Lavea Alter has a longer history in Second Life® than many may first realize. She opened a store years ago called A-Bomb which featured a lot of retro clothing before taking a sabbatical from SL. When she returned, she opened a new store, starting from scratch with Fission where her retro rockabilly style continues to shine.
It’s Only Fashion: What was your first day in Second Life like? What made you stick it out through the learning curve?
Lava Alter: A friend who played begged me for weeks until I finally agreed to play. My learning curve was pretty easy since I had someone to show me the ropes. The first thing she did was take me to buy some hair, and I was thrilled to get a purple bob!
IOF: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in Second Life? Most exciting? Silliest?
LA: I don’t feel like I’ve done anything really crazy, but my brand of silly normally involves me putting on questionable items found in the dark corners of marketplace for the amusement of others. As for the most exciting, it was probably opening up that first mainstore of A-Bomb several years ago. I zoomed my view out and stared at it for at least an hour with a huge smile on my face.
IOF: When did you begin creating? What was the first thing you made. Did you save it? Did it work?
LA: I start creating not too long after I came in-world in 2007. I think the first thing I made was a black sleeveless pencil dress with a skull on it…all system layers. I don’t think I saved it, but I’m sure there is a picture of it somewhere.
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?
LA: Fission is a word play on the name of my original shop, which was A-Bomb. I closed A-Bomb a couple of years ago and when I returned to SL, I decided to start with a new shop name.
IOF: What is the most challenging part of being a creator in Second Life? What is most rewarding?
LA: Marketing is definitely the hardest part of having an SL business. When you create something, there is a part of you that is concerned or nervous about how it will be received by others. However, you have to try to put that insecurity aside to then market the creation. It’s a bit strange! The most rewarding part is getting that positive response you hope for, whether it is from someone buying your creation or blogging. Every sale or blog post thrills me…honestly.
IOF: Where do you get inspiration for your designs? What is your process like?
LA: As someone who uses templates, my inspiration starts with the mesh item. I may do a Google search for things that are similar to get ideas or I may just play around with different fabrics, patterns, etc. to see how they work with the mesh. I rarely ever end up with the final product looking anything like I originally intended. The idea just tends to change as I work on it.
IOF: How do your first and second life design aesthetics resemble and contrast with each other? How would you describe your design aesthetic? Who is your customer – the person you are thinking of when you design?
LA: I’m definitely more dressed down in RL, preferring jeans and tees to dresses. I have always gravitated towards 1930s to 1950s styles in dresswear, though. I’d say my aesthetic leans toward retro, but I love all sorts of styles.
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?
LA: I really think the Lab needs to have at least one employee dedicated to investigating IP theft. I’ve seen items up inworld and on Marketplace that a clear violations of real life trademarks which are not taken down despite being reported, but inworld stores may have their work immediately removed without investigation because someone filed a DMCA against them. Their handling of IP theft is far too uneven.
IOF: How has your second life changed your first life?
LA: I’ve met a lot of people that I really like and respect. It’s also given me a creative outlet and in the process, I’ve learned a few things!
IOF: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
LA: The beauty of Second Life is that it is what you make of it. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that!