SLentrepreneur Profile: Drama Dolls Creator Honour McMillan

December 17th, 2009  |  Published in SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SL Entrepreneur Profiles  |  2 Comments

Honour McMillan nominated for SLENTRE.COM's SLentrepreneur of the Year Award 2009

Honour McMillan, creator of SL’s Drama Dolls was nominated for the SLentrepreneur of the Year Award 2009. She has great insight for SL entrepreneurs and was generous enough to share her thoughts with SLENTRE.COM in this recent interview.

How long have you been in SL? Why did you come?

I first arrived inworld in May, 2007. At the time I spent some of my work hours doing environmental scans looking for innovations in online activities and I kept stumbling on Second Life. I was intrigued because I’m not a “gamer” but Second Life was different. The idea of a virtual world that was created by its users appealed to me.

What Second Life business activities do you engage in?

I have two primary businesses. Aintree Gardens ( was my original endeavor and grew out of my desire to learn how to build. I’m a gardener in real life and decided I would try and create something I already loved. I learned a lot by trial and error but the results eventually proved worthwhile.

Honour McMillan nominated for SLENTRE.COM's SLentrepreneur of the Year Award 2009

The newest business, and the more relevant one, is Drama Dolls ( A friend was going through the “post breakup” blues and I wanted to give her a voodoo doll to allow her to work out her feelings, but nothing existed which matched my intentions. Looking around I realized that there is, of course, a lot of drama in SL and I decided to utilize the functionality the world offers and create something new. I worked with a brilliant scripter, Cris Lefavre, and created interactive and animated dolls representing many iconic types in SL. You give the Doll the name of the person who has harmed you in some way, tell them all your grievances and ‘listen’ to them squirm in chat. Then you demand an apology and get one before your Doll meets a dramatic end (suitable punishment for harming you). There is no real harm caused in the process but there is humour and a catharsis for the person who wants to move past their hurt. I think this is a better option than stalking or public scenes.

I also wanted to create a positive type of doll so we made the Doll Cozy. This is an animated Doll you use to pass a personal message and a hug to your friend/lover/partner/spouse.

What is your RL profession?

For many years I worked as a management consultant. I took early retirement last year so now SL is my only profession. :)

Discuss your SL Business, Business model, profit margin, who are your primary clients, monthly expenses, etc.

When I created Drama Dolls I knew that there would have to be an investment in time and money to make the idea happen. I spent considerable time thinking through those things I thought would be needed to make it a success. They include:

* Ensuring that the market was as large as possible: These are interactive Dolls with varying lengths of dialogue and it didn’t make sense to have them only work and speak in English. I hired Babel Translations to translate that dialogue and all of the HUD interface, instructions and marketing material into 9 other languages. Having a product that can be used in 10 languages expands the potential market significantly.
* Pricing the Dolls for the market not my ego: We spent 3 months developing the first group of Dolls and if I’d wanted to earn back that investment in each Doll very few people would have been able to afford them. I created Dolls in 4 ranges and priced them low enough that the cost would not be a barrier to a purchase.
* Packaging the Dolls generously: The Drama Dolls are unique in Second Life in part because you “use them up”. Once a Doll has met its end, it is gone and no longer in your inventory. For this reason when you buy a Doll you get three scripted copies and one unscripted “souvenir version”. I wanted people to feel they had received their money’s worth.
* Being flexible but responsible: I will do custom Dolls although I reserve the right to refuse. I won’t create a Doll I think will be used to publicly ridicule somebody and I price the custom work high enough to ensure the sincerity of the request (although I still might say no).
* Continuous improvement: I go through the inventory regularly and make changes that will improve the quality of the Dolls. It’s important not to believe that something is already “perfect” and can’t be made better.
* Having patience: It’s not easy to introduce something completely new to Second Life. Search isn’t going to help potential customers find you if they don’t know the search terms and I recognized that it was going to take considerable time for people to learn about Drama Dolls and find them. Bloggers can help but a very small percentage of residents read them. However getting new items out through the Designer Shopping Network and Hunts is a good way to spread the word. A brand new product (not just a brand new version of existing products) will require time to achieve the critical mass of market awareness you need.

Having Aintree Gardens as an existing business helped support Drama Dolls as it grew. The tier on the island still needed to be paid and Aintree allowed me to finance that period where patience is all you have. :)

Honour McMillan nominated for SLENTRE.COM's SLentrepreneur of the Year Award 2009

Is your business growing?

Yes, I’m pleased to say it is. The feedback is terrific and more and more people are discovering the Dolls every day.

Does your sl business impact or influence your rl?

Only that I spend a great deal of time inworld so my RL is very aware of what I’m doing. :)

any RL skills translate into SL business?

Of course! Planning, budgeting, marketing, quality control and more. Everything you’ve learned about business in RL will be put to use in Second Life.

What is the most promising industry for new business in sl?

I may be alone in this but I think the largest untapped rl opportunity for business in SL is in manufacturing and design. I don’t think the main grid will be the logical place, but using SLE for prototyping and design walkthroughs will be a huge boon for business once they start realizing the potential ease and cost savings.

What types of businesses shouldn’t come into sl and why not?

At this stage, any business hoping to achieve RL brand awareness or brand loyalty should not be trying to achieve it through SL. If they want to contribute and help grow the SL community that’s great. But hoping to achieve real life sales as a result is a mistake. Maybe at some point in the future when the two lives are more integrated, but not now.

What is your opinion on rl business in sl, how will it effect the community?

If it’s a business like Orange, that created a community orientated space which involved people and facilitated the sharing of skills and knowledge, the impact is positive and great. It would be wonderful if others did that but I doubt many will see it as a justifiable expense. The major effect I think will be from SLE. Businesses will start demanding functionality which will then be transferred to the main grid – I think we’ll see major leaps forward once SLE starts gaining traction.

What are the biggest mistakes sl entrepreneurs make?

I’ll refer back to my business model. I don’t think you can expect to succeed by just doing what every body else is doing, by targeting a very narrow market or by being impatient for success.

Any predictions about the future for sl? new technology? growth? new potential uses?

My crystal ball is in the shop for repair at the moment. :) I will say that we should all be trying to learn new skills as much as possible. Learning how to use tools like Maya would be very smart right now. In addition we should be thinking of new marketing concepts – to reach across the grids and communities. I believe at some point we will have metaversal avatars with one inventory which can travel between the worlds/grids. We’ll get there in stages but the first step will be taking our products to multiple grids and not allowing content thieves to do it for us.

What does having a second life give you?

Access to the rest of the world. I have friends from countries thousands of miles away; I attend concerts by live musicians in places I’ll never visit; I can share in the creations and traditions of cultures I haven’t encountered in RL. I love the fact that I can build in Second Life. But without the presence of the rest of the world it wouldn’t be enough to keep me here.

Is there an element of fantasy or escape?

Of course there is – my avatar is in much better shape than I am. I can’t dance for hours without sweating. :)

Will sl change the landscape of business as we know it today? will it change any landscape…cultural, social, etc?

The very fact that you have to take the world into consideration means that all landscapes are changing. Hundreds of thousands of people now know what it’s like to interact with the whole globe. Many many more will be influenced by them. Business, politics, social landscapes will change whether they want to or not. It will be gradual and many won’t even see it happening, but the real world won’t be the same ever again.


  1. SLENTRE.COM» SL Entrepreneur 2009: And the nominees are… says:

    January 27th, 2010at 2:41 pm(#)

    […] Firefly Patty Cores Honour McMillan Peter Stindberg Ayesha Lytton John Zelnik Steve Cropper Xion Hax Lissa Maertens Truman Laryukov, […]

  2. SLENTRE.COM» SLentrepreneur of the Year 2009: And The Winner Is… says:

    March 2nd, 2010at 5:02 pm(#)

    […] runners up included Honour McMillan in 3rd place and Patty Cortes in a close […]