh Ohhh and the name Amalthea - that’s the name of The Last Unicorn, a great cheesy 80's animated movie, the Lady Amalthea. Teenie bit a triva in there I guess and one of my favorite movies.

Orchids: PixyStix the sweet candy? :) 

Pixy: Yup, sweet as candy. Before being Amalthea De la Criox, I was known as PixyStix. It was a nick name I got when I was a hostess, which was quite fitting. I've been told I'm sweet and at times too nice. So the name PixyStix was born and I decided to name my store the same! Also, they come in lots of different flavors, so do I! lol

The Ghost of Pixy Past

Orchids: When did you enter SL and how? What did you do initially as a newbie?

Pixy: Hmmmm noob me. Well it was about 6 years ago now, SL was still new to me and anything computer 'game' was quite foreign at the time too (I had always been more of a console gamer, like playstation, the Xbox and such). In any case, I was a cosmetology student at the time and a girl in my class told me about SL and how my creative skills could be a lot of fun for me. So what did I do? I tried SL of course!
 As for what did I do at first, well a whole lot of nuthin', lol. I shopped and tried to find neat freebies. It was all new to me and quite exciting but I was broke, ALL the time and refused to add any RL monies into SL (still a rarity for me to do). So I got a job. I was a hostess for 3 years and all of those 3 years were shared with the same employer. I'd still be a hostess to this day had the club not shut its doors. I can be rather committed, and not in a crazy insane kinda way....ok maybe a little that too, but only sometimes.

Orchids: How did you get interested in business?

Pixy: I was always interested in having a place of my own, being my own boss - something I share here and in RL. I found in my wanderings as a mostly poor SL resident, at the time anyway, I couldn't always find the things I was looking for (makeups and shirts). So I started to make them. I just did random things here and there for personal use, nothing too impressive, but it was something I wanted. Like a blue eyeliner or a Never say no to Panda dress.  Which btw, if you've never heard of Never say no to Panda dear readers, I still have a giggle fit over it. ( And so ~PixyStix~ the store was born in my head.

Orchids: When and why did you open the store?

Pixy: A long time ago in a galaxy far away........ Ok seriously though, I was completely bummed out when CStar had closed its doors a few years back. I got together with Aisling Caiben, who was also depressed over this, or at least I was depressed over this, lol, and we had lots of conversations and created what was then known as Scratch skins. We had a nice little collaboration and had some fun, I learned a lot during that time and grew as a designer (Aisling also now as her own little store called Joli with all sorts of sweets available there! ).  After Scratch dissipated, not cause we fell out or anything, it just sorta fizzled, I opened my itty bitty store at the club I worked at and there it remained for a few years and just had small things here and there.

Orchids: Tell me about the process to get to where you are now, what have you done?

Pixy: I've made lots of mistakes. Uploaded textures only to find I was unhappy with them afterwards. I'm far from perfect and I'm my own worst critic. I'm persistent and I think because I'm not all that interested in profit I've been able to maintain a small store within SL. But with each mistake I've grown and learned something new about designs and myself.

Orchids: Who was the person who most influenced you, and how?

Pixy: Oh my gosh, there’s so many really. I can't pin point just one. But I'd have to say... Unico (when she left sl she left me wanting more!), Aisling (for being my business partner way back when I barely knew how to do much of anything skin wise), Shasteena (for always loving what I made), Messiah (for being that first 'you can do it' voice in my head), Nikky (for letting me have my teenie store in her club for what seemed forever!), Julya (for being her, loading me up with events and ideas and just being awesome) and my Eelie (who always has my back, my love, my friend, who gives me total honest opinions and I know he'd tell me if something looked wrong! ).

Orchids: You have a blog/ you tube tutorials/facebook/Google plus/Flickr and are active in social networking...Apart from the social aspect does it further the business prospects greatly or can one do without such?

Pixy: I am really not a fan of social networking. I had a MySpace back in the day and moved onto FB like everyone else. But I don't love it and I don't spend a lot of time on it. Flickr I try to update pretty regularly and I enjoy just wandering through people’s photos to see what kind of amazing things they've come up with or discovered. Sometimes I get distracted for hours just browsing. When I run into a pickle though, like how to do this or that I always turn to YouTube.

I think social networks certainly CAN assist businesses, but they're only reaching the audience that utilizes those networks. My FB is more for fun random bits, not business related. I follow some other people on FB and their businesses, but it’s not a priority for me.

Orchids: It seems your blog stems from passion... whats the secret to a good blog? What are your business oriented sites?

Pixy: I am a terrible blogger. I'm good for about a day, maybe, but then something shiny gets my attention and off I go. Julya Lykin-Bishop is in total control of my blog now, and omg, it’s been updated!!  She does some great work. All of my sites are listed at the bottom, but I really enjoy Flickr and taking photos.

Orchids: You organize hunts and give out freebies and discounts... why and how are they important to you?

Pixy: Everyone can look fabulous in SL and it doesn't require Lindens, just a little work to find the best freebies out there! There are all kinds of great blogs, links, groups and so on which are devoted to just that. Having linden to spend is great, but with a little effort and perseverance one can look awesome at no cost. I will always be offering some sort of group giftie, MM and luckies. I try to keep them updated and changed once a month, but sometimes I fail lol.

Orchids: What was the best day of your life/ best thing that happened to you while working in SL?

Pixy: Aside from business, meeting Eelie in SL, best day ever and it just keeps going. But store related - the first time someone IM'd me and said my skin beat out their current favorite from another quite popular skin store. I think I may have squealed that day.

Orchids: What were the difficulties in business that you had to face?

Pixy: There will always be difficulties, how can I sell more, how can I reach more people, what do people want and how can I get them into my store. It’s common for all businesses. But I try to maintain SL as my non stress zone. If I'm stressing out over making something or a deadline, then it’s become no fun. But until that day happens, I will continue to make new things!

Orchids: What mistakes have you made?

Pixy: Lots!! Seam lines on a texture are the worst. I've uploaded too many mistakes. Temp textures and local textures are now my friends. Often times my own impatience led to my mistakes. I'm far from perfect and will continue to be imperfect; though I do try to fix those that I come across.

Orchids: What have you learned?

Pixy: How to use Photoshop effectively. Not to doubt myself so much. Sparkle will always be awesome. Fluffy doesn't convert to Photoshop so well. Patience.

Orchids: When did you realize that you have succeeded?

Pixy: I don't think I have realized that. Nor do I think I ever will. I'm just a little store making my own little name here in SL.

The present

Orchids: What is your most popular feature/product/service?

Pixy: Umm I'm not sure. I rarely keep track of whats selling better than something else, I just hope people are enjoying what they do purchase!

Orchids: Is it necessary to have an inworld & marketplace store?

Pixy: No, I don't think you have to have both. Personally I really don't like MP. The search function stinks, too many demos populate my searches and as a merchant I despise loading items into it. I prefer in world stores, both for myself and other merchants. I like going to in world stores, the store designs often give me some sort of vibe for the person/designs. I do have to say though, to those who DO have an inworld store, be true to you. I did a hunt the other day and I'd say half the stores were all using one or two builds. It’s really doesn't make me want to shop somewhere when I've seen the build several other places. But that’s just me.

Orchids: What kind of earnings should a newcomer expect going into this line?

Pixy: Don’t have expectations of earnings. That’s a problem I think most businesses in SL have. They start something and think 'oh this will be great; I'll make lots of money'. That’s NOT the case. SL is very competitive; there are designers of all types out there. Go into business because you like it, because you enjoy it and want to share with the world of SL, not because you want to be rich and famous.

Orchids: What kind of customers do you have?

Pixy: I'm not sure. All sorts I suppose. I don't have a specific type of avatar that I try to attract. I like all types and love the uniqueness that makes up this crazy world we call Second Life.

Orchids: How do you deal with griefers/ rude customers?

Pixy: I never had any!! I'm sure now that I've said that I've opened a window for them. But honestly, if someone decides to be an ass that’s their karma to deal with not mine.

Orchids: What advice would you give to people thinking of entering this area?

Pixy: Never give up and never surrender. Money doesn't buy happiness. Do not expect to make a profit, especially over night!! Stores in SL or RL take some time to build and perfect (and mine is far from perfect!).

Orchids: Old timers- what would you advise them?

Pixy: Same as I'd advise new people! It can be difficult and sometimes it feels like no one even knows your store exists, but never give up, unless it’s become no fun, then whats the point?

Orchids: Your biggest do's and don’ts in business...

Pixy: Don't take on too much. Don't do every single hunt or new event. Choose your battles so to speak. I shop A LOT and when I see a store at every single event, it turns me off from that store. I don't look forward to new items because they're everywhere!!

Orchids: Businesses closing down in SL (Waka &Yuki, Bliss Couture)... what’s your take? How do you think it affects SL? And how do we maintain a positive outlook?

Pixy: I think it’s really sad to see stores go that have been around forever. But I wish their owners the best in their RL and SL if they remain and just don't design anymore. Being a store owner, events, new releases all the times can be quite stressful.  Ok a lot of the time, I really don't know how some stores do it. RL first, always. SL can be quite the stepping stone to RL. I've met some fabulous people from all over the world I would love to get a cup of coffee with. And I hope those stores that close or leave SL do exactly that.

Peering into the future

Orchids: What features/expansion are you planning?

Pixy: I'm not planning anything exactly. I'm very much a last minute type of person. But there is a new skin line coming soon, as well as gacha's and I'm sure some more randomness. It’s highly unlikely I'll make my store bigger, I'd end up spending too much and cost is always something I keep a close eye on. Like I said previously, so long as I cover land rent and uploads, I'm a happy camper.

Orchids: If you hadn't gone into business, what might you have done?

Pixy: Well in SL options are limitless. I might still be a hostess, or I might be a stripper (never did that in SL!!) or I might even be so wrapped up in my RP I'd need nothing more! It's really hard to tell what might have been.

Orchids: If you could choose, due to unknown circumstances you had to take a break from SL and close shop, what would you like that your customers say about you?

Pixy: I think most people understand RL first and I think my customers would understand that as well. I have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. But I tell you what, if I magically won the lottery, I would vanish from SL for a bit so I could travel the RL world; see places I could never afford to do previously and have that cup of coffee with a few special people.

Orchids: Anything else you wish to say to our readers….

Pixy: Oh um....first - anything I make can also be done for petites! (cept mesh items) So people can IM me and I'm more than happy to convert it! And second, I'm very approachable. I never want to be the type of designer that the customers don't feel like they can't talk to.

Part 2 to follow… - View of an Artist - JudiLynn India


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