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Editorial: How a Second Life Modeling Agency Begins

Nave Madison Fall March 6, 2012 Editorials, Modeling Agencies & Organizations 9 Comments

I was thinking, for the Second Life Model’s Survival Manual that I’m working on (sporadically these days I admit) mind you, about how modeling agencies in SL start, evolve, and die these days and somehow my musings have turned into a blog post also. An amusing one I hope … the last thing I’d want to do with one of these is hurt anyone’s feelings, so I’ve purposefully not named many names. It’s hard enough doing all the work to start an agency without someone like me poking you with a stick for the mistakes we all make and, hopefully, learn from. Lord knows I make enough of them myself. How do you think I learned enough to even think about writing a book?

Listening to this for inspiration whilst writing: Black Lips – “Veni Vidi Vici”

So here goes …

I think every modeling agency on SL is undergoing some serious stress as they attempt to adapt to a highly, competitive market that eats its young regularly. Many people who thought it would be fun to own a modeling agency in SL and become a famous diva have jumped in with both feet, so the list of new agencies is now endless. I can’t name names here, there are far too many. They know who they are …

Starting an agency goes something like this (the names have been changed to protect the innocent here):

Three friends have a discussion about how much they want to be in business in SL. TOGETHER. They scheme and the idea of a modeling agency emerges from their discussion. Soooooooo they declare themselves in business. They’ve started a modeling agency with a name they spontaneously create out of thin air. Marketing???? We don’t need no steeeenking marketing … The Friends 123 Model Agency is born.

Then the 3 fast friends decide to figure out their business plan (not having been to business school they are feeling their way in the dark here). They don’t write it down mind you, they roundtable it between them and no one takes any notes.

Friend 1 turns to her best friends forever and says okay we’re a modeling agency now.

Her friends do what friends do. They say:

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy …

Lorelei Maggs and Darius Kragin - Photo by Darius Kragin

The conversation then goes something like this …

Friend 1: We’ve got a greatttttt name. Now what should we do?

Friend 2 (or lover): Yippppppeeeeeeeeee we’re a modeling agency. Let’s have a fashion show. Let’s start a school. We need to have a magazine too (good luck with the magazine btw). A logo, we need a logo too …

Friend 1 (the smart one) says: We need some groups too. Those only cost L$100 to start but I’ll take care of those for us. I think 5 or so will do it …

Friends123 Modeling Agency Mgmtnd Staff; Friends123 Modeling Agency; Friends 123 Modeling School; Friends 123 Modeling Magazine Staff; Friends 123 Magazine Readers …  I’ll think up the group member’s titles too. Head Cheese, Smelly Cheese, Toe Jam etc. Fun titles for everyone …

Friend 3 is so stunned by all this that not a word is said by s/he. Yet …

Friend 1: Who knows a designer we can get to sponsor a show for us? Ohhh damn, do we have any models yet? We can’t be the models we are management. We better get some models huh? Let’s try to steal, errrrrrrr, I mean recruit, some good ones first. At the same time we should spam all the modeling groups and hold a dozen casting calls too. We can be mean to everyone who comes … unless they suck up to us, of course.

Friend 1 says to Friend 2 (Friend 3 ((the not too bright one)) is still silent, mind you): I think you should be in charge of recruiting sponsors. I’m the creative one here … I’ll select the models and think up the show themes and direct them … I am a natural-born killer errrrr leader …

Friend 3 meanwhile is silently trembling with his/her desire to participate – somehow, some way, or be left behind with the unwashed masses of “not owners.”

Friend 2 blinks for the first time … but luckily for her Friend 3 (the dupe) steps in as if on cue …

Friend 3: OOOOOOOO ooooooooooooooo I know someone who is a designer. Can I be in charge of ohhhhh let’s call it vendor relationships (thinking this will yield lots of free stuff — wrongggggggggggg)? Puhhhhhhlease?

Friend 1 looks at Friend 2 and smirks to herself.

Then she winks and says: Absolutely. Do you agree Friend 2?

Friend 2: I sure do. This is a great idea …

Then to Friend 3, Friend 1 says, “Okay now you are in charge of marketing and sales and promotion and the blog and writing all the note cards, the non-disclosure agreements, and the contracts and getting free stuff for the VIP gift bags. We also need to copyright everything and trademark the name in the US. No big deal … you can handle that. No sweat right?

One final thing though, just so we stay on the same page, you have to run all your ideas past me and Friend 2 as soon as you get them and we need to approve them together. There are 3 of us so we’ll always have a majority decision. Okay? Great … then we are agreed

Dooooooooooooooooooooooomed …

Duhhhhhh!!!!! I wonder what friend 3 is thinking about now? Hearing that we need a full-sim. We need a cool headquarters. We need groups and logos and freebies. Ohhhhhhhh my … Let’s build us a unique runway!

Why not build a great agency and do things for the models to gain their good will and enthusiastic support? Why not commit to an event a month and get on that? But that’s hard work … and suddenly Friends 1 and 2 aren’t around that much anymore. Maybe Friend 4, who was recruited by Friend 3, will write the business plan for them because the others have countless rehearsals for other agency’s shows to attend saying,

“I have MY modeling career to tend to …”

So now the spiral starts, recruited models say to themselves: “What have these guys done for me lately? What are they up to? What are they doing and why don’t they tell us about it?” At some point the rubber has to meet the road and it’s hard work, very competitive, and you need a myriad of skills to succeed in the SL modeling community.

You have to be a:

Manager/Planner Psychologist Recruiter Writer/Editor/Blogger/Event Scripter Designer/Builder Marketeer/Sales Manager Schmoozer Fashionista/Trendsetter Techie/Estate Manager with GOD powers DeeJay Trainer Photographer Stylist Sorority House Mother Triage Nurse (because there are a lot of wounds, and pain involved in modeling) Translator (because so many great designers and models don’t speak English)

and a

Vampire (because there’s never enough time to sleep now)

Did I forget that it helps to be, personally, well-funded (unless you find a sucker to pay for everything) and own your own sim on a Class 5 Server?

Lorelei Maggs and Darius Kragin - Photo by Darius Kragin

Sooooooooooooooooo things are shaking out a bit. Many of the big designers are tired of the relentless begging for sponsorship that they are being assaulted by. New, maybe even deserving, creators are ignored or dismissed out of hand. Too small for them, they say, we need NAME designers to make our mark and get others to pay for shows. (No one will pay a new agency y’know. You’re lucky to get the clothes much less $Lindens too.) Fringe and edge groups aren’t represented except by a rare agency like Nocturne, Voshie Paine’s agency, there may be others but they don’t come to mind easily. (No offense if you view your agency as edgy or on the fringe feel free to comment.)

Agencies fail or evolve, like MIA years ago did when Crowefabulous Sommerfeld and Anita Claven split up. Anita started Metamorphosis which transformed itself into AE which then became IMAGE and IMAGE  evolved, with its former CEO, Lonali Summers, at the helm, but minus it’s creative, driving force, blackLiquid Tokyoska, as VP and Stylist/Builder, who went off to start the new UNIQUE with Sweetest Sands (who both, instantly, got booted, as models at Catalyst of Fantasy, by Lacie Beningborough, for having the audacity to start another, competing agency, despite her having fiercely recruited them both not that long before. Go figure that one out? So much for being a family … unhhhhh huh sure). Other agencies disappear like Fierce suddenly did. Here today, poooooooof gone tomorrow. They can slowly fade like Timeless seems to have done, or merge, like SLGlam and Infinite did before evaporating. Some choose to service the modeling community from the tangential, but profitable, role as a support business, like Ewing seems to have done, concentrating on model’s training. Ewing marketed itself as an agency but seemed to concentrate its efforts on being a good, if expensive, training organization. If I’m misinformed on any of this history, feel free to correct me with a comment.

Big well run agencies like Boulevard, AVENUE, BeStyle, Passion, Evane, and Maniera, to name a few that pop to mind easily, meanwhile, are thriving. I think. Sorta kinda thriving. I admit to a business relationship with Boulevard btw, Deal with it

So there is my, I hope, amusing view of how an agency gets started in SL these days …

Hopefully, the founders have some fun doing it. Lord knows I’ve had a ball at the agencies I’ve been deeply involved with and I’ve tried to not make any of the mistakes I described above by taking things methodically and planning first …

I’m just,


Copyright © 2009 – 2012 Nave Fall all rights reserved

Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Sabina Datura says:

    I just found this article while searching for modeling schools online. I have attended several, and some are better than others, most of them are drama, and they do tend to disappear over time. There is one that comes to my when you think of longevity, and that is MODA, because while they do not spend their lindens on inworld advertising, they have been around and very active in the modeling community since 2006. The management seems to all know each other outside of SL so maybe that’s the reason.

  2. IzzyBella1 Resident says:

    Accidentally I got into this article, and was amazed not to see several other well known schools mentioned. I took classes in several, but none fulfilled their promise of giving me work after I graduated, except for Rodeo Drive School, which wasn’t mentioned here either. I took classes there, they claim they are in business since 2007? I have no idea if that’s true, however we did lots of runway shows, and I did get my investment back. Modeling in SL is fun, I haven’t been in there in a while for RL issues. But it is fun to get L$ also, so you don’t have to keep spending your L$ for everything. I guess this article is bias. 2 Schools that you mentioned here didn’t do anything for me, just took my L$. Maybe you should make a poll or something about schools, and let the real models talk. Not the ones just having fun, but the ones actually making L$ :)

  3. Funny and sad at the same time. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. Spot on and brilliant, great read, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    • Quella Quann says:

      I’m going to have to agree.

      • Nave Madison Fall says:

        Thank you all for your kind words. Writing this was cathartic in some ways. I lived through an agency start-up that mirrored many things mentioned. I hope that this entertained you and enlightened you as well. Taylor’s comment about needing both love and passion resonates for me. I’m afraid that in many cases the motivations are less worthy and more self-serving. In many case (not all thank god) The CEO tag carries an almost predictable effect on those who wear it, corrupting them with a false sense of power. Charity said to me recently that modeling agencies and model need to remember that they are in business to promote their designer clients careers not their own, because so many seem to lose sight of that fact.I salute those unique individuals who navigate the minefield to succeed in creating an SL modeling agency that lasts.

        I’m just


  4. Frolic Mills says:

    Yes, Nave does have a business relationship with BLVD. He is the Resident Stiletto-in-Charge! He will alpha and beta test every pair of shoe before they hit my runways.

    He does a lovely job!

  5. Quella Quan says:

    Thank you Nave this was really amusing. It really isn’t as easy as it looks. I’m no expert in this, but do I envy the agency owners? No. Takes too much time, effort, financial availability. More power to everyone who are able to pull it off.

  6. Taylor Wassep says:

    Ohhh Nave, i love the conversation between the three friends…i love this article but a lot goes into make a successful modeling agency then just people. You need passion and love for it.

  7. Rusalka Callisto says:

    LOL all over the place Nave, especially since I’ve seen some of this first hand while watching several modeling agencies/magazines/academies in the formation process. Most of which failed miserably or got eaten by other agencies. Amusing, but pointed. A good lesson for those thinking about starting their own agency because it is the “cool” thing to do and they think they’ll start raking in the Lindens, the free stuff and more, without having to put out huge amounts of cash, time and effort to make it work.

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