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There is a distinct lack of ethnic clothing designers in Second Life. Yet, Indian dresses are among the most detailed and beautiful you will find. Aradhana Voight is taking steps to change this and judging by her well stocked shops, she is doing a darned good job. I caught up with her this week to see where the inspiration behind her creations comes from and what she thinks about Second Life’s slowness to embrace Indian clothing.

Harriet Gausman: Have you been a part of Second Life for long? Would you have ever envisioned yourself taking the designing route and making a name for yourself?

Aradhana Voight: I am an SLer since 16th dec 2006, and I was a real shop-a-holic. Always hunting for beautiful things if not clothing then furniture for my little house. I never thought of starting a store myself.

Harriet Gausman: Other than camping and getting to know how your avatar moves, what other things did you get up to in the first few weeks of rezzing? When did you actually begin designing and making things?

Aradhana Voight: Oh, first thing I got obsessed with was adjusting the features of my avatar. And after that making a nice dress (what I thought was nice at that time) in appearance. Starting in SL I wasn’t alone because my friend Rohit came along, I hated the game and he was explaining me how to do the things in world. When I saw a few avies with ‘bling bling’ I found out that you can shop in sl! And then I started loving it in here. I started designing in April 2007. I was playing around in Photoshop after getting the templates, and my friend said that I should start a shop in sl.

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Harriet Gausman: What do you do in real life? How has this prepared you for your role in Second Life? Have you had to learn many new skills?

Aradhana Voight: Haha, I learned everything in SL because I enjoy it. I am a Medical Student in RL. But always into dressing up and doing a bit of make up, even when going to a wedding or party I help others with their dress or my mom with her make up..and they always get compliments. But I also like to wear simple and trendy clothing. Besides that I used to draw quite good, I think that helped me out.

Harriet Gausman: Where does the name Mashooka come from and what does it mean? I know there was a recent Bollywood movie released called Mashooka but I am curious as to its direct meaning.

Aradhana Voight: When I decided to start with a shop I wanted a name to represent a feminine, sensual and romantic mood. Mashooka means mistress, but naming the word already gives a warm feeling. And wearing a Mashooka design should give a sensual and glamorous feeling. And the movie yes, I didn’t see it but heard the song in the car of my brother, and looked it up on youtube – nothing special.

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Harriet Gausman: Where do you gain your inspiration from?

Aradhana Voight: The inspiration comes from my own mood and what I would like to wear, every woman has periods of wearing short skirts to feel sexy or just to wear jeans to feel comfortable. That is the way I work, what do I feel to make today and look good to wear. And inspiration I can get from my own wardrobe, from Indian, evening wear to casual and very trendy. But I also look into fashion magazines (also Indian) to look up what the trend is.

Harriet Gausman: Do you have an individual in mind when you design? Who do you hope will buy your clothes?

Aradhana Voight: The only individual in mind is myself, would I like to wear it RL?

Harriet Gausman: Some of your gowns are highly intricate in design. How long do they take to design and make?

Aradhana Voight: It also depends on how much time I am able to spend on working on a dress, but the overall work can be from 3 days, 2 weeks to a few months… But the last period counts only for my bridal dress on which I had to make additional prims and jewelry. My latest Indian designs, the sixties saree and the bindiya collections took me about 2 weeks to finish.

Harriet Gausman: In terms of design, which piece has been the most difficult for you?

Aradhana Voight: Then I choose my latest saree style, back to the sixties, which was hard to make in Photoshop and the prim skirt wasn’t working either..

Harriet Gausman: You have a mix of both western and Indian style dress but I can see that a lot of your gowns are influenced by the Bollywood movies. What made you choose this style of clothing?

Aradhana Voight: I really don’t make Bollywood clothing, when wearing a designer saree it isn’t called a Bollywood dress. I am trying to show that Indian Clothing can also be high fashion and trendy.

Harriet Gausman: I find it hard to believe that there are so few Indian clothing stores in Second Life. Why do you think that might be? Are you taking any steps to change this?

Aradhana Voight: I think the demand for Indian clothing is too low. And with Indian clothing it is difficult to make an original piece, you have a high chance on making the same thing over and over only the textures change. And if someone buys an Indian dress why buy a second one, only because the texture isn’t the same. No, people want to have different unique dresses and that is too hard to accomplish with Indian clothing. I think I am already bringing the change by showing that indian clothing is not only simple or with the general kind of textures, but also highly fashionable wear and you can go out in a stylish saree instead of a ballroom gown.

Harriet Gausman: What’s next for Aradhana Voight?

Aradhana Voight: Everything that will be a challenge, maybe clothing, building, more skins… I can’t tell.

Harriet Gausman: Any tips for new designers starting out in Second Life?

Aradhana Voight: It is hard to set up a name in this commercial world, and an important thing is to be original and not imitating and copying others. Designing should mean that you are happy with what you have made.

Harriet Gausman: If there is one thing that you could do to make it better in-world, what would it be?

Aradhana Voight: : Make this world less commercial, but that can only happen when the price of sims are lower.

Visit Mashooka Designs today.

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