Maddox DuPont was features on the cover of this months issue (April 2011) GLANCE Magazine.
Hello Maddox! Tell me a little about you. Where are you from? What do you do in Second Life?
I live in Melbourne, Australia. In Second Life, my partner Kirk and I own KMADD Enterprise which specialises in appearance based products and fashion/style services. In addition I love to build for MAD Agency shows and KMADD Events, get involved in Second Life charity work, and help new brands grow and develop their business.
I know that you are running several businesses under KMADD Enterprise. Could you explain to us which are they and what do they offer (MADesigns, etc.)?
KMADD Enterprise or simply KMADD, is the name for a conglomerate of several product and service based businesses. MADesigns, which is our product based brand, offers mostly avatar based products like shapes, hair, eyes and poses. Other service based aspects of KMADD Enterprise are MAD Agency, MAD Image and MAD Studio Photography.
MAD Agency is a boutique model management company that provides top models & style services to photographers, advertisers, designers and production companies in Second Life. Our focus has always been on quality over quantity therefore we are very selective about projects we choose to produce and people we employ.
MAD Image which consist of blog and styling services provides style inspiration and appearance/personal style assistance to Second Life residents.
Where did you find inspiration to name your different ventures?
Well originally I started out as a photographer and my studio was based on my SL name – MAD Studio. I then moved to making clothing for a very brief and embarrassing moment and this is how MADesigns brand was born. I then used the same brand for shapes and all other products, and once I met Kirk, we added K in front of MAD which is how KMADD came about. It actually all started as a joke as this was the time when tabloids referred to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as “Brangelina” therefore Kirk, my marketing genius, thought it would be cool if we combined our names together. So we tried number of combinations and KMADD was the one we liked the best.
MADesigns is mostly known for its shapes and then recently for the poses and hair collections. Do you remember the first item you ever designed?
My first item was actually a T-shirt.
I made whole collection of T-shirts using my RL artwork and sold them for a while under MADesigns brand, until I realised they all needed to be made in an untucked version. It was a “Doh!” moment. Around that time I started playing with shapes, so the clothing project – which was not doing well – was completely abandoned so I could focus only on shapes. I found it inspiring to bring characters to life by combining other people creations. It was also a time when there was not many male clothing stores and Kirk and I saw this as an opportunity to focus on exposing men to the fashion that is available and to encourage them to dress well, which would hopefully motivate designers to create more for men as well.
The first shape I ever made was actually never sold in my store. The same night I finished it, I remember being in MAD Studio trying some clothing from Form and Dessert Moon, when this guy came in wanting photos for his alt. He said he just broke up with his girlfriend on his main account and he wanted to create a hot avatar to seduce her. He heard that I do good photos and help people with their appearance, which I was doing a lot of at that time – helping people with their shapes and style before taking their photos. He then offered 10,000L for my shape and everything I was wearing, so I took him shopping and helped him piece it all together. He was very happy and told me that I should sell avatars. This is how the idea for style cards was born.
Do you remember the feelings when people did start to buy your products?
It’s always exciting when you create something and people find value in it enough to buy it. I think ideas are driven by your passion but if you can have both passion and monetary reward for your time and effort it can become a powerful motivator to continue creating.
I know that there are quite a few people in Second Life who think that this is just a game and that everything in Second Life should be for free and we should just do it for fun. This I’ve observed over the years is typical mindset of a person who copybots or wears stolen items. What these guys do not understand is that all creation costs someone both time and money; for many people and for whatever reason Second Life could be the only source of income and stealing from them you steal from their dependants and their livelihood.
Second Life would not look as good as it looks today if it was not for creators and customers who reward their time and effort by buying their products.
When I sold my first item I felt valued and that somehow I am contributing in some meaningful way to the overall wonderful community of Second Life.
KMADD is often referred to as the mecca of virtual fashion. What do you think got you this title? How do you both feel about your success story?
Fashion has always been an integral part of our business, as mentioned before by supporting other designers through what we do – everyone benefits. The customer can locate sometimes hard to find stores. The designer gets exposure and we have fantastic fashion at our disposal to use in creation of someone’s avatar. I believe that our dedication to the growth of male fashion through creation of KMADD City which at the time was hosting over 150 leading brands for men in one convenient location, has been somewhat a contributing factor in perception of KMADD brand. I am not sure if perception of KMADD being “mecca of fashion” is still there however, as new people have logged in and KMADD City does not exist any more.
Although, for anyone who has visited KMADD, since that change would see that we still continue to expose people to new and quality brands for men, through ever dynamic fashion section NEW RELEASES in Men’s Fashion (our little ever changing male fashion department store) and of course Designer showcase which features new designer bi-monthly, who often bring ever needed, want it! must have it! exclusive items, available only at KMADD.
Our success story is surreal to me. I think it is good that way. It allows you to focus on the things you love doing even more and that’s what it is all about for me. When you love what you are doing, it shows and people buy into it because of that. The most important thing is to never stop believing and to continue to do things you love till you achieve success. The funny thing is, when you get there you won’t even care or notice it, because you took the journey and there is no greater success than that.
What would you say sets you apart from other shape, poses and hair stores?
What KMADD does in everything that we create is to think like a customer, what a customer wants and needs. We make things available and keep things simple. We are also focussed on giving customer the best value for money, always lots of love goes back to the people that support our work through: hunts, group freebies and participating in various charity events. Great customer service is what we are really focussed on. Providing you have a quality product, your brand will gain a good reputation quickly if you can make each and every customer that walks out of your store happy.
Which product do you find the hardest to produce and why?
Hair can be tricky, especially short men’s hair, especially if it is high detail. And to my detriment, I often do both. It is extremely time consuming and it is kind of work that does not stop once the hair is made.
I think creating is an easy part in SL, it is part that every designer loves. Getting the item from when it is created to when it appears on the wall available for a customer to buy, has been promoted to every possible social network, blog, marketplace etc. is the most tedious work for every designer I am sure.
I personally, do not cope well with repetitive tasks but thanks to my wonderful manager Eve Petlyakov, whom I can trust with my full perm inventory, my life in SL for the past 12 months has been made far more pleasant.
You proudly state that you bring real personality into your shapes and help assert the fashion identity of avatars in SL through poses and hair as well. Are your SL skills related to your real life skills ?
I always had an eye for detail and I am no stranger to style. I get my creative side from my parents and have pursued studies in RL in this area. I also managed people in Real Life for many years and worked in customer service for nearly 20, so I definitely have good skill set when it comes to business and dealing with people. Kirk has a passion for marketing, so all these were important skills to have in addition to creative ideas and our ability to bring them to life.
Who are some of your favourite SL fashion designers?
There are so many great designers in Second Life and so many that I probably have never heard of as yet but do an amazing work. This is what is so wonderful about Second Life, you are always discovering great creations regardless how long you’ve been here.
But I will pick my 2 brands, not based on what I like to wear but on work I admire, that has made me dream, and inspired my collections. Of course I mean no offence to other designers who have not been mentioned here.
LeLutka – simply amazing style, marketing and products. Sisters and their team through massive amounts of hard work over the years, have created many memorable fashion moments/images that have made me proud to call my self a Second Life creator.
Cheerno – Cheerno is an absolute creative bomb with every collection. His work is always fun, inspiring and absolutely “out there”.
It is no surprise to me that both LeLutka and Cheerno won Glance Fashion Awards recently. They look after their customers, have amazing following due to that and great products to back them up. Knowing both Minnu and Cheerno when they were just starting their brands it is truly a proud moment for me to see them succeed and be acknowledged in some way.
Are you working on new products actually?
I try to release something each week, depending on my other projects. I do build a lot and I love doing that, so that bites a big chunk of my time. New poses will be coming for Pose Fair, new hair for Hair Fair, and new Complete Avatars collection in collaboration with new skin designers is something I am really looking forward to.
What are your future plans for MADesigns?
We have been neglecting the female section of MADesigns for a while, so this year female hair will be our main focus as well as a revival of female shapes collection. Thalia Jie is back and does styling for MADesigns female shapes and is my eyes and ears in female fashion. Having her back will allow to expand the female section of MADesigns and perhaps even bring few female designers to KMADD.
The best compliment you received so far?
I actually save compliments when I get them and over the years I collected quite a few – they are in my SENTIMENTAL folder. No, seriously they are!
I could never pick compliments based on how good they are, as even simple “I love your hair” would do it for me. Knowing people appreciate what I do is the best part of my job and truly touches my heart each time.
When you get a feedback on your product, you think great it works!
When you get a feedback on you service you feel yeah I successfully connected with my customer and provided the service they are happy with.
However, when people love certain experience you created for them which can be anything from KMADD party to MAD Agency Fashion Shows, I think those are the best compliments to have. Here are the few that stood out…
“Maddox, I have to tell you.. this build.. it touches something.. resonates in my soul…. it makes me emotional somehow.. the incredible detail and the things you put here.. I am more than just transported or immersed.. something is awakened from when I was a small kid and I experience this build like no other.. thank your for a singularly amazing experience in this spectacular creation.. being associated with you and just knowing you is always an awe inspiring experience.
Seriously, I could cry at thinking of this being destroyed”
“The build is magical. You know, you are a man of remarkable talents. When you think about it, all we really have at the end are memories and you have created some of the most magical and enduring memories that people could have. Your quite remarkable. When I’m an old old lady, I know I’m going to look back with smile on my virtual world days, and remember Kirk’s “Alice in Wonderland Birthday Party” … and the rabbit … and all the amazing people who have dressed up and I will smile gently and say … *thank you Maddox*”
Now is time for the bad question… What is your worst customer experience as of now?
Anyone running their store in Second Life would have a share of their horror stories and they are never fun to listen to unless you like to get angry. To be fair sometimes these conflicts are driven by merchant as well as customers.
Even though I have over 20 years in customer service, I can tell you that there were times when making customer happy was difficult in both Second Life and Real Life. But you do the best that you can, by balancing business and customer needs positive outcomes are always possible.
If you are a customer remember to be respectful, you’ll have a better chance of “winning”.
Merchants on the other hand, should always welcome customer feedback and develop their products in accordance to it. If the customer is happy, it often means your product, packaging and information is clear and of high standard. If you are not sure, ask them. You will be surprised what people got to say if they are given a chance.
What matters to you most as a content creator?
Freedom and imagination.
Lastly, where can readers buy your designs?
MADesigns products are available at KMADD (SLURL) as well as on Second Life marketplace.
Search KMADD or MAD in places in search or visit our blog for direct links to our various departments – https://madimage.wordpress.com