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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spotlight on Prism Designs’ Journey McLaglen- Lanai Jarrico Reporting..

Fashion is a staple within the Second Life community. Without it, we could not express our personal style. There are many talented designers in the virtual world, each with their own creative style and vision. Among them is Journey McLaglen. 

She has been filling my personal wardrobe for the past few years, including custom pieces you won’t find in world or on the SL marketplace. I thought it is about time I share her with the rest of you. Prism Designs prêt à porter is for fashion forward divas that like to dress to impress and won’t settle for anything less.

Journey McLaglen rezzed on the scene December 20, 2006 and brought with her a unique fashion sense that can be seen worn by many fashionistas across the grid.
Prism Designs is a two story fashion boutique located on Bal Harbour.  When you arrive at this store, you are presented with open space shopping that is light and airy.
One quote she has in her profile that sums up the type of person she is states,

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”
This rings true when you are in the presence of kind genuine people and Journey is definitely one of them. She takes customer service seriously and puts her best into creating high quality fashion.

Interview with Journey McLaglen

Lanai: Hi Journey, I am excited to present our readers with such a talented designer. Let me start of by saying thank you for one of the most fabulous custom dresses I have hanging in my virtual closet. I received so many compliments when I wear it.
Journey: Thank you for featuring me and Prism, Lanai. We are so proud to have you wear the Prism brand. Prism has grown into a team effort with some of my dearest SL friends who started as models with Prism when it was new.
Today these talented ladies – Jezzixa Cazelet, Evita szuster …., Sererika Capra, Angeleena Capalini, Maia McKeenan and Honeybear Lilliehook – have become the heart and soul of Prism. Without them I would be lost. They provide photography, model, handle hunts and events, work with the bloggers, fill shopping bags, reset vendors and are even trying their hand at designing. Jezz particularly is getting very good. It is truly a team effort.

Lanai:  It is great that there is a team effort involved In Prism. I know it helps tremendously in business here in Second Life but before we get into Prism Designs, I wanted the readers to get to know a bit about you. Where are you from and how did you discover Second life?

Journey: Well, I am one with Journey and she with me, but in real life my name is Cindy. I live in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston and work in marketing in the oil and gas industry. In real life, my specialty is brand culture development and management but I also handle organizational change and blended learning development, which usually are the key changes in a business that adversely affect the culture.

As a teenager growing up in the Florida Keys, I never would have imagined I would be working in some of the largest companies in the world. But I always wanted to make a difference and improve people’s lives. For years I did it through social responsibility projects and now I get to help people when the company is hurting and the employees are stressed. I go to work each day with the hope of making noticeable improvements in the working environment and helping people rally around the brand they represent.

Lanai: Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself. It sounds like you have a very rewarding life both in and outside of SL. Would you say Second Life is a hobby or an extension of your real life?
Journey: Second Life and design are a creative release for me, and making clothing that makes my fellow SL’ers smile is a labor of love. I look forward to logging in each night --after spending time with my RL family, I then get to spend time with my SL family.
Part of Prism is an extension of my real life and that is the dedication to marketing and brand. I am proud to have a brand that my employees and customers have an emotional connection with.

Lanai:  Creating a balance between rl and Sl is very important. I’m glad to hear you are able to organize such a schedule. You should be proud of your accomplishments, you do a wonderful job. What do you like most about Second Life when you aren’t working?
Journey: Definitely the people! There are so many wonderful people here and since we are all equally beautiful on the outside, it gives the inside a chance to shine without the distortions we might have in RL – perceptions that are influenced by the media and images of impossible perfection.
There is nothing more rewarding for me than to meet people and get to know them from the inside out. And to dress these beauties is a dream come true. I am so happy to help our Prism customers feel beautiful through and through, because they are.

Lanai: I cannot agree more with that statement. The people here are what make SL worth logging in for me too and I like that we meet from the inside out. There are so many that inspire my creativity. Where do you draw your inspiration from when you begin sketching your designs?

Journey: A lot of my inspiration comes from the environment and from social interaction. I may see a basic mixture of textures on the runway or in a magazine and I imagine them in variations in SL. You can see those variations in my clothing. I usually do about six versions of each outfit and they look so unique from one another. You will seldom run into anyone wearing the exact same thing when they are wearing Prism.

 Lanai:  My closet is full of Prism clothing in all kinds of colors and styles. I really like the fit and styles you come up with. You certainly have an eye for what is trending. Do you work with a business partner or is this a solo endeavor?
Journey: As I mentioned earlier, this is definitely a team effort. If I did it on my own it would be a full-time job. But pitching in together we are able to do so much. And this leaves us all a little wiggle room to enjoy our Second Life and get creative.
I consider every member of my team to be a partner in Prism. Instead of a salary, the team is set up on the servers to share part of the revenues so they are as much invested in the success of Prism as I am, and they reap the same rewards.
I try to spend at least four evenings and one weekend day on design. The team makes that possible for me. Honestly, they are the most giving and caring women I have ever met and they are very loyal and committed to the brand. It would not exist without them.

Lanai:  Commitment and Loyalty are two of the most important traits when working with others and it sounds rewarding to everyone involved.  So going behind the scenes, can you give me an idea about what goes into a design from start to finish?

Journey: First there is the actual decision about what I will make. Then I must decide what pieces are mesh, prims, or system items.
Production of the mesh and prim pieces comes next. Sometimes I use exclusive or semi exclusive meshes designed by some of my wonderful artistic friends in the SL design world. I have also invested in Maya and am now learning to work in Maya’s 3D environment. It is exciting and fun, I only wish I had more time for learning.

Then I head to Photoshop or sometimes GIMP depending on what I need to do. GIMP does a few things really well like netting. Photoshop definitely allows for a lot more creativity.
System pieces are layered in the avatar framework. Mesh clothing is painted into layers over the UV map. A typical outfit can have 20-25 layers used to create the highlights, shadows and wrinkles that make the clothing realistic. These will all be blended together to create the final texture.

I enjoy producing the fabrics themselves more than anything. I always produce unique fabrics and only use them once. My latest fabric creation is windowpane which is often used in suiting. I just finished a set of belted tunic sweaters, each in a different knit stitch.
Lanai: You have so many nice separates in your collection. I really like that I can mix and match your outfits. I also noticed a lot of new items. How often do you add to your collection?

Journey: I try to do three new outfits a month and Jezz is now doing one new outfit a month. Her clothing is identified in the store with her name. I encourage my team to design and want them to be known for their work.

The separates are handled by Jezz, and Ange. They tediously break down outfits to find unique pieces that could be sold individually. And Evita combs through my designs to find textures I created for an outfit but never used.
Jezz also does the Lola appliers. I admire her work there. It is no easy task to match my design over those big boobies without getting stretch!

Lanai:  lol. I see you take into consideration all body shapes and sizes. Everybody loves a good sale.  I couldn’t help but notice a section that included some high quality clothes priced at only 75L, What is your average price range?

Journey: A new outfit typically goes for about 400 linden but I never do just an outfit. There is always a surprise inside like shoes, a scarf, jewelry or a jacket. These can be used with the outfit or on their own. If the outfit has fewer pieces or if it is a simple design, we will sometimes introduce it in the 300L range. Typically the price of the outfit directly reflects the number of hours I have had to put into the design.
 A typical outfit with six different color schemes takes me one week from start to completion.

Sales are determined by Evita, our financial expert. She carefully watches to see what is selling and what is not. Sometimes she recommends a reshoot of another color in the outfit to freshen interest. These statistics are also used to determine what colors become exclusives and what goes on sale. Evita is a banker in RL and brilliant. 

Her spreadsheets give us a million ways to look at our results.

Lanai: Researching statistics like that definitely works in your favor. Besides what is trending now, I know people like giveaways and hunts. Do you do them?

Journey: Oh yes. The team, led by Jezz, all get involved with the group gifts. They love to find exciting things to give for gifts. It becomes a treasure hunt in my inventory to find items I designed but did not release.

The hunts are a quite a lot of work. Sere and Jezzixa keep them rolling according to schedule.

Maia also manages exclusives for fund raisers, plans events and contests and is our blogger manager. She also keeps me on track for delivering those items on time.

Evita helps us get additional exposure by making our clothes available on Marketplace and several of the top shopping regions like Mimi's Choice!

Lanai:  I agree, those activities can be time consuming. I like that you get involved in fundraisers to. You are a woman of style and class with a giving nature.  Let’sa talk about colors. What seem to be the most popular color this season and what is currently your best seller?

Journey: Well, black is the new black! Yes, black is back, particularly black and white, but color and prints are still strong. The fabrics that are popular at this time of year are tweed, herringbone, knits, plaids and leather. The top colors in fall fashion this year are hunter green, leaf green, marine blue, cassis purple, stop red, patina brown, and storm grey.

Lanai: Those are some nice earthy colors for this fall. I am also a big fan of black and white, I just love that combination.  While browsing Prism Designs, I noticed some limited edition items around the boutique. Once they are gone, they are gone forever or can they still be found on the marketplace?

Journey: Limited editions are definitely limited to the number on the vendor. When they are sold they are gone forever. Typically when I am making an outfit, I will do one or two extra in special colors and designs. These are used for holiday specials, exclusives, and special events.

Lanai:  That’s a good way to add some exclusive items to a wardrobe! I will have to keep an eye on those limited editions. The worst thing to be faced with is going to a party and someone is wearing your same exact outfit. Ahhhh! lol

Let’s talk about custom designs. You did an amazing job on my dress. I gave you a kindergarten level drawing and you turned my vision into a reality. If a customer wants something custom, what steps do they need to take to make an order and how long do they usually take to be delivered?

Journey: Well Lanai…you are very special. I do not usually do custom. But once in a while for a special person or reason I will do it. Timing is also critical. It helps to approach me when I am ahead on my designs and have one or two things in the hopper. It is impossible to price a custom piece. Anywhere from 9-16 hours can go into one exclusive item. This is why so few people do custom work.

Lanai: Aww Journey, you are so sweet. I think highly of you too and thank you again for that gown, I can tell you put a lot of thought into it. It is exactly how I imagined. I can also see how custom work can be quite time consuming for designers.  Do you participate in fashion shows and other activities here in Second Life when you have time?

Journey: Well, I am not perceived as the most social person because design is so time consuming and I work full time in RL but I do try to get out and have fun and can sometimes be lured away from the sim to play for a while. Prism participates in about two shows a month. Maia manages them and makes sure they stay on schedule.

Lanai: You offer Prism Gift Cards. How can new customers redeem them at your store?
Journey: It is really quite simple. We use the BSM (aka Bejamble) Vendor System. All you have to do to redeem a gift card is wear it once and remove it. It will credit the value of the card to your SL account in our store. It shows up as store credits. You can check your available store credit from any vendor in the store and also at the store kiosk.
To use the credit in your account, simply touch the item you wish to purchase and select the store credit button. That is all you have to do.

Lanai: I know you are a busy lady, so before I let you get back to work, what do you have in store for the Prism Designs Collection in 2014?

Journey: Well the big thing for us will be men’s clothing. I have made many promises to do it and will finally make true to my word. I might also try my hand at skins. Other than that, I can definitely promise the latest fashion trends for prêt à porter, which is French for ready to wear. That is the Prism niche. There are some very good haute couture designers in SL but the market is limited. This is why at Prism we have chosen to focus on fun, trendy, fresh-off-the-catwalk prêt à porter.

Lanai:  I cannot wait to see your men’s line! Men’s fashion really needs a boost in SL’s fashion world so I am sue you will do fantastic. Journey, it was a pleasure chatting with you. Is there anything else you wanted to share with our readers before we end this interview?

Journey: Thank you Lanai. As always it is wonderful to visit with you. Yes there is one important thing -- I would like to encourage all of those who want to learn to design to follow their passion whether it be fashion, furniture, accessories, or hair, whatever. I have mentored many SL designers in my years in here and it is so rewarding to see them succeed. I am always open to design questions from new designers. Be patient with yourselves. Your skills will improve with every outfit you make.

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