Monday, June 21, 2010

Ear Candy.


Maeve Mortlock is the wonderful designer behind Ear Candy - one of the most affordable jewellery stores on the grid. Her love for designing and for jewellery is as evident as her commitment to keeping her prices down. I found Maeve to be so much fun. She has a good sense of humour and is just a joy to talk to . Sometimes, meeting people to interview can be daunting and difficult but this is one time I definitely love my job.

Maeve answered the following questions for me:

1. Ear Candy is a great little shop full of all kinds of treats … the best kind of candy for girls actually … jewels and gems … why jewellery? How did you get into doing jewellery?

I started in SL peering over my husband’s shoulder; watching him build. It took me a month or so to actually sign up. I’m not a “joiner” in RL. I started making furniture and opened a store named Rugs and Art. Then I saw more and more sculptys becoming available and thought, " hey what else can I do with those cute little shapes? Ahhhh….jewelry!" At first I threw away more than I kept but with practice came addiction…and Ear Candy was born.

2. How did you come to pick your own personal name? Ever think about changing it? If so what name would you change it to and why?

Funny you should ask that question. I was just recently kicking myself about picking such a gender specific name. I have a male alt and it would be nice to be able to just change your shape and clothes and be “yourself” without a whole other login and inventory. I sometimes forget to log off and suddenly I’m a cross dresser. Not a good look for Maeve.

But I am happy I picked the name Maeve. It’s a name I’ve always liked. Tried to pin it on a couple of our dogs but always got vetoed. So I’m glad I kept it for SL. I’m Maeve now.

Ear Candy Black Emerald Square Cut 1

3. What is your philosophy about being a designer in SL? How do you see your role and your relationship within the fashion community, and with your customers?

Customers HAVE to be number one. Just like in RL if you don’t place your customers first you won’t have a business. If making money is all you’re about, you’re in the wrong world. I don’t think I’ve had any problems making my customers happy. And not sure I would consider myself a designer yet; more of a creator. My role in the fashion community is more supplier than designer. Those of us making jewelry in SL know fashion means clothes and shoes. They’re number one in SL. We are but humble jewelers.

4. Your prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality of your work. Why have you kept them so low?

When I first came to SL I was a shopaholic like everyone else. I’d tp around window shopping thinking when I have more money I’ll come back and get this or that. When I did have more money I’d come back and not spend it because it just seemed like too much to spend. I saw jewelry I loved but I knew how much I was willing to spend and how much was just too much. To those people who can get hundreds for a pair of earrings or a necklace or a ring; my hats off to you. I know some pieces are so complicated they must be working for days on one piece. I’m not saying they don’t put the work into them to justify the cost but I wouldn’t spend that much myself so how do I expect other people to? There are customers for every pocketbook. 59L just seems to be the right number for me.

5. Your other stores include wall graphics, mirrors and rugs … how did that all come to be? Which of your many pursuits do you enjoy the most?

My husband has stores in Sl. One is a mirror store with a camera trick that makes it seem like you’re seeing your reflection. Texturing was one thing I did better than him so I took over the mirror store. Okay, I stole it. Then I started making rugs, furniture and the clutter that’s on most tables…mine anyway. I love jewelry in RL. My sister makes her own. I’ve tried and ruined many a piece so it was only fitting I try in SL to see if I had any better luck. I think I did and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

6. You mention custom work .. Do you get a lot of requests for that and what kind of things can you do, or are you willing to do for customers?

I’ve gotten a few requests. Nothing very complicated. I’m willing to try anything. In RL one of my talents is cheesecake baking. I’m willing to try any combination for a client and I’ve never had a complaint. You don’t know until you try what will or won’t work. Luckily you can always eat a cheesecake. lol

Ear Candy Complex In Turquoise 1

7. What is the hardest aspects of being in business in SL? Do you get discouraged ever? What discourages you the most?

Staying positive is tricky for me. There are times when no one is buying. If a few large hunts are running at the same time and you’re not in them, your traffic will be way down. It can get very discouraging. Then someone will send a notecard and thank me for a hunt item or gift in a gift exchange or dollarbie and all’s right with the world. Or someone will pop in and make multiple purchases in a few minutes…well, I can live off that feeling for quite a while. Checking out a blog and seeing my jewelry is way up there too. It’s silly how giddy I get but it’s also sooooo interesting to see it on someone else besides me! I’m all like – hey, I made that. It’s very cool.

8. What single thing do you love the most about your time here in SL? Which poses the greatest challenge for you?

I love to create. Even if I end up throwing it in the trash, I’ve learned something. What you can do with a mouse, a box and a few little sculpyts! It’s incredible! My greatest challenge has to be networking. I spend too much time building and not enough interacting. I’m quiet by nature and that holds me back. I’m working on it but you know what they say about old dogs…

9. What is one thing about you that no-one knows that you think is relevant for them to understand about you?

Ear Candy Silver Hammered Ovals 1

I’m shy not standoffish. Silly I know when I’m already hiding behind an avatar…

10. What advice would you give to someone starting out in SL? If you could start over again what would you do different, if anything?

Ask questions! I really admire the people who sign onto SL without a friend to help them learn the ins and outs. If you’re interested in building, join a builders group to help you. When someone asks for help, people fall all over each other trying to help you learn. There are other groups, too. If you’d like to try building but need free textures there are Midnight Madness groups for builders. If you’re into shopping but don’t have a lot of lindens to spend join one of the freebie groups and check out their blogs. People are more than happy to help, whatever group you decide to join. If only LL would hear our plea for more groups!!

Also take some classes. Builder’s Brewery has beginner’s classes. It’s easier to just sit back and watch someone teach how to build instead of trying by yourself and getting frustrated. You can go back to the classes over and over until you get the hang of it.

One thing I would do over is to keep a better eye on my inventory. It’s so easy to amass things and become overwhelming. I don’t believe in boxing things up to open again later (I know I’m not gonna open that box!!) so I just throw them in the trash. Then I’ll kick myself later. If I could start over I’d put every texture directly into a texture organizer AND also save it to my hard drive first thing. Even using a texture organizer, it’s so hard to find one certain texture when you have thousands. When SL is laggy, there’s little to no hope of the texture organizer working well enough to find anything. So much easier to open a file on your computer and look at those thumbnails. Working that system backwards is taking me forever.

Also, don’t hang on to every item. Try it on. If you absolutely love it keep it. Otherwise throw that puppy away so you don’t have to try it on over and over again. Hey, I need to take that advice myself!

Ear Candy Wood and Copper Squared 1

Maeve is one of a growing number of designers who seem to be considering the cost of items here in SL. She had the idea from the get go to keep her prices in check, but you are seeing a store here and a store there of people who either insist it is all free, or keep pricing reasonable. I think she said it well when she said there is something for every pocketbook. Not everyone who opens a store has to charge the prices they see over the grid. I have heard from several people that they do very well with reasonable prices, they love their customers, and they can look themselves in the mirror. It is really up to you and what you hope to accomplish here. Anything is possible!!

Ear Candy - (also found in the Juicy Sim and several carts around)
Mirror, Mirror
Shadows of Things
Rugs, Art & Décor
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