SL Entrepreneur Profiles: Rusch Raymaker

September 4th, 2008  |  Published in SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SL Entrepreneur Profiles  |  3 Comments


By Sigmund Leominster, News Editor

Rusch Raymaker has been a resident of the Second Life virtual world since March 23rd, 2007. She is the successful owner of AVENUE Inc., a management company overseeing a number of other ventures. A quick glance at the AVENUE Models blog demonstrates the depth and breadth of Rusch’s domain. She has become a very well-known figure in the Second Life fashion industry within a relatively short time. Although she’s always on the go, I arranged to talk to her about her work and after several IMs, she was able to take some time off from her hectic schedule to answer a few questions.

Rusch Raymaker at EXXESS show 7-26-08

(Rusch Raymaker at EXXESS show July 2008)

I started by asking her what her business was all about.

“AVENUE Inc. is a creative management agency that oversees a modeling agency (AVENUE Models), a photography studio and team of eight photographers under AVENUE Studio, and a modeling academy (AVENUE Models Academy). AVENUE is also moving into television production with our first launch TV series on modeling and fashion in Second Life. Our primary clients are fashion designers, photographers, artists, malls and venue owners. With the upcoming TV show, we’ll be having Real Life clients come in as sponsors too.”

As we go to print, the modeling course is now in its fourth intake of aspiring students. The first group will graduate on 3rd September. At the end of the training, the students take away a series of skills and a picture portfolio. Some may even end up on the AVENUE roll. Rusch’s basic methodology is to provide opportunity. “We believe in giving every student a chance to learn about modeling. But if they do not persevere, work hard at it, and demonstrate ability, they will not graduate.”

Curious about financial matters, I asked Rusch about whether modeling is a high-paying career.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that it is one of the highest paying jobs in SL, but it is certainly a fun career. And it’s often rewarding because you get to work with a lot of creative people. A model gets paid decently, but not all agencies pay the same. Sometimes one works for free; but at AVENUE, we always pay as I believe that it’s due recompense for hard work. And of course it’s a given that our models get to keep any clothes, shoes, and accessories they model in. Modeling isn’t going to make one a millionaire unless you diversify and grow within the industry to do other things – like build, be a stylist, do photography, design, teach, event manage, coordinate, write, etc.”

And how did you first hear about Second Life?

“I found out about SL® at a website which mentioned that the Showtime TV series “The L-Word” had a presence there. Being a fan of the series, I decided to come and explore and meet other people that were fans.”

I wanted to know what skills she brought from RL into her SL business. She told me that she is “…an Events Consultant, Photographer and Producer. I will be working closely with the RL company, First Meta, in Singapore. First Meta is the company that has developed SL’s official credit card; the Meta Card. I’ll also be involved with several marketing projects over the next few months. My SL business and work is predominantly my RL work now. I bring over 18 years of RL experience in events and entertainment production, talent management, marketing, advertising, and promotions.”

So are there any particularly promising businesses in SL?

“Anything that relates to an essential for an avatar to distinguish and set their personality and improve interactions with others – namely skins, shapes, animations, AO’s and the burgeoning fashion industry.”

Many businesses fail in the Second Life economy. AVENUE has been around for some time. I asked her what she felt were the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make when they try to operate a virtual business.

Avenue Models Front Facade in Second Life

(Avenue Models Front Facade in Second Life)

“Marketing and promotions are key to every business. This is something that is grossly underestimated, under-utilized, and should be well planned for. SL entrepreneurs often equate PR with high traffic and business numbers, and to some extent this is true. But business owners should realistically and objectively evaluate their product with the competition, conducting adequate research before starting a new business. They should identify a position, a look and a feel for one’s business or organization while having appropriate pricing, and marketing products to and for the right target audience/market.”

I wondered if she had any predictions for the future.

“I think that SL will continue to dominate the virtual world as an interface and platform for demonstrating creativity and for being a creative outlet. I also think the SL fashion industry will continue to grow. And if RL companies spent some serious time understanding how SL can be harnessed as a great marketing and social networking tool by working with those individuals that have truly immersed in the environment and whom have a strong understanding of the workings and PR machinery, then RL brands could make for a greater and more interactive experience in building their brand and relationship with their customers.”

I concluded with my favorite ending – what three pieces of advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

“First, find your niche and develop your unique selling point. Second, network and collaborate – SL is a wonderful place to meet people and collaborate with other creative people. And finally, market and promote your business consistently.”


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