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#19 What software do you use?

"Hi, I was wondering what software program you use to make your stuff?"

I'm a long time GIMP girl!  I did try using Inkscape, but it frustrated me more than it helped.  I couldn't afford Photoshop and my sister steered me towards GIMP.  For me it was the perfect solution once I took some classes in SL to learn how to use the program.  But that was just the basics, and it didn't teach much about how to design clothing.  However, it did teach me how to make a shirt, and that was a crucial start for me.  After that, I literally zoomed upward in skills.  It was like those lessons had given me the freedom to finally design what was in my head.

I've used GIMP nearly every day for over three years now.  I know the in's and out's of this program better than any other software I have  I've had people express surprise that it can do the things I've done with it.  My surprise is that anyone would think it couldn't!  It is indeed a free software program, but that doesn't make it a shoddy product.

As an artist I enjoy working on the pixel level at times, and so GIMP works for me.  For other folks, Photoshop may be the way to go when designing digital clothing.  Photoshop does make the resizing of textures easier I'm told, and keeps the picture integrity, but I never did get the hang of working in Inkscape, which is the PS freeware equivalent.  So GIMP was stuck with me.

I really believe it is what you are most comfortable with and enjoy using.  While I wouldn't turn down a free, licensed version of Photoshop, or even Maya (hey, a girl can dream!), for now I'm fastest with GIMP.

You too, can use GIMP!  Go to that link to download the program.

Builder's Brewery in Second Life gives some free GIMP classes. 

There is also GIMPsters, which is a group.  The head of that group, Cala and her partner Ima, gave me valuable lessons.  It does cost money to take the 10 week course, but it is well worth it if you're serious about wanting to learn GIMP applications in SL.

And that's me and software . . . so far!

#18 Where can I buy that in real life?

"Hi, I saw (insert item name here) and would love to purchase it in real life!  Can you tell me where it came from?"

I've actually had this request more than one would think for digital clothing!  I'm always surprised and flattered when it happens.  Having said that, let me add, drop me an email and we'll discuss it.  Sometimes I can indeed tell you were to purchase some item in the real world.  :-)  But that rarely happens!  The majority of items I make are based on museum held pieces, or pieces in private collections.  I also add my own touch to pieces, so they might not be exactly the same in the real world.

I might be able to help you track down a version of the real item for sale, but if I do, please be aware that the item may be very expensive.  I really don't do cheap.  I've tried but dang it, I pick the most expensive nearly every time!  I think that's because quality shows and lasts over the decades, or even centuries.  My fav saying in regard to antique or vintage anything?  Ugly is still ugly, even after a couple of hundred years!

#17 Pricing suggestions

Dear Miss Tomsen,

I can barely make gloves & know a lot of research and skill goes into your finely crafted and complete outfits .

I can only speak for myself but at 400L I would buy a ton of your releases --750--800 and that is close to tier and I stop myself

If your sales of the older discount items show an increase in sales I hope you will consider lowering prices or having 2 for 1 sales .

How you wish to be positioned in the market is of course your decision and I respect that . I do know a lot of girls in my fashion groups talk about the same price points .

A frugal fashion plate

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

I thought of so many replies for this good lady that it took me a while to settle on one. My final thought is, you get what you pay for. It's really that simple.

But of course I have to say a bit more!

If I were to do 400 linden gowns, you would get a top, a bottom, a system skirt, and perhaps a prim skirt and that's it. No undergarments, no gloves or shoes or hats or stoles or other little things that make up a Curious Seamstress outfit.

When a lady buys something from me she's buying elegant designer quality. Not everyone can afford a Curious Seamstress new release. For those ladies there is the reduced rack with gowns from a few years ago. Please check the reduced rack posting for more details.

Charles Worth or any of the other many designers I've written about over the last three years didn't lower prices so that more people could buy from them. You could either afford it or you could not. If you could not, then you went to a dressmaker you could afford to buy from or you saved your coins for that one special gown that you wore with joy and pride on special occasions for the rest of your life.

That's really just the way it is in any world, virtual or real. So for those frugal fashionistas out there, I point you towards the reduced rack or other dressmakers with prices more in your range. There are many wonderful designers across the grid at many price points. Each of us has our own unique talents and skills and I'm sure you'll find other fantastic dressmakers out there.

For my regular customers . . . have you seen the latest release yet?

#16 The Reduced Rack and sales!

Hi Kembri, I love your clothing, but it is so expensive! Do you ever have sales?

Once a year I have a sale. I do not believe in screaming sales all the time, luring in with a couple of cheap items, and hoping you'll then buy out the store. What I will do is have a sale once a year, usually in the late summer. At that time I do a whole store sale for a week, then that's it until the following year.

This year I have started the Reduced Rack. This is a single pane vendor with a purple frame that you will find in every Curious Seamstress shop. The gowns in this vendor are from the 2008-2009 season. There is nothing wrong with them, they just happen to be my oldest gowns and I've gotten much better at my craft since then!

I decided long ago that I would eventually start putting past season clothing on sale, and 2011 is the year I started doing so. The gowns in the Reduced rack run $400 linden dollars per gown as opposed to the current $795 lindens for 2011 season gowns.

#15 - Teaching what I know

"Hi, I love your work and I was wondering if you'd teach me how to do what you do? Thanks!"

I am so flattered when I'm asked this question. It means someone loves what I do so much they want to do it themselves and possibly sell their own versions. I've thought about it and really, there's a few things to know and do to start doing what I do.

1) Take building classes in Second Life. Any class, all classes. I spent nearly a year going to any building class I could find, from boats to houses to jewelry. Each class teaches you something new and useful that you may eventually need for making clothing.

2) Learn some type of image manipulation program. Gimp, Photoshop, Inkscape, whatever you can afford and have handy, learn it. You'll need this to create your own clothing and textures.

3) Find the Second Life clothing templates by either Chip Midnight or Robin Sojourner. You'll need those so you can line up the clothing seams correctly.

4) Check out clothing making tutorials on Youtube for Second Life. It helps a lot.

5) Be totally ethical and never, ever steal someone else's work or images from the web. Know the law and the facts. If you hope to grow a business, then you must be ethical because your name and reputation are on the line. For example, I never use the work of a living designer, nor of any designer after the 1920s. There are some designers I will never touch, like Dior or Chanel. These are living fashion Houses and one does not mess with the legalities of copyright infringement or IP a.k.a intellectual property infringement. Do realize that there are REAL legal consequences for screwing with such things. Be ethical and honorable. It will serve you well in the end.

6) Realize that breaking into the fashion selling gig in Second Life takes as much work as it does in real life! So now you've practiced for hours and hours, you've got your packaging down, you know what genre of clothing you love and want to sell. Now, you have to find a place to sell it. Look around your favorite RP sims, try to stay away from malls, depending on what you sell. Utilize Marketplace and put your items up there. Always present a professional appearance in both your packaging and your goods.

Figure on two or three years to get a 'name' in the fashion circles. It's hard work, but if you really want it you'll succeed. You'll have to build up stock and be religious about releasing items on a fairly routine basis. You'll also have to have consistant, realistic pricing for what you offer. You'll have to figure rents, advertising, and other expenses into your budget. Above all, you must be true to your own style and your own vision for your brand.

And that's my lecture for today!

I wish you much luck on your journey into the fashion jungles of Second Life.

FAQ # 14 Cash Refunds

I want my lindens back now!

I had that shouted at me recently. Let me state here as I have before, I do not refund for buyer's remorse.

Now I'll broaden that to, I do not refund cash, period. It is not an unreasonable stance to take and many large real world department stores have the same policies.

If we have an issue, if I feel you do indeed deserve some kind of remuneration, I will issue a gift card for the amount.

I will not refund lindens with one exception. IF you have purchased two exact dresses within a minute of each other IN WORLD at one of my vendors, and IF you can return to me a packaged gown completely intact, then I will refund you the amount of that gown purchase.

That is the ONLY time I will do cash refunds, and I have to be able to verify the purchases through my transaction and vendor records. If necessary, I will also contact LL to verify said purchases.

If you cannot meet that standard, then don't ask for a refund. I dislike sounding harsh, but I also dislike people trying to scam me, and it has happened.

If you make two purchases on Marketplace because the first didn't deliver in a timely manner to you, then take it up with Linden labs, and not myself. For more details on that please see FAQ #13.

Let me state it again, I will not refund cash.

I value my customers and always wish to do what is right by them.

I would hope that the feeling is mutual.

FAQ # 13 Marketplace Mis-delivery

I ordered an item from you on Marketplace, but did not receive it! or I bought the same dress twice from you, now I want a refund because the first never showed up!

These are both delivery issues I've had to deal with, and it got bad enough that I recently contacted Linden Labs about the issue. 99% of the time I show that the item delivered to the customer. I get a confirmation each time an item goes out of my Marketplace server box and is sent to the customer. You might not get it, but at that point it is no longer my problem. I'm not trying to be unreasonable, but I'm not giving out transferable goods for nothing because of a glitch some place.

So if you have bought an item on Marketplace and did not get a delivery of it, then go to the Second Life website, find the customer support page, and file a ticket about the missing items. I will no longer replace them, as this really is an SL asset server issue and they are better equiped to handle this. You will eventually get the item, I was assured of this by the customer service rep I spoke with. If you bought it, it will come.

FAQ # 12 Gift Cards - Clothing as gifts

Do you have gift cards?

Why yes, I do. I will soon have them out for sale in one corner of the store. The values start at 750 and range upwards. They are hippovend, wear and use cards. If you need one and you don't see them out at Rosewood yet, then please drop me a notecard and we'll chat.

How can I gift an outfit?

You have a few options. The vendors allow the purchase of an item as a gift, you'll see that on the bottom. You can also buy the outfit and give it as a gift as in person as all clothing is transferable for that very reason! Third, you can buy off of Marketplace and have it sent as a gift to someone else.

FAQ #11 - Odd looking prims

Dear Kembri, I have one of your outfits, and one of the prims looks like a color map, can you help me?

This one perplexed me for a bit, but all I can say is it has to be the viewer. If you are using a third party viewer, then chances are it's borking the prim textures some how. Now I'd be more prone to think it was my fault if it had been a new gown, but the gown in question has literally sold hundreds of copies and never had a problem. At that point I have to look at the customer's viewer and question that. Do contact me, and I will try to sort it out. Failing that, I will send you in search of your viewer's maker, letting them know there's an issue.

FAQ #10 Flappy skirts?

Kembri, the skirt I bought from you looks like it's going to flap away on a high wind, what can I do?

Contact me. Drop a notecard with your name and the name of the outfit. We'll go from there!

FAQ #9 What about freebies?

How come you don't do weekly freebies and lucky chairs and 69 linden Fridays?

Well, I could, but then I'd be working for free and never have anything ready for sale. Now that might sound good to you, but I'm sure you'll understand if I say that there are things that need to be paid for. Like tier, and electricity, and food and real shelter and spiffy things like that! Occasionally I do put a freebie out, but I don't put out junk or cheapness. I try to give my freebies as much love and attention as I do my regular work. Why? Because the represent me and my style of work to anyone who happens to have them. So I want it to be the best bit of my work that it can be.

I don't do lucky chairs because I don't want people camping in my store for an outfit. I do not care if that boosts numbers. I wish people to come and enjoy and shop and relax. Not hover mindlessly over lucky chairs. :-) Having said that, I may occasionlly put out some kind of holiday thing for a day or a weekend with freebies in it, but one never knows!

FAQ # 8 - Commissions

I have this great idea for a gown and wondered if you would make it?

I do occasionally take commissions. However, that's expensive for you if I accept it. I never charge less than 10k lindens, and depending on what it is and who you are, I may not give you a full perm item either.

I do not do modern items that may be taken from modern designers such as Dior, Laggerfield, Chanel, etc. There are all kinds of legal issues with such actions.