Saturday, April 19, 2008

What I Aspire To Be

I may be burning my bridges here, but I’ve never been that fond of them anyway. They hide trolls you know.

Anyone who knows me is aware I do a number of things here in SL. I model, I write for a well known magazine. I have this blog. I also manage a great business in the photography field. I own my own shapes business and my own photography business as well. But none of these things define who I am.

I am defined by my integrity, my morals, my character and self respect. To those, no one owns me or can persuade me to change. That being said, I write this article stating emphatically, it’s written with my opinion being the sole driver.

As many of you know, and some that don’t, ASpiRE was recently sold by Bianca Darling to new owners Kristianne Matfield and Benderoverand Hammerer of Duality Inc.

The first dreadful thing that happened to ASpiRE was the loss of Ally Geer. The second was the loss of what ASpiRE once was.

I was hired by ASpiRE about a month ago as a model. I couldn’t have been more excited if someone had handed me a million Lindens. Since rezzing into SL and becoming aware of the modeling scene, joining ASpiRE was something I dreamed of as I know it is or has been for many a new avatar.

I never did one show for them. Before I could even step one foot onto the runway, Ally Geer was gone, and Bianca Darling had sold the business.

It wasn’t long before I received a notice indicating the new owners had decided to make some sweeping policy changes. The most significant being, exclusivity of employees. Any and all models or writers that work for them must be exclusive to ASpiRE, or if working for another agency, must “wear” the tag of ASpiRE and have it made public that they are the “property” of said agency.

Now I realize in real life, this happens, I’m not stupid. But since I’ve been modeling in SL and it’s been awhile now, I have yet to work for an agency that has required not only exclusivity but in addition, the stipulation of marching over to any and every other agency you work for and expect them to promote you under their name (ASpiRE) for all the work you do.

I’m sorry, but that just seems to me like a slap in the face to every other hard working modeling agency in Second Life and they are legion.

To require another agency to publicize, market and promote a model for another agency is simply ludicrous. Why would one agency do that for another? Why in the world as a model, would I want that kind of noose around my neck? Are they guaranteeing a certain income? No. Are they even guaranteeing you work? No. Then what would be the incentive for applying such a leash? Simply having the privilege of the tag ASpiRE branded on the collar around my neck is just not enough for this girl.

As if that isn’t enough, let’s look at what one of the new owners of ASpiRE is saying about one of the hardest working designers in Second Life. Check the comments: http://shoppingcartdisco.com/2008/04/06/i-hate-it-when-this-happens

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, including myself. But it would seem to me, if someone is in the business of representing designers in Second Life, one would be a bit more cautious of what is publicly said about them.

All that considered, I know a lot of you are thinking- “dayum Cherie, you’ve done it now, any chance at a future contract with ASpiRE you’ve just chewed up and swallowed”. Well, that may be so. But as I said, modeling does not define me. I am many things. Honest, hard working, loyal and yes, blunt. So if you’re looking for a “yes” woman, look somewhere else. I know how to spell “NO” and when to say it.

My self respect is a lot more valuable to me than any membership in an exclusive club.
/end rant

26 comments:

gogolita said...

You're awesome for speaking your mind :)

Jhuzen Ketsugo said...

Cherie,

We've not met, but I wanted to say I respect you for having the guts to say what you believe, and be true to yourself. Yes this may be just your opinion, but you are entitled to it, and I think you rock. You are not a brand, you are a person, and being an model in SL should not be the 'be all and end all' for any thinking person.

I myself was really put off by the comments made by the new 'head' of Aspire. After the press release regarding the sale of, and re-vamping of the Aspire Brand. with the inevitable goal of competing with Glam World and Other in world Fashion Publications, I felt there was more to the "I Hate When This Happens" brew-ha-ha then simply dislike for a particular garment or an issue of a designer inspired look. It looked more and more like a pre-emptive strike, and to me it utterly failed. I am not interested in seeing the new Aspire magazine or even remotely interested in the goings on at said agency, becuase of the way that whole very public 'stoning' went down.

Keep being Blunt, be true to yourself, you are a star!

~ Ketsy

Samara Kasshiki said...

I have ALWAYS felt it is better to be true to yourself than to money, mindsets or "the masses". The people that put you down for having an opinion and voicing it are the people you can afford to lose in your life. Good for you!

Aradia Dielli said...

I love you for being true to your self and you are so right about everything posted on this entry. I couldn't believe the new owner of ASpiRE! is the same person who bashed "designers" who use RL inspiration or photo source without giving credit. How can she honestly represent those who take inspiration from RL sources or photo source (which btw everyone does) when she feels so strongly against it? I doubt she can.

Juzen you are not the only one who saw it that way after people found out who Kristianne was, a lot of people IMed me the day the press release came out, and they said the same thing you did. That she only lashed out on that blog with hopes to ruin her competition.

I also have to say, I never had a good relationship with Ally Geer, but I give credit where credit is due and that woman is who kept that agency together for a very long time and to sell ASpiRE! rather than passing it on to someone who had real love for that agency was a real slap in the face.

But hey, I don't work there so for all I know Ally didn't want it.

Anyway, that's my opinion :)

kristianne matfield said...

Cherie,

I respect your opinion and your willingness to state it and will say right at the beginning that simply speaking an opinion contrary to ours will never lose you a chance for further contact with Aspire. I do, however, wish you'd taken the opportunity to attend the meeting where we discussed this or at least talked to one of us first for further clarification so that you were operating with all of the information prior to publicizing it.

While many people may not agree with the decision we've made and why we've made it, it was a business decision enacted in the best interest of our future plans for the Agency. We have nearly 20 models who've thought long and hard, talked with us and others and ultimately made the decision to stay as an Aspire Model and I don't believe any of them feel as though they have a chain around their necks. We've maintained an open door policy all week for questions and conversations and have met with owners of other agencies and nearly every model at their request to make sure everyone understands and feels comfortable with their decision.

There are several facts you've stated incorrectly and I would like to take a moment to clarify a few of them.

First, we do not, nor will we, demand that writers for the magazine go "exclusive". We do and will continue to have magazine staff members who write and photograph for other publications and we have no issue with their decision.

Second, your description of the "exclusivity" request is inaccurate in a few instances and I'm going to attempt to clear up any confusion.

To start with, we do not require that any other agency in SL market and promote Aspire models. If one of the Aspire models would like to continue to work with another agency on their runway, we support it whole-heartedly and simply request that their affiliation with us be known by wearing their tag OR the tag of the designer they're showing.

In addition, we actually ARE offering a guarantee of employment to the models who stay on staff in a variety of ways. The exclusivity is a dual promise that hinges on our guarantee to them that we will promote them, value them and keep them busy and employed.

To quote from a communication sent to everyone on the modeling staff on Thursday, "[j]ust know that we understand that this isn't going to be for everyone. There are some of you that have unique reasons for staying with the agencies that you're with and we understand that. We WANT you to think through this decision and we want you to feel good about the choice that you make. If you decide that now is not the time to join Aspire, we wish you well and send you on your way without any hard feelings."

Third, while I whole-heartedly respect your right to state your opinion, I do resent the insinuation that the models who decided to stay with Aspire are simply "yes women." Each and every one of them took the time and energy to put some hard questions to us and they ultimately came away comfortable with their decision, which is all we wanted for everyone involved.

Fourth, I count Ally Geer as one of my dear friends in SL and won't speak on her behalf. But I would suggest that anyone with questions about her departure from Aspire prior to its sale speak to her directly.

Now, moving on to the comments about my statements on Shopping Cart Disco. I know there are an unfathomable number of comments in that post and should anyone take the time to read mine, they will see that I stated my personal opinion that I have an issue with "content theft" and infringement of artistic integrity across the board and it's something I will comment on should I see it - even if the perpetrator is a beloved designer. I drew attention to a major issue regarding "inspiration" and crediting sources while avoiding a personal attack on anyone on any side. I've also stated on a different blog that I was disappointed with both sides for allowing the discussion to get in to an insult-hurling contest instead of a respectful examination of the issue. I assure you that it was in no way a "preemptive strike" against any organization in Second Life and in fact spoke with the designer in question after the blog exploded. I can see how my intentions could be misunderstood by anyone reading it, but this blog thing happened before the purchase was even final and my opinion was coming from "just" Kristianne Matfield and not the co-owner and CEO of Aspire. While I stand behind my opinion and the way that I stated it and am comfortable with the public knowledge that I find artistic integrity a hot-button issue, I do apologize to my business associates and the staff of Aspire for inadvertently linking their names with that opinion should they feel otherwise.

As always, I invite anyone who would like to talk about this further to contact me in world.

Thanks,

Kristianne Matfield

Payton said...

Cheri,

You spoke from the heart and I so admire you for doing so. Even though I am not an Aspire model, I see what this "exclusive" status means for all models in SL. I sure hope that you remain the wonderful and talented person you are and that we continue to model together in the many agencies we have in common. I wish that being a model in SL did not come with a tag that said DRAMA.

HUGGZ,
paypay

Tenshi said...

Anyone is entitled to their opinion. :)

Bender said...

...opinion does not equate fact.


Going back under my bridge now....

SySy Chapman said...

My self respect is a lot more valuable to me than any membership in an exclusive club.

^^^ I applaud you for that. Well said!

Fiamma Carfagno said...

u have guts! I admire that!

Cherie Parker said...

Bender and Kristianne,
The FACT is this..
"We never want to attend a show and see your name with someone else's agency above it".

"There are several news-focused publications that you're free to work for as long as any bio lists you as an Aspire model or your byline is simply your name. There are other magazines that are very much agency-specific and we'd have to talk about those situations on a case-by-case basis".

These are quotes from your FAQ sent to each model for ASpiRE.

Exclusive arrangements are hindering, not only for the models but the writers as well.

Anonymous said...

Aradia,
Other people other than Kristianne participated in the SCD conversation, and the issue articulated by Kristianne was not with photosourcing but with UNACCREDITED photosourcing. If your employer is so comfortable with photosourcing, I would presume she would be equally comfortable with attribution. The fact that she wasn't speaks volumes. In other words, why WOULDN'T you want people to know who you took the design from, unless there's something you're trying to avoid?

Perhaps it's far easier to (1) ignore the issue by making it about ONE person's vendetta (Tenshi, then Kristianne) or, as you do here, (2) making it about you and your agency?

Also, you and/or your agency were presumably hired to help MMS and GLAM dissipate publicity crises. Why are you fanning the flames? I mean, the fact that you accuse Kristianne of opportunistic mudslinging but come here and question her integrity and her agency's ability to represent designers? Pot, meet kettle.

Also, Cherie, it takes guts in this incestuous fashionista world to speak your mind. Expressing an opinion against anyone, be it a top agency or a designer, is full of risks and makes you enemies (as you can see from the posts above). Good luck in all you do.

Horse and the Pony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aradia Dielli said...

Anon, I usually don't answer to anon comments because I believe those who comment without revealing their names are nothing but cowards with no credibility who love to instigate and fabricate lies. Take the brutalhonesty blog for example :)

But I will to clarify a few things here for you.

Minnu and her company have nothing to hide, I just find it mind blowing that the same person who was so strong on showing her feelings on that blog, is the same person wearing Redgrave skins and clothes, pretty hypocritical no? I guess Kristianne sent the owners of Redgrave a letter as well demanding they give credit to Rhianna, and Tyra for using their faces on her latest skin line?

My opinion hasn’t changed; I don’t think someone who feels that strongly about designers who take inspiration from real life and don’t attach a notecard with their outfits can represent a designer who does just that in an honest way.

There are plenty of designers on SL who do NOT take the time to attach a notecard listing their source(s) for inspiration, in fact, I don’t think any do. This is why so many people IMed me the day the press release was posted and why the comments I mentioned earlier were made to me in those IM’s. It was ironic that the only person Kristianne was going after was Minnu and Thora and not anyone else doing it, but hey… what do I know? I’m biased because I own a modeling agency? lol

I’d also like to point out that I am commenting on this blog entry as Aradia Dielli, the common SL member, not the owner of another agency. This is my opinion and how I feel about the entire situation. This was never about my agency, but I understand it's easier for you to try and turn the focus away from the real problem here.

And one last thing, my agency simply resides on the GW sim, Minnu is a friend and I was offered space there the moment she got her first sim, the fact is that FACES has resided on GW even before I was hired by Minnu as her GM. We are not and never were hired to do any of what you listed, so whoever informed you did a bad job at it.

Cherie Parker said...

Anon, I am not worried about making enemies. Frankly, I don't believe I have any now. But if I did, it still wouldn't change my beliefs and opinions on this topic. Thankfully, I answer only to myself and a higher power.

kristianne matfield said...

I'm going to stay away from the Shopping Cart Disco/Cachet comments because that point has been firmly covered repeatedly. If one can't see the difference between crediting a designer - an ARTIST - and crediting what, genetics? for the inspiration for a skin, the point will never be made.

Regarding the rest of it... Aradia, it frankly makes no difference to me whatsoever that you received so many IM's speculating that my comments on SCD had to do with my purchase of Aspire because it is just that, speculation. I honestly don't even see you, Faces, Glam World, MMS or Cachet as a competitor. If anything has been proven it's that the SL resident is hungry for information, shopping experiences, literature and new and exciting events and I have complete faith in the level of creativity and excitement exhibited by my business partners and the rest of the staff of Duality, Depth and Aspire to deliver just that. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not the type to try to win by chopping someone else off at the knees but instead by making sure I just do what I do better. I see someone else's success as nothing more than an impetus to push the box and my own limits further.

One of the points we've made clear to the staff of Aspire is that the overriding principle behind the agency and the company as a whole is respect - not only for each other, but also for everyone else - in the way that we speak to each other and the thing things that we say. That just doesn't seem to be the way you operate, Aradia, which frankly further solidifies the fact in my mind that you're no competition at all. It's not about threatening or intimidating people to follow your lead and more about inspiring them to work with you as a team. I can say with 100% certainty that everyone now on Aspire's staff feels exactly that way.

Cherie, I'm sure you didn't intend for your blog to take this path and yes, you are able to copy and paste 2 sentences out of a notecard that was significantly longer and had far more to say than just that. The fact remains that you chose not to come to any of the staff meetings or to have a discussion with any one of us which left you with very limited information to go from. That FAQ notecard was never meant to replace the rest of the information we provided which is why I made such an effort to get everyone to one of the staff meetings. I am sorry that you didn't take the opportunity to do that as it may have prevented a bit of this confusion. But I repeat what I said to you when you submitted your resignation - we understand why you've made the choice that you have and we wish you well.

And now it's high time to live and let live. We have a group of models who've made the decision to stay with us and we're thrilled with them and are ready to get to work. For those models who chose not to stay or those looking in from the outside... I guess I have to ask, what are you really so worried about, anyway?

kristianne matfield said...

*clarification*

"I can say with 100% certainty that everyone now on Aspire's staff feels exactly that way."

Is phrased poorly and meant that they have been inspired to join the team, not threatened or pushed in to doing so. I would never venture to speak for them in how they feel about the rest of it.

Seereina Geiger said...

I just waned to say that I'm one of the models that decided to stay with ASpiRE! and I do not regret doing so.

A lot of us had doubts, yes, its not an easy decision to go exclusive. Me and a few more girls were very confused, after being with ASpiRE! for so long, for more than one and a half years myself. By now we all considered the ASpiRE! team like a family to us. I understand that you, Cherie, don't feel the same about ASpiRE!, but a lot of us do, and that played an important part to our decision to stay.

Furthermore, I'd like to add that after we spent about a week discussing it between us, we decided to ask for a second meeting with kristianne and Babyhoney, where all the models individually had the opportunity to ask questions and express how they felt about all the sudden changes. The two ladies immediately agreed and took the time to answer all of our questions and were very supportive. I can assure you that all the girls left very pleased from the second meeting, as afterwards some even sent me messages to tell me so.

Thus I do not accept being called a 'yes' woman, but I'll tell you that I have faith in people and I admire people who work hard and I'll try to support their efforts as much as I can.

Seereina Geiger

Anonymous said...

take it from a former writer / model / bottle washer of ASpiRE! that their time has come and gone. if Kristianne can still fool people into believing her stewardship of the brand can unbury any of Bianca's old connections all the best to her. make me a believer girl. all she's managed to do -from my first hand experience- is write/represent herself one way and act in a completely different manner. i'm not sure that can be hidden from the greater population she has to relate to much longer. maybe i should have told the story, maybe it's best to keep my personal drama with Kristianne in the shadows, i don't know. if anyone wants to know the story just IM me. i have a good sense of people's sincerity. a sense that seemed to be completely overshadowed by what i felt was Kristianne's overwhelming ambitions for herself. i sure hope she comes to see people as real caring and feeling human beings one day, not just pieces on her chess game to fame and fortune.

i've probably said too much as it is. let everyone believe what they want to believe. the truth is what you experience for yourself. let's get back to make believe.

thanks for raising the issue Cherie, when i heard the new policy i thought it was a bold move. one that i imagine might have a positive affect on our increasingly paranoid / political world of fashion. of course, being that i am also an underworld kingpin i'm sure the affect will not harm the vision for the future but a nonce. bendoverand hammerer? okay, nuff said. i bid you ado. love all ways.

Cherie Parker said...

Kristianne,
All of this came down while I was away for a few days. I received all of the information you sent which you indicated would clairfy any and all confusion. I understood this information to be definitive. The fact that one could come and talk to you regarding the policy changes and learn of the reasons to change does not and will not have changed the fact you require exclusive contracts, period.

Seerenia, I never implied that you, or anyone working for ASpiRE were "yes" women, simply that I was not.

Tenshi said...

Encore's lack of capitalization and grammar make me want to pull my hair out. Writer at Aspire? What precisely were the qualifications at that time... "speak the english language"? Let's not put the cart before the horse and wait to see what Kristianne can do.

Aradia Dielli said...

Kristianne, I'm not trying to compete. So I guess you are in competition with your self.

We all have fun at FACES, we're a big gay family (happy ;P) and I push no one to follow my lead. They're there because they want to be, not because I put a gun to their head. Oh and I too read the notecard, sent to me by one of your "trusted" models. :)

Babyhoney Bailey said...

I'll try this again, seeing as how last night's didn't show up - and maybe it's for the best as I had some colorful things to say - however, the sentiment is still the same.

What amazes me the most is you all speak with such conviction of actually knowing Kristianne. But I can say from honestly knowing her, that your claims are not factual.

Simply because you do not like, nor understand an effective business policy put into place by not only Kristianne but by Bender and myself, does not give you the right to police Kristianne as a person.

And frankly, if this is the most excitement and entertainment you're getting all weekend - I worry.

I stand behind Kristianne's actions as a person and as owner of Aspire. I am proud to not only call her my business partner but to also call her my friend. I think once some of you realize and have the opportunity to stand BESIDE someone as opposed to BEHIND them you'll understand that Kris has more integrity in her prim lashes then most combined.

Now, should someone wish to talk about the importance, or lack there of, of exclusivity in a sl modeling environment - feel free to send an IM my door's always open for intelligent conversation. Should it be a sham for another unjustified bashing? Don't bother.

And Aradia: Don't claim to know someone's loyalty until you've actually given them a reason to be loyal to you - your remarks, although cute in attempt - are not only lacking fact, but they're borderline silly at this point.

Babyhoney Bailey
Team Kristianne!111! Obvs.

Anonymous said...

Content creators must be thrilled to know that they can depend on fashion agencies/models to truly focus on promoting creators' hard work, as opposed to focusing on their own self-aggrandizement, petty jealousies or paranoic fantasies. Agencies/models come and go in SL, and from the looks of it, some will gladly contribute to their own reputational demise.

Aradia, you can give credit without notecarding, and I just read every darn post at Shopping Cart and I don't think anyone ever said "notecard or nothing". Also, seems that this issue has been brought up before with some other designers (including Elexor Matador and Paper Couture), but work that persecution complex, girl. I'm sure someone thinks its working.

kristianne matfield said...

I wish I could say I'm surprised this turned from a discussion about the merits of an exclusivity clause to a personal attack on me and my ambitions and sincerity, but all discussions of any importance seem to go that way these days.

The exclusivity clause, enacted by Aspire's management team - Ben, Babyhoney and me - has nothing to do with crediting designers; my comments on Shopping Cart Disco; EnCore's veiled threats; Aradia's perceived "inside scoop" and insinuations of disloyalty by an Aspire staff member; or Ben's creative and memorable name.

If anyone - in the agency or out of it - would like to discuss our reasons for requesting exclusivity or what specifically we mean by it and what we offer in return, I'd be happy to have that discussion in world. Otherwise, there's nothing more to say.

You made the choice that you did, Cherie, and it was the right one for you. Again, we wish you well and now we're all getting back to work.

Anonymous said...

Also criticized, Stiletto Moody. Gogolita had a far more comprehensive post about Stiletto Moody outsourcing work, taking Christian Louboutin designs, and pricing the shoes so expensively sometime in February, but that has disappeared (??). Here is a follow up:

http://gogolita.com/2008/03/17/