Thursday, October 11, 2007

Akasha Wachmann: She's the cat's meow.

Our very own Akasha Wachmann is a stand out. Just about everything she does is infused with infectious glee. She used to be the most knowledgeable shopper I knew - before she became a builder - and can accessorize her avatar (and yours!) better than a window dresser at Bendels.

Bettina Tizzy: Were you an extreme Barbie doll player as a child?
Akasha Wachmann: Yes, actually. I even went so far as to try and make Barbie clothes… failed miserably, but the effort was there. Mostly I was kind of destroying them, or giving them haircuts...or leaving them in odd positions so my mom would find them and laugh… like having one in the cabinet sitting on a toy potty and when she opened it to get a plate, a Barbie was taking a dump on it.
Bettina Tizzy: When did you realize you could make what you had been searching for but were not finding?

Akasha Wachmann: It wasn't until I started my Catnip line for nekos that I really saw myself as a creator; making things instead of buying. Shopping was my downfall. When I wanted a certain thing I would hunt and hunt - for days sometimes - until I found it--and that's how I ended up knowing where just about anything could be bought. Since I started building, I've kind of hung my shopping hat up.

Akasha's backpack for nekos includes whiskey, an ice pick, neko literature ^.^ a rat, and other "neko yum-yums"

Even though she's only been around for less than a year, Akasha, together with her friend and business partner Duck Auk, already has one mini empire under her belt: Sirens, a superstore, fantasyscape and playground for mermaids and mermen. Under one roof, Kash and Duck showcase all the best merchandise catering to watery tastes. Much like a giant aquarium, fish are swimming about, and you can catch a ride on a shark or swim with a school of dolpins while you shop.

Akasha and Duck then launched Catnip, a new mall for nekos, but Duck now focuses on Sirens and Kash has partnered with Kisten Bailey from Virus Co. "She's my new partner here at the Hysteria sim and we love building together; bouncing ideas off each other and helping one another. She's my partner in crime, so to speak," said Kash, who has also introduced her own Catnip line of accessories for nekos.

Kisten Bailey

Bettina Tizzy: Given your Sirens store and now the Catnip line, it's clear that you tackle a category and take it full throttle, even to the extent of bringing in other creators whom others might consider "competitors," and giving their products a home under your roof, thereby creating segment "superstores." What was your rationale for doing this?
Akasha Wachmann: I just thought, 'why not make a one stop shop for that certain theme?' Inviting many other designers to share my store just seemed a natural thing to do. We are all appealing to the same group. Why not bring it all together and have fun?
Bettina Tizzy: Did you meet with a lot of resistance at first?
Akasha Wachmann: Surprisingly no. Most have been all up for it. It gets to be like family after awhile - and I love it. I'm good friends with most of my vendors in both the mermall and now Catnip. It just wouldn't seem right to leave them out of my projects.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Sirens does not charge its vendors rent, and Catnip, because of a recent land upgrade, only charges a very little just to help meet expenses.

Catnip is ready for Halloween and trick-or-treaters.

Bettina Tizzy: What a deal for them!
Akasha Wachmann: Duck is moving Sirens to a bigger space because we need more room… new designers coming out all the time, and this time it's actually going to be underwater ^.^
Bettina Tizzy: Will you charge rent at Sirens or a commission on sold items?
Akasha Wachmann: No, that will stay free but it's booked already. (We do it) just for fun and whatever we happen to sell.
Bettina Tizzy: How much of it showcases your items versus everyone else's?
Akasha Wachmann: I really got into the neko area recently. Siren's main focus will always be the tails, but my sea pets, harps and fountains are always fun to add to the avatar. As for Catnip, I tried to keep it to "no rent," inviting my fave designers, but the land upgrade (made a small fee necessary).

Bettina Tizzy: Can anyone bring you their products, be they for merpeeps or nekos?
Akasha Wachmann: Catnip is full already. One day open and everything has been rented out. Sirens, I think, still has space available, but the new location is still in the building phase.
Bettina Tizzy: What are the determining factors in your selection of other people's merchandise for your stores?
Akasha Wachmann: The 'wow' factor… if I saw it and was just amazed or impressed. If I wouldn't wear it, I wouldn't approach them to join me.

Akasha's "Bunny Stew Hat" includes a list of ingredients, and one sowwy bunny with a fork impaled in its head.

Bettina Tizzy: So is SL a work venue now for you primarily?
Akasha Wachmann: oo no, fun first—always. When it's not fun anymore, what's the point? xD I really have a ball making things. It's a great outlet actually. I try to keep the atmosphere at the shops fun and goofy, and I think that's why they have been so successful. It's no fun shopping in a stuffy, proper place all the time.
Bettina Tizzy: What has demanded the most of you insofar as your time and creativity?
Akasha Wachmann: Getting this new place set up was tough, but this time I had Kisten to take on half the work with me and we really laughed through it all... The Mermaid Pageant was probably the hardest and really did a number on me.

Here a few pages from the Sirens Mermaid Pageant souvenir book; photography by Ponk Bing.

Akasha Wachmann: I had to round up the willing mermaids, herd them to rehearsals --which in SL is nearly impossible given the different time zones. I also had private rehearsals with each contestant, going over each detail: the talent segment, the casual tail, and of course, the formal tail. Then I had to set up the walk out routine, write up the intros and info about each contestant. Set decorating, advertising, promos, and securing the photographer – Ponk Bing - for the souvenir album… and (I tried) to look like I knew what I was doing haha.
Bettina Tizzy: Of all the things you've made, which have caused the most reaction?
Akasha Wachmann: Well, the Rape and Cookies Belt has gotten the most reaction, I suppose. It came along as me and Kisten were going over ideas for her Criminal line, and it dawned on me to smash rape, with something yummy and innocent. It has the basic rape necessities: duct tape, rohypnol, chloroform and of course, you get hungry with all that raping so… COOKIES! The rape poofer that comes with it adds to the effect.

Akasha Wachmann: I had so much fun with the Rape Belt, that Kidney Thief seemed to just go with it. Don't ask me why. It's just so out there… the thought of a bleeding bag of kidneys on your hip threw me into a giggle fit… anticipating the reaction gets me every time.

Bettina Tizzy: What would you like for people to know about you?
Akasha Wachmann: Well, just that I'm super friendly. Don't be scared to approach me and say hi. We can run off and throw water balloons at people or just chat.

Slurls: Catnip and Sirens