Today I talked with Tigerlily Koi, of Calla. Calla is one of Second Life’s most popular hair shops. Run by Tigerlily and Haedon Quine, the company has been in business for a little over a year. From its humble beginnings as Tigerlily Creations in a tiny skybox through its growth to a full sim, Calla has maintained a presence in SL as a generous, collaborative company assisting newcomers to SL, assisting upcoming designers and donating to many charities.

Tigerlily shared her corporate and personal philosophies and business practices with me in an interesting discussion, which appears below.

 

Tigerlily Koi

Liz Pinazzo: Tigerlily, can you please describe what an average day is for you?

Tigerlily Koi: I’m usually here about 3am SLT, with coffee in hand. I go through emails, note cards, that kind of thing. If there’s not too much I have to take care of, I run through the blog feeds to see if anything catches my eye. Sometimes fixing missing item issues and that sort of thing takes a while. The days that it doesn’t, I’ll work on whatever in-progress thing I have going. It’s a series of helping customers with issues, building stuff, finding out why X isn’t working, waiting for something to rez. Building when the grid cooperates.

Liz Pinazzo: I’m sure that’s been challenging this past week with so much down time and inventory problems.

Tigerlily Koi: Ugh, no kidding.

Liz Pinazzo: I’m wondering how that’s affected your business? A lot of people simply haven’t been able to log in.

Tigerlily Koi: The past week specifically, yes! There has been a lot of standing around, not even being able to TP into the shop to help someone. No one on the grid can go anywhere, so it’s been pretty quiet the last week. Probably much the same everywhere I’d guess. A lot of crashing, a lot of people not getting things if they do manage to get in to buy something.

Liz Pinazzo: Has that given you more time to create new designs? Do you do your designing mostly in-world or out of SL?

Tigerlily Koi: It’s actually made me a little nervous to work on too much for fear of it disappearing. Everything I build is done in world, so if the grid won’t let me rez anything, I’m pretty stuck

Liz Pinazzo: I can see how that would be a huge problem. So grid stability is crucial to you.

Tigerlily Koi: Yeah, it can be really frustrating with major issues like these.

 

 

Liz Pinazzo: If you create in SL, how do you strike a balance between business management and time to create? I’d imagine that this week you’ve been spending more time helping customers and problem-solving

Tigerlily Koi: Sometimes there is no balance. Usually though, clearing out whatever’s happened overnight while I was sleeping at least gives me mornings to create. There are typically fewer people on at 3am SLT.

Liz Pinazzo: That’s true – so you have some quiet mornings to focus.

Tigerlily Koi: Yeah, I’ve done quite a bit of standing around doing nothing this week and answering IMs. Then customer service issues usually pick up again in the SLT late afternoons and I get less actual creating done. I hate having to answer questions via IM, it feels impersonal to me. So if I can, I try to TP into the shop to help people.

Liz Pinazzo: So you prefer an in-person approach. I know I’ve seen you in the shop many times myself.

Tigerlily Koi: Yeah, I really like being able to talk one-on-one with customers. That’s really important to me, that they know I’m there and am willing to help.

 

 

Liz Pinazzo: You have a partner, Haedon Quine. How do you split the responsibilities of managing the business?

Tigerlily Koi: We don’t really have any set “I do this, you do this” things as far as every day stuff goes. We both do it all when we’re here.

Liz Pinazzo: Do either of you have areas of expertise where you’re more comfortable spending time working? I know that Haedon was involved in building your original shop, your sky box. Do you also participate in building?

Tigerlily Koi: Haedon rocks the decorating. She does most of that kind of stuff, the decor, the holiday decorations and that kind of thing. She’s much better at it than I am, especially building non-hair things. So I mostly just stand back and let her go.

 

Liz Pinazzo: How nervous were you when you bought the island?

Callatropia Island

Tigerlily Koi: LOL! Ohhhh soooo nervous!

Liz Pinazzo: It’s such a big investment

Tigerlily Koi: It is, and a huge commitment too. If you can’t make tier next month, you’re out that whole island fee. It was one of those “I know we really have to do it” things, but it was really scary at the same time.

Liz Pinazzo: How long have you been there now? Is it a year on the island?

Tigerlily Koi: not quite a year yet. I think February will be a year.

Liz Pinazzo: Ahh ok. So it’s been a while. Are you happy that you made the choice?

Tigerlily Koi: Oh gosh, yes. I love our island. It’s really fabulous. Haedon way outdid herself making it inviting. There are lots of little hidden spots around the island to just sit and think, or answer note cards. It’s a great place to just relax, and hang out.

Liz Pinazzo: I noticed that she incorporated a lot of newbie-friendly areas as well.

Tigerlily Koi: Yeah, we love the noobs.Newbie Camping Area We’ve always been that way. We both think it’s important to help people feel welcome, and to do what we can to make sure they stay and have a great experience.

Liz Pinazzo: Calla seems to be one of the most generous companies. You’re helpful to newbies and you’re also involved in a lot of charity work: Ayeshe’s Angels, Relay for life, the recent Pink Ribbon campaign.

Tigerlily Koi: We do what we can. Here, especially in charity situations, it’s so easy to help. There are really no excuses not to in a virtual world. You have none of the RL excuses, like I have to pick up the dry cleaning, or take the kids to soccer, or…..have a root canal, or whatever, LOL. And it adds up. Even a few L$ adds up quick and makes a big difference.

 

 

Liz Pinazzo: It also seems like you’re involved with helping other designers.

Tigerlily Koi: My personal feeling is we’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter what we create, or the reasons we’re here, this is a community. So helping someone when they need anything is just the right thing to do. And eventually we all need help. If we have a strong community, everyone rallies together for whomever needs it then.

Liz Pinazzo: On your blog, you’ve even discussed some of the pros and cons of designing tools. I’m sure that’s helpful information for new designers

Tigerlily Koi: I think part of that was the Toaster (Editor’s note: the Toaster is a recoloring tool.) had been around a while. But it seemed to have been a closely guarded tool. We spent hours upon hours coloring hair by hand, LITERALLY by hand, because we didn’t know there was any other way. If someone had said “hey there’s this thing….” it would have so improved our ability to spend more time building and bettering our skills.

Liz Pinazzo: And some designers would have kept that a closely guarded secret, but you decided to discuss it publicly.

Tigerlily Koi: I did, I couldn’t have something that awesome in my pocket, that could help SO many people, not just hair designers, but shoes, dresses, anything with prims. It goes back to wishing someone had told us long before. I just don’t see any reason to keep something to myself when it can so greatly benefit others. And if it allows one other designer to spend a few more minutes with something they’d rather be doing RL, like reading a book to their kid, or having dinner out with a friend, I think that’s payment enough.

Liz Pinazzo: That’s a generous philosophy

Tigerlily Koi: I guess maybe these days it is. But it’s just the golden rule. I just do what I’d like other people to do if the situation were reversed.

 

 

Liz Pinazzo: Keeping that in mind, a very hot topic today, and a difficult one to discuss, is copyright and copyright infringement. How do you protect your designs?

Tigerlily Koi: As best we can. There’s unfortunately not a whole lot we can do but try to protect ourselves. We are really careful about setting permissions before anything goes out. I go so far as to not even keep anything full perms in my inventory. If I haven’t made it no trans, it’s in a totally different place.

Tigerlily Koi: All you can really do is double and triple check yourself. If you know you’re doing everything you can, it’s pretty unlikely that something’s going to slip through and allow someone to just copy it and pass it around. Thankfully hair is a little bit different than things like clothing. Mostly it’s a lot of hoping you do everything you can, and not stressing too much about things you can’t control. Like the copybot and all the other things out there. Fight back where you can, and realize when it’s not worth wasting time on.

Liz Pinazzo: That’s a balanced approach to a potentially tough situation

Tigerlily Koi: I’ve had a few run ins where my hair was being sold as a freebie, or in someone else’s lucky chair. Usually the person who’s doing it has no idea they’ve done anything wrong. They were given misinformation (and probably paid for it) somewhere else. I think most people try to do the right thing once approached with the situation.

Liz Pinazzo: That’s my hope too. I have one last question for you. What advice could you give to designers new to SL?

Tigerlily Koi: Probably most important, especially given this last week, don’t give up. The possibilities here are endless. If you can dream it, you can create it. It just takes time, dedication, and knowledge.

Liz Pinazzo: That’s what I love so much about SL Endless possibility.

Tigerlily Koi: It is. That’s something I used to tell my classes when I was an instructor. There is no limit here but yourself.

Liz Pinazzo: Thank you so much for your time today

Tigerlily Koi: You’re so welcome! Thanks so much for having me.

 

Calla may be found at the Callatropia island.

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