Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): Correct me if I am wrong – You started out selling shapes and turned that business into an incredible one stop location for the men of SL. Was that always the plan? or did it just expand as you saw fit?.
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): I actually started as a glamour photographer. I did lots of styling for my clients during photography sessions, that over time I was sought after for my appearance and styling expertise more than photography. It was mainly custom work that I was doing – redefining shapes and improving style of my clients.
One day a man walked into my studio and paid me 10k for the look I was wearing, so I came up with the idea of packaging the looks and selling them as shapes. I started with only 4 male shapes and as they were selling well I expanded the collection to nearly 100 shapes within 6 months. Then I met Kirk Claymore, my SL and business partner who has marketing background. Within less than a year we outgrew our small store on mainland and decided to purchase a sim and create KMADD City, which was at that time the only sim dedicated entirely to male fashion. It was only a natural progression as we were already promoting quality content creators within our style cards and we wanted to make male fashion more accessible to men who did not have much patience for shopping and who loved the convenience of one stop shop. This proved to be success as it encouraged more designers to start creating for men and left men with no excuse of dressing poorly. We then continued to grow our business opening MAD Agency Modelling and adding appearance based products (hair, eyes, poses) and beginning to collaborate with skin designers to bring Complete Avatars and skins to KMADD.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): Your business partner is Kirk Claymore, has he been your business partner from the start? and how hard do you think it is to run a successful business in Second Life with more than one person?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): I already had a business before I met Kirk. As most of my time in SL was spent in the store by either taking photos, making shapes or helping customers Kirk simply joined me so to spend more time with me by helping with customer service, marketing and building our network. I think it is harder to run business on your own than in a partnership. We both had different strengths so when combined together it was successful combination. Also when you are in partnership you tend to have common goals to work towards which drives you and keeps you motivated.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): As stated you do a lot more than just sell shapes now, over the years with the expansion of your store MADDesigns, what has been your favourite addition after shapes, to the business and why?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): Well male hair has been the most successful product to date. Simply because it is cheaper and you sell more units. Unlike shape which you possibly buy only a couple of times, hair you change depending on the outfit. It was a great addition to our business and it provided men of Second Life with more options, when there were only few. It also allowed me to create hair styles I needed and could not find to style my shapes. However, it is a lot more time consuming to make and learning curve is huge – still in it! My female couture hair collection that debuted at Modavia Fashion Week last week has been most enjoyable to make. I was truly inspired when I made this collection of hair and shapes to match and ladies seem to like it.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): MADDesigns the store is also only part of the MAD empire, what other businesses do you and Kirk own/manage, and how have you expanded into them over the years?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): There are 2 main sides to KMADD Enterprise ~ service and product.
The service aspect of KMADD: MAD Agency Modelling, KMADD Events, MAD Studio photography and MAD Image styling. Lot of MAD!
MADesigns is product side of KMADD and it is what keeps our business afloat. MADesigns offers mainly avatar and appearance based products, we started with shapes and added hair, eyes, poses and we also feature skins and complete avatars within our store.
Although KMADD City (men’s fashion district) is no longer in existence we kept the same group of designers expanding it over the years, and are still featuring their creations in our New Releases in Men’s Fashion and Designer showcase sections of KMADD. We are currently looking at rebuilding KMADD to better suit our customer and business needs with fashion being important component and perfect accompaniment to our appearance based products and new directions we are planning to take.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): MADDesigns at one stage shared space at Glam World, many newer residents won’t know that, did that exposure due to being connected to a Male skin store have some influence on what direction you took? and how do you remember that experience?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): Minnu Pallen is a very dear friend of mine and one of oldest friends I got in SL. I met Minnu when I first took photos of her at MAD Studio at KMADD Enterprise sim, we hit it off straight away as we had the same cultural background, so we became friends. Later Minnu and Thora joined MAD Modelling Agency and soon after that began creating skins. We always helped each other over the years through support, feedback, promotion etc. One of the ways that MADesigns has promoted and helped growth of Minnu Models skins (currently LeLutka) was through our shapes. When Glam World opened, Minnu invited all the creators that best support her product line. During this period we had a small community of content creators who all knew each other, I remember number of KMADD parties where designers, models, fashionistas and socialites mixed together – it was the golden age of SL for my generation.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): You yourself have a very creative mind, developing incredible fashion show sets, such as the Modavia Fashion Week set that ends today. Have you always been that way in RL too? is there an art background in your real life that you have brought with you to Second Life?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): I have Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Art) Degree in real life, have been in number of theater productions and worked as an art director for short films. I have always been creative be it photography, writing, performance (in real life) or set design which I have done for MAD Agency shows & KMADD Events for the past 4 years. I also have background in people management and customer service which helps in running of KMADD Enterprise.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): As a business owner in a virtual environment that deals with the majority of American and European based clients, how do you manage when you live in a completely different timezone?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): I don’t have to as I am a night bird, so when I am awake we are both in same time zone. But seriously, health wise I realise this is not good so in the past 2 years I have tried to balance this and follow normal waking hours, unless there is an important event to attend in Second Life where my presence is needed.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): You and your business have been featured in RL magazines in the past, how was that experience for you? and did you celebrate that in RL with friends and family?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): It was great for Elle Magazine to do an article on virtual fashion. Both KMADD and LeLutka were featured at that time. Although there is nothing to be gained from that exposure as most readers would not be in Second Life, it is great to see creativity that exists in Second Life be acknowledged and given relevance. We just had a few drinks when that issue arrived.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): There has been a lot of changes recently to the grid, where do you see yourself heading in the next 12 months as a business? and do you have plans of expanding even further? or do you feel that what you have now works well enough?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): Over the past 2 years we have rebuilt KMADD and changed our product lines. This change brought about Complete Avatars, Shape only offering and Premium shapes (our original product) was changed to now include hair and eyes with each shape. These changes were made to better suit customer requirements and to add more value to original MADesigns Shapes. This also meant that we had to lose all our female shapes that did not fit within new model (so not to confuse the customer), mainly because our female hair range was limited. Over the next 6 months we will be working on expanding female hair collection which has already occurred with recent debut of our female Couture line at Modavia Fashion Week. This will provide us a with variety of styles needed to start expanding our female shape collection.
Over the next 12 months KMADD would also need to go through some restructuring to better meet the business and customer needs.
Everybody is talking about mesh, but we are not convinced as yet that it is at the stage that would make it commercially viable in terms of cost, customer support and flexibility. It looks good but with all things in SL, it needs time to develop. We will be keeping an eye on it and act on opportunities.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): You built the set, created hairstyles for shows and did the majority of the DJing LIVE for Modavia Fashion Week, how did you get involved in that, and were you pleased with the outcome, show wise and people showing up for the shows themselves, as it did seem to be a very appreciative audience every show.
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): Me and Poptart Lilliehook (Modavia owner) have worked together previously on numerous shows for MAD Agency. As Pop models for us and I have always done music and sets for MAD Agency, she was already familiar with my work. End of 2010 Pop invited me to do a set design and music for Modavia’s Pop Art Show. This was our first collaboration. After this, Dahlia Joubert (Modavia) landed her styling expertise for Derezzed ~ Tron Legacy inspired show by MAD Agency. We have very much influenced each other’s success for the past year before Modavia Fashion Week so I guess we were confident in each other’s ability to work together on such a huge project.
Last month, leading up to Modavia Fashion Week has been absolutely exhausting. I’ve created 23 female styles to be included within the shows, made 40 music playlists and over 20 sets (of which only 8 were used). I also had to work in a different time zone to my own (American instead of Australian) to meet the requirements of Modavia Fashion Week. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I am glad it is over work-wise.
For anyone that enjoys fashion, Modavia Fashion Week should be an important date on Second Life’s fashion calendar. I believe that Modavia Fashion Week encourages designers to produce new work and successfully promotes it. We need to nurture our talent or we may lose it and what would Second Life be without our creators?
I was so pleased with how everything went and for someone who is stuck in his studio most of the time, naked, creating whatever it may be, I enjoyed seeing many familiar faces and socialising as much as I could during the shows. I would like to thank anyone that came to support our designers and Modavia Fashion Week, countless hours of work that has gone in producing event of this magnitude have been made worthwhile thanks to you.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): If there was an ultimate show you could create in Second Life, what type would it be? no av limits or prim limits…what kind of show would be your extravaganza so to speak?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): I always wanted to do an art performance in SL. It would be good if we could move our AVs ourselves instead of using animations, sort of Lawnmover Man/Surrogates concept.
I hope one day to be able to also create a world or a scene where every aspect of it including avatars in it is my own creation.
Sasy Scarborough (too Sexy magazine): lastly, is there any advice you would give someone just starting out in business in Second Life?
Maddox DuPont (KMADD): Follow your passions, find your niche and take care of your customers no matter how big you get.
Maddox Dupont fashion sets from MODAVIA Fashion Week is now available for sale at KMADD.