SLentrepreneur Profile: Vette DeCuir – “I started SL with no money at all.”

February 27th, 2008  |  Published in SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SL Entrepreneur Profiles  |  1 Comment

Vette DeCuir's business location in second life

When I visited Vette’s Boutique, I was surprised by the small but exquisitely detailed and crafted clothing. A British woman in her early twenties, Vette DeCuir joined Second Life in July 2007 after reading an article about designers applying their knowledge successfully in SL. Ms. DeCuir is studying Fashion and Graphic Design at a British university. She agreed to give an interview to SLEntrepreneur.

SLentre: What gave you the idea of starting your clothing business?

DeCuir: I love looking at in-world fashion—and, like everyone, I started SL with no money at all. I thought I’d make my own clothes, since buying clothing was out of my reach. I got many compliments on the clothes I made, and people were asking where I had bought them. It drove me to create more. When I’d earned enough money through one-to-one sales, I rented a small shop and developed the Vette’s Boutique brand.

Vette DeCuir's business location in second life

SLentre: The collection in your shop is unique compared to other designs in-world. Where do you get your ideas?

DeCuir: I’ve always had a strong interest in design. Reading magazines like Vogue and Pop led me to an understanding of layout and composition and fashion. I’m now studying for a degree in Fashion/Graphic Design. Software is an important part of my course, and I have a good understanding of the software that aids me in making digital versions of my clothing textures.

SLentre: Fashion seems to be THE major industry in Second Life, and residents are willing to spend a lot on it. What are your plans for developing your business?

DeCuir: I feel my business has potential to grow into something huge, but it worries me that it might become less personal and just another commercial store. I guess I like staying true to my roots. I developed the business from nothing and with no RL investment, and I’d like to stay humble to the cause.

As far as profit goes, my original plan was to make enough to cover my SL expenses. I’ve surpassed this. I generate a profit that leaves me in a comfortable position. I have no financial worries so long as I keep my overhead low.

SLentre: Surely you’re talking about SL financial worries?

Haha, yes in SL. I do retrieve my Linden dollars on a regular basis. On a good month, it covers my rent. But I see no reason why, with more time invested in the store, the business couldn’t provide me with a reasonable real-life income.

: Did the recent introduction of Value-Added Tax for European residents put you at a disadvantage?

DeCuir: Yes. I realize any transactions involving Linden dollars will result in a loss when converting to Pounds Sterling. After the 3% transaction fee from Linden Lab and then the PayPal charge and THEN the VAT charge, my profit is significantly lower—but of course this can be expected. I don’t worry too much about the added expense, as I’m grateful that I make a profit at all. I don’t want to be too greedy.

SLentre: Have you ever thought about transferring your creations into the real world? Is that something you would like to do? Can you imagine it being done by a third party?

DeCuir: I would LOVE to expand the Vette’s name out of SL into RL. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than for people to be able to buy and test the clothes in-world and follow up with a purchase in RL. That would be great. I design my clothes so they could be made identically in RL, so I guess its not that far from reality. As in SL, I would like to take on a high amount of responsibility for the brand, purely to retain the credibility of my fashions. Working with a third party with reasonable involvement would be cool.

SLentre: Designers in SL are virtually invisible to the public. A few huge brands supply the majority of residents. What is your approach to marketing?

DeCuir: I HATE guerilla marketing–when people buy a tiny plot of land and build a great big sign saying “teleport to my store.”

SLentre: Ad farms, which have just been banned by Linden Lab (

DeCuir: Right. Genuine advertising such as magazine ad space or designated billboard space is great! I’ve not advertised much, for I’ve found the best form of advertising is word of mouth. When you’re pleasant and interact with customers, you make a great connection and they usually bring people back with them.

SLentre: You have a blog, offer freebies…

DeCuir: The blog gives insight into what customers want to see, but I don’t view it as a means of promotion. I see it as a means of making the shopping experience in SL that little bit more personal, to engage with the customers, which I believe is important. I guess this is a way of marketing, but it’s not the blog’s primary reason. The freebies in store are a great way of attracting people to the store. However, I release freebies purely to make a quality outfit available for citizens who can’t afford to buy clothes. Making outfits available as a good-will gesture gives something back and thanks them for shopping with me.

Vette DeCuir's fashion business location in second life


SLentre: In terms of brand visibility, you seem to take a mixed approach, displaying your line of clothing in a main shop and in satellite shops and vendors.

DeCuir: I found small stores are great to spread the brand name and provide landmarks to the main store. However, they’re tough to manage. I found myself spending hours every day teleporting between stores, checking mail and rent payments. These stores don’t bring in the profit. So once my name had been established, I found it useful to close the smaller stores and spend time working at a central location. It’s this location that brings in the profit for me.

SLentre: Let’s talk about the fashion industry in Second Life. Some designers claim the established fashion suppliers form a cartel, trying to push newcomers out in order to protect their profits. Who would you consider your competition?

DeCuir: (Laughs) Ooohhh… that’s a tough one! I honestly don’t believe I have direct competitors, as I do my own thing. I have a good relationship with many other designers and we help each other out, so I don’t see them as competitors except that basically every other designer out there is a competitor. I also get a lot of positive feedback from other designers, since they can fully appreciate the fashion elements and the workmanship involved in designing and making clothing in SL.

SLentre: Is there a generation gap between established designers and newcomers?

DeCuir: Yes, but I believe it’s mostly due to unfamiliarity with SL and how it works. Everyone has their secrets in making designing easier, and these secrets come with time. I still have a lot to learn. I find myself asking older residents for advice about simple things. It doesn’t matter how well your design skills are; a strong understanding of the tools of SL is essential.

SLentre: Is there a designer you would recommend to SLentre readers?

DeCuir: Oh yes, there is a newish store called DP Serendipity. I totally love her stuff and feel she will make a huge impact over time.

SLentre: Your education and background helped get you started in SL. Do your experiences in building a successful fashion brand in Second Life translate back into your RL?

DeCuir: They have. I feel I’ve learned a lot about business ethics and procedures. I’m not a business student, so everything is new to me. SL business is a gamble, much like RL, since real money goes in and comes out. Trial and error got me where I am now. So I would say SL has prepared me to face the crucial business decisions I will face some day.

SLentre: From an emotional point of view, having a Second Life gives you…

DeCuir: … a sense of achievement! I feel I’ve set up something that works and is successful. I also get a great feeling of opportunity because everyone is rezzed the same; each person has the ability to be whatever he or she desires. I don’t think there are many other worlds that can offer that.

SLentre: Many residents choose to become fantasy beings and immerse fully in the alternative aspects of SL.

DeCuir: Definitely! I think that is a strong appeal to many people. In SL you are judged on your avatar, which can be easily changed or altered. For people who have insecurities, it becomes a place in which to live an alternate life— everyone’s approachable, and anything is possible.

SLentre: You’ve been around for seven months now, and have seen many things change. If you dare to take a look into the crystal ball, what are your predictions for SL?

DeCuir: I think SL will become more strict. There are already court cases and copyright infringements hitting the mainstream media, and this will reflect badly on Linden Lab. Unfortunately, I can also see more commercial involvement from the major players in the business world. I recently visited the Armani sim, which I found completely pointless. I like the amateur appeal of SL. With involvement from real world corporations, that gets lost. But I believe more real-world businesses will take advantage of inexpensive advertising in SL, which will result in business growth.

SLentre editor Peter Stindberg spoke with Vette DeCuir. Her main location Vette’s Boutique, can be found at . Her blog is at


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