Eboni Khan in Second Life
The 38th video of The Drax Files World Makers arrived on Wednesday, June 8th, focusing on fashion designer Eboni Khan, who has been designing women’s apparel for the last decade, marketing it through her Hucci brand. However, this segment isn’t simply another examination of the creative and income generation opportunities offered by Second Life. While Eboni’s experience is very much central to the video, there is a lot packed into the three-and-a-half-minute running time, which makes this another fascinating piece.
As we learn in the video, Eboni’s ability to use Second Life as a viable means of income generation wasn’t entirely a conscious decision; trained in information management and employed as an IT manager, Eboni’s world was turned upside down when she was laid off. Second Life offered her the means to work for herself and earn an income which would enable her to raise her son (now in his 20s and attending college) – all through the power of her own creativity and that of the micro transaction.
Entering into a virtual business from a physical world business background provides Eboni with a keen awareness of the real power of virtual environments – as spearheaded by Second Life – which is worth considering when looking at things like Project Sansar and understanding where the Lab is coming from with that platform.
Eboni in the physical world
“Second Life has such a low barrier to market entry,” she notes early on in the video. “You don’t have that with any other kind of business; you can come in on your first day and set-up shop. It’s basically the perfect proving ground for international business – the GDP, the amount of residents – Second Life is not a game.”
Of course, setting-up shop does not guarantee anyone of automatic success. Eboni mentions some of the secrets to building a successful brand within the platform, but there is also much more that cannot be packed into 3.5 minutes. Just like real life, running a business in SL requires not just time and effort, but forethought, planning and an evolving strategy.
This is something perhaps demonstrated in 2006-2008, when business from around the world rushed into Second Life without any definitive idea of what they were trying achieve in terms of basic marketing, leave alone trying to generate any revenue. Thus, they ended up tripping over themselves and leaving, dismissing SL as a viable proposition as they went.
The fact that effort and strategy are required is also why I tend to shy away from using the term “democratising” when referring to original content creation as a business enterprise in SL. The term suggest the platform offers a level playing field for everyone, but the reality is it doesn’t; there are skills and requirements involved which, with the best will in the world, not all of us either have or can learn well enough to succeed.
But creativity also doesn’t have to be about generating revenue and income. It’s worked for Eboni and others, because this is the path they chose to take; however, it’s important to remember that Second Life is as much about fun and freedom – escapism, if you will – as it is about anything else. This is something Eboni notes in the video.
“The world will be a better place if more people had a little escapism in their life,” she correctly observes. “Because real life is hard, and your Second Life should definitely be fun.” It’s an outlook those who sit outside SL and sneer at the platform would do well to consider.
She also freely embraces the “sexier” (some – even those who report on SL – might prefer the term “sleazier”) aspects of SL both directly and indirectly. Her designs are unashamedly sexy, whilst her brand name is an open play on the name of a famous design brand and the fact that some dismiss SL as the home of hoochies. This approach, coupled with her views on escapism are refreshing. Second Life offers a huge freedom for people to positively express their individuality away from the constraints which might otherwise be imposed upon us in the physical world, so why not embrace it?
All told, this another fascinating and insightful piece, one which – as with every World Makers segment – but pushed into from the media. I say this not only because of what it says about Second life as a platform, but for what it reveals about virtual spaces being a genuine social environments and being both a melting pot and barrier breaking in the way they bring people together from all of the globe, from all walks of life and social backgrounds. It’s been a massively important (and oft overlooked) aspect of Second Life, and as Linden Lab and other have identified, it will be a significant part of the more immersive VR / AR / MR era we’re about to enter.
It’s’ also, I’m pleased to say, the perfect vehicle by which Drax and I have been able to re-engage in our conversations about each episode of World Makers, which tend to take place as they are being put together, or shortly before going to press with them. Catch our chat on this episode below the video.