A lesson I learned early on in my SLife was: do not shop late at night. It turned out that my late-night shopping trips were mostly regrettable the next day. However, there have been rare mornings when I have been amazed by my find and have returned. PurpleMoon Creations was such a find, late at night, with a dear friend who is taking an extended break from SL, Luzy Nitely. And if you know anything about me and my taste, you know that I like wild hair, which is what attracted me to the outfit above – my first purchase at PurpleMoon. I have repeatedly been impressed by the good quality and the reasonable prices at the store. It was also the place that restored my trust in Member Gifts where they are truly gifts, not left-overs from a build that went wrong. Yes, yes, my PM folder in my inventory is fairly large.
PurpleMoon, which opened its doors in 2009, is celebrating two years of fashion this month. There could not be a better occasion to seek out the creator, Poulet Koenkamp, to learn more about the mind behind the design. She has been particularly busy recently because she just opened BohoRoom, a room adjacent to PurpleMoon, dedicated to more casual bohemian style. Poulet was kind enough to give me time amid her busy schedule. She is friendly, funny, and down-to-earth.
Leda Carter: Thanks so much for your time, Poulet. Before we start talking about PurpleMoon, tell us, who is Poulet?
Poulet: I am a 37 year old woman, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am a teacher and a graphic designer. I like to bake muffins and look after my plants. I moved to Canada a year and a half ago, because I fell in love. I have a wonderful family in Argentina, and now I am “building” my own here in Canada. My favorite movies are Amelie and Avatar. I love romance, simple stories, and fantasy. I love Norah Jones, whom I listen to pretty much all the time. I usually wear very casual clothes in RL, like t-shirts and runners, and never wear make up. But, if I have a special event, I love to get all dressed up with high heels, make-up, jewels, and all that stuff. My weakness is bags; I have way more than I can handle.
Leda: And yet, you get all of us addicted to fancy clothes! I see how this works, hehe. Congratulations on the second year anniversary of PurpleMoon. How did the store come into existence? Did you start designing in SL from the early days?
Poulet: I was born in Second Life as a builder. After a couple of days of creating my account, I rezzed my first prim, sat on it, and thought: “I made a chair!” It still makes me smile when I remember that; it was the day that I realized the wonders of SL. There was something true about SL that I read in one newspaper; it said that you could “create” and that’s the magic word that caught my attention. The endless possibilities of creation – that’s how I opened my first shop of furniture, followd by houses and trees, and anything that I could make with prims. I got involved in artist projects, such as “Not Possible in Real Life” and “Burning Life.” Those events fed my soul in a way that I cannot explain. All of this is to say that one day I got invited to be part of a fashion design challenge. I thought to myself: “why not? I have done so many things and I have not tried this.” Challenges, I love them.
Dress: PM Alice in Champagne; Hair: PM Exa in midnight brown; Jewelry: Donna Flora Irene; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
That’s how PurpleMoon was born – as a little project with my best friend SilverMoon Indigo. After the invitation to the fashion design challenge, I did very well getting to the finals. I was so encouraged by both the response and the fun of designing clothes that I decided to give it a try. Since then, we have been growing and growing. For the first anniversary, I decided to rebuild the store from the floor to the ceiling , a place where customers can feel comfortable, listen to some relaxing tunes, enjoy a never-ending sunset (the sim has been set that way on purpose), and shop without fainting about the price – and to keep offering a diversity of designs that would please different tastes and styles.
Leda: Did you have any building skills when you started in Second Life?
Poulet: I am a graphic designer in RL, which gave me most of the technical aspects already. But, even knowing how to use those tools, there is a long process of learning to use templates, to visualize how your designs will look in SL once you upload them, to deal with some limitations in the design, as well as exploring the aspects that would be impossible in RL. It has been a long road of self-learning, watching tutorials, asking friends, and testing & testing. And, it keeps going. There is always something new, something you have not done yet and want to try. I am curious and I love challenges, so I keep trying to improve and learn as I go.
Dress: Holly in Silver (this was a member gift, but is currently available in other colors); Hair: Donna Flora Joy; Jewelry: Donna Flora Lumiere; Cigarette stick: JCNY; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
Leda: And we can tell! You always have something fun and interesting being released. Typically, what inspires you and your designs?
Poulet: The place where I live now – a small town in Canada – is certainly inspiring. It has such a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Maybe because I come from a big city (Buenos Aires) where I lived all my life surrounded by concrete, noise, and millions of people, now I am amazed by the simplest things. For example, maybe I see a bird posing close to my window, I see the feathers, I see the pattern on those feathers and the shape and softness of them, and I start wondering how they would feel on my skin. It keeps on going until it becomes a draft in my sketchbook. Hopefully, following that, it materializes in SL after a decent number of hours of Photoshop. I would say that most of the time, inspiration comes from simple things that I happen to see with new eyes.
Dress: Mystery in cherry; Hair: !lamb Soma; Earrings: Kunglers Bambu silver; Bracelet: Armidi Triple Pearl; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
Leda: That’s the definition of an artist, isn’t it? To take us on a road we have been before, but show us something new. Do your designs reflect your personal taste then, as opposed to popular demand?
Poulet: I design according to my taste. I could not spend hours working on something that I don’t like. It would not be fun anymore! But, at the same time, I listen and read all the feedback from friends, customers, bloggers, and magazines. I do like to follow many blogs, and go to the store every now and again to talk to some of the customers. I always get fresh ideas after talking to them and reading blogs. I like to know what people like, as well as what they would like to see at PurpleMoon. Those talks always blend with my own thoughts, and it helps me to keep improving my designs.
Leda: This all sounds fun and wonderful. Are there any challenges too?
Poulet: Time is always an issue, but at some point you realize that this is like any other job you could have in RL. It requires time and organization. My manager, Chloe Panthar, can tell you that I am not very good at following schedules, but I do my best. I have a wonderful group of people who work at PurpleMoon and make my job much easier. My husband, my best friend, my manager, and models offer excellent customer service and look after almost everything around me. This gives me the time and space to do my job. I don’t have a schedule regarding new releases. I think I cannot push myself into that. I try to maintain some regularity, but I never know where next inspiration will come from, or even if it will come. Part of the process has a lot of waiting and patience involved. I would rather wait than release a gown that I am not 100% happy about.
Dress: Blossom in black; Hair: [e] Early in brown 09; Gloves & Fur Necklace: Rozoregalia; Shoes: Maitreya Esprit; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
Leda: You mentioned your experience in graphic design. Does that include any experience in fashion?
Poulet: As I mentioned, I have been involved in graphic design for years, which gave me knowledge about the tools I need for designing clothes in SL. But, regarding fashion, itself, I had no experience at all. I have always been told that I have good taste, and I knew how to combine different colors and styles in RL. I got into fashion in SL mainly because I was curious about it. After being a builder for a few years, I decided to try something different. I fell in love with it as soon as I started.
Leda: What else do you enjoy in SL?
Poulet: I love exploring. Lately, I don’t have enough spare time to do that, but any time we can, my friend SilverMoon is always taking me to cool places. I will never stop being amazed by the endless possibilities in SL. Every time I get out of my workshop, I get to find wonderful artists all over SL. They are inspiring.
Dress: Lizzy in copper; Hair: CaTwA Sama in espresso; Boots: Redgrave Leather in smoke; Earrings: Donna Flora Tosca; Bangles: Mandala Takara; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
Leda: Who are some of the designers who inspire you?
Poulet: There are many designers whom I deeply admire. One of them is June Dion from Bare Rose. Before I started making my own designs, I used to spend hours at her store. Her detailed work amazes me. I have to say that hair and skin are my weakness in SL – I have not counted how many I have in my inventory, and perhaps I should never do that! Hehe. Again, there are many amazing creators, and I could not mention just a few. There are many styles for any taste and occasion.
Dress: Merilyn in blue; Hair: Vita Irene in black; Shoes: Stiletto Moody Bare Great in silver; Photograph: courtesy of CKDexter Howley
Leda: Before I let you get back to your workshop, do you let your RL and SL mingle?
Poulet: My RL is deeply involved in my SL. I found very good friends with its full extension – we are in touch in and out of SL. I have the pleasure of calling SilverMoon Indigo my sister. She bears with me the everyday vicissitudes of the business. She is a very talented and creative woman who is always inspiring me. And the best thing that SL gave me was the opportunity to fall in love. I met Martin414 Timeless in SL in 2007. We got married in 2008. He is from Canada and I am from Argentina. In August of 2009, I moved to Canada and now are “really” and happily married. He means the world to me. Without him, I could not be doing what I do. He stands by me, helps me in all the ways that he can, specially scripting because he simply rocks on that! I never have enough words to say how much I love him and how thankful I am for his believing in me and the PurpleMoon project.
Leda: Now that you have teared us all up with your expression of love, we will let you get back to creating more pretty things for us. Thank you for your time!