My introduction to Caelan Hancroft was on Plurk where Second Lifers have found a new community outside of SL®. I read her blog and was excited to see her make the leap from blogger to designer, particularly when her choices filled a void in the jewelry market. There were many jewelers producing luxurious gems designed for the most formal occasions. There were also s few jewelers creating avant-garde designs, modern chunky jewelry and naturalistic hippie designs, but what about the more everyday to semi-formal jewelry. While there were a few, there was definitely some wide open spaces in the jewelry market. Since then, she has gone from success to success and is now a go-to jeweler for many of us.
It’s Only Fashion: What was your first day in Second Life® like? What made you stick it out through the learning curve?
Caelan Hancroft: My first day was in early December 2007 when I was given an assignment to research Second Life for work. One of our directors had seen SL mentioned in an article and suggested we look into it. I logged in and wandered around Orientation Island and a few other sims to finish up my report and then logged out. I thought I was done. I’ve never been a gamer and was always bored immediately after the character creation process of most games, but I was a new mom with limited opportunities to socialize and thought SL could be a social “fix” so I logged back in. At the time I started, Last Call was having its 100L closing sale and I quickly discovered Celestial Studios and ETD so I managed to skip the super-awkward noob phase (at least for 2007).
IOF: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in Second Life? Most exciting? Silliest?
CH: The craziest thing is also one of my most exciting – opening my store. For me, opening my store was putting myself out there – it’s crazy, exciting, and scary at times! You really have to be ready to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly from people. On top of opening my store, there’s a long list of exciting things including: my first sale, seeing my jewelry out in the wild/on a blog/on a fellow creator’s vendor ad, being invited to my first event, and outgrowing my original store and making the move to a larger one that I feel reflects my personality and creations. I’ve had a lot of silly moments in SL since 2007. For a while I had this bratty AO. It was super fun to wear and was always good for a giggle. It was even more fun when combined with the rabbit or hamster avatars from Arcade.
IOF: When did you begin creating? What was the first thing you made. Did you save it? Did it work?
CH: I started learning to create mesh in June 2012. I was in a SL and blogging rut and was on the verge of throwing in the towel. A good friend pushed me to try creating mesh which was a much needed challenge.. My first creation was kind of the mesh equivalent of the shop class ashtray – a submarine from a Blender tutorial. It was more about technique than style or function. After a whole bunch of tutorials and a lot of tears and swearing, my first actual creation for SL was a starfish necklace that became part of my store’s first collection.
IOF: How did you choose your store name? Does it have a special meaning for you? If your stores is named after yourself, how did you go about choosing your avatar name?
CH: I wish I had a super-creative way that I chose Caelan as my avatar name, but honestly, I got it from a baby name website. I have an incredibly difficult time naming things, so much so that I’m surprised my son even has a name!
IOF: What is the most challenging part of being a creator in Second Life? What is most rewarding?
CH: For me, the rewards may not outnumber the challenges, but they certainly outweigh them, so I will start with those first. I think that most creators would say – and I’m no different – that the most rewarding part of being a creator is seeing people actually wearing my work. Out in the wild, on a blog, on a vendor ad… Just seeing someone else enjoying what I’ve made really makes it all worth it. Talking to my customers and getting to know them has been a joy as well. As for challenges… First, there’s Second Life itself. There’s nothing that I hate more than to point fingers at SL when something isn’t working because I feel like it’s the easy way out, but hey, sometimes SL freaks out and it is what it is. Then, there’s Blender and mesh. Oh my goodness it gets frustrating at times and I swear (literally) that I’ve been swapped with a sailor.
I get inspiration from everywhere – jewelry that I’ve always wanted or ideas from friends, customers, the internet. There was also a very exciting martini-fueled covert operation involving me taking a picture of a store display with my iPhone while on vacation in Las Vegas.
IOF: How do your first and second life design aesthetics resemble and contrast with each other?
CH: Most of my SL creations are things that I would wear in real life. I prefer fine jewelry over fashion jewelry and stick to a couple of pieces and wear the heck out of them. I think most of my creations reflect that. Lately I have been branching out with some chunkier pieces and collars based on some feedback and suggestions from customers. They’re a bit more challenging for me, but I love feedback from my customers and am willing to try anything.
IOF: How would you describe your design aesthetic? Who is your customer – the person you are thinking of when you design?
CH: My jewelry pieces for the most part are wearable, everyday pieces that will go with pretty much anything from casual to formal. Most of my pieces will resize small enough for the toddler and petite avatars and I feel like all of this combined makes for a pretty broad target audience. I’ve also tried to add value to my customer’s purchase by including a “fatpack” style HUD with most of my creations. This gives a piece multi-part texture changing which really allows the customer to tailor their jewelry to their outfit.
IOF: One of the challenges of creating is Second Life is dealing with IP theft and the DMCA process. Many of those problems are due to flaws in the DMCA legislation itself. What changes within the control of Linden Labs that you would like to see?
CH: I am fortunate that I have not had to personally deal with the DMCA process. As an observer, I’m not sure what changes Linden Lab could make without there first being changes to the DMCA laws. Currently, LL is really just doing what it needs to do to protect itself.
IOF: How has your second life changed your first life?
CH: Second Life has challenged me to develop a different skillset that I probably wouldn’t have developed otherwise. It’s been a creative outlet and has definitely been a learning experience. SL kind of complements my first life as I still have a “day job” that I love managing a team of “minions” as we try to take over the Internet.
IOF: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
CH: I would like to thank my friends and customers for their kindness and support over the past few years. Without their encouragement, feedback, and occasional kick in the ass, I’m pretty sure Cae wouldn’t have lasted a year, let alone two.