Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Second Life Prodigy : Topaz Joubert

Written by Carmichael Caudron

This interview took place on July 15th.
Since the year 2009, Topaz Joubert aka Thelma Lay in real life, has been a prodigy in the Second Life™ virtual world, simply because she was one of few who managed to catapult her virtual digital magazine, MANIERA™ into a real life legitimate magazine just like any other in the real world we all normally read. Real life models, real life coverage of fashion shows, art events their real life reporters attend and ofcourse also real life advertisers which truly makes it worth it in the magazine business.

MANIERA even got nominated last year at the Digital Magazine Awards™ ceremony, amazing.

Throughout all this, she remains as humble and genuine as can be, a pleasure to be around.

I interviewed Miss Joubert via Facebook™ this Monday morning at 11 AM Pacific time for an hour, getting all the details of her journey that seems to have many more accomplishments to discover.

How did you discover Second Life?

"I first heard of Second Life by watching the show The Office™ and thought it was fictitious until I heard a few guys I worked with talk about virtual games . I became curious and decided to check it out."

MANIERA magazine was first noticed in Second Life before you made it a real life magazine, what made you want to start a magazine, do you have a background of being an editor in real life already or was this all first created in SL™ (Second Life)?

"Everything I learned about publishing and the magazine business , I have learned in Second Life. My background in RL is travel management. But what I found was useful with my real life background is always thinking on your feet.

I was not the founder of MANIERA, I was originally hired as a fashion editor . After the company was formed in SL and before the very first issue was released the owner stepped down and asked if I would take over.

Well, to answer your question. We put a lot of work to get the first issue together. We had everything just about done and when the owner stepped down. It was either trash it all or try to make a go for it.

We all decided we wanted to make it work."

Thelma Lay's Second Life avatar Topaz Joubert by G Photography.

What made you want to take a job as an editor in Second Life?

"I saw the job noticed posted for a stylist and thought it would be interesting , I think at that time I was in SL for approximately 9 months. I honestly thought it would be fun."

How on earth did you manage to make MANIERA into a reality in the real life publishing world? It is so rare and unheard of,seriously.

"Well, I think we were in our 2nd year in SL when we first starting talking about it. by the end of that year , I honestly felt where do we go from here? We put so many hours into the SL magazine, and I say "we" because it was not only me but NOx Deigan, Aphrodite Brianna, Lovelymiwacko7399 Menna and our former photo editor AtomicSparkle Skytower. I personally got to a point of either close it, sell it or see how far we can take it. I knew I just could not let it go because MANIERA became so much a part of my life.

So I talked to the team and its been amazing. They all trusted and believed in the vision . I honestly think, or should say I know , that this would have not been possible with another group of individuals."

Sweet! how did the transition come about? Did you have real life contacts or you got real life offers? Dish some (not all) secrets to our readers please :D

"Real life contacts definitely help but with this business I am finding its based on trust , building relationships. Yes, there were real life contacts, friends of friends and a good portion of reaching out to people and building a relationship.We all do our part , researching, networking , searching for new and interesting topics to cover. Our writers play a huge part in obtaining content for upcoming issues."

Thelma Lay on the cover of ManieraSL's Women issue (June 2012)

Awesome, if I am not mistaken your first real life issue was the one where you were on the cover?

"The edition with my picture on the cover was out SL Women's issue. That was the edition where we first announced we were going real life. We ran a real life preview edition and had a launch party in SL which I think is one of my happiest memories of SL. Our first official real life edition was released September 2012 with the Russian Designer Dmitry Loginov on the cover."

MANIERA's November 2012 issue, one of their best releases




Taking a look back at the cover of October 2012

Some editions of real world Maniera including last month's cover of June 2013

Please tell us about yourself a bit.

"Hmm.. well, I am single , I live in Washington DC. I am a lousy cook . I wish I could say my life is all glamour and glitz but working on the magazine consumes all of my time. I am still trying to find the balance between work and leisure. Overall , I think I am pretty laid back, some may say too laid back or some may just disagree. Hell, I am still trying to figure it all out."

From a personal standpoint, I have always looked up to you. Remembering seeing the arrival of MANIERA on the scene in Second Life when I was actively publishing OI Magazine SL™ at the time back in 2009 and 2010. I even attended some of your workshop classes on publishing back then. I knew right away you would go far from the beautiful professional work you did but just how far I was pleasantly surprised! Having said that, what advice would you give beginners in the magazine world besides not giving up on their dream? Follow up question, MANIERA publishes 2 magazines a month, the real life one due today I understand and then the Second Life issue too, can you give us a sneak peek what they are about for which we will post the embedded links below for our readers to read.

"Thank you , so much for your kind words and as well for all the support you have given us. The real life magazine is monthly and we have moved the SL magazine to bi monthly. We had to make some touch decisions regarding our publications. We felt going bi monthly at this time was the best decision , to keep the quality to a certain standard. The real life magazine started growing at a fast rate , faster then we even dreamed about. We started to be noticed in the industry , mind you we were only in our 3rd publication when we made the finals of the Digital Magazine Awards™ and that is pretty unheard of. So with how great that was it also added tremendous pressure to the entire staff.

Well, I am excited for this issue , we love fashion but we also love new technology as well as science and I think this one has the right blend. We also this issue have a very special interview with Tobias Tobell director of the new thriller Confine which will have its international release. We are so fortunate to be able to get one of the first interviews with such an up and coming director.

For the Second Life issue which is now called MANIERASL™ we have a special edition featuring Mohna Lisa Couture™ and the new MLC Adriel Huntress™. Our July SL edition is a new twist on fairy tales.

Read it here at the MANIERA website (click hyperlink)


The best advice I can give anyone who is planning on launching a magazine in SL is to really think on why you want to and are you willing to devote the time. Also, decided on what magazine you want , what will make it different from the rest and look not only at SL magazines but real life ones as well to get a sense of design, content and layout."

Then the only way is up!  Thank you for your time Topaz, it is an great honor you deciding to let us interview you.

"Thank you.. it was an honor and once again Thank you Carmichael for all of your support . It means alot."

Update for 2014 :Topaz Joubert is hitting another milestone, she is going print in real life with Maniera and thus retiring what started it all ,the SL Maniera, congrats Topaz!

Her words on Facebook :
As you all know, last year we took on an unheard of step in launching a RL magazine. In such a short time, we saw how what was a pipe dream became reality - not just any reality, but a recognized and respected reality, but with that came some hurdles. One of which is one many here in SL can relate with: balancing SL with RL. I know many of you have seen how it has affected the SL side: halting the SL publication, less shows and less communication.
This is due to the fact we are redirecting our focus. In 2014, the RL MANIERA Magazine will be not only a digital magazine but also a print magazine, which will be carried in bookstores and newsstands around the US, Canada and Europe. Another major change is that while we will still carry international features, we will be more centered around the events, people and news makers in the Washington DC area. Washington DC is an ideal market for us and having a “home” location will not only build distribution and circulation but also build the brand.
The RL MANIERA has grown over the past year and is at a critical stage. We just finalized a working relationship with a business consultant who specializes in launching new magazines and circulation and distribution with existing magazines. We are fortunate to be working and guided by someone with over 30 years experience with magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Time and with Bob Guccione, Jr.owner of Penthouse launched SPIN magazine.
So, what does this mean to SL? After much discussion and some serious soul searching, we decided it is time to phase out the Second Life operation over the next few months. We will be contacting students holding unused vouchers to finish their courses, downsizing the sim and APR/MAR will be the last official edition of MANIERASL. We will not be closing down any groups as to retain the MANIERA brand in the SL community. Our RL staff will still be here in world to keep an eye on the brand as personal members of the SL community -- but not as MANIERASL. There may be opportunities for shows, just can't say when. I will, of course, understand if any of you feel the need to drop our groups. I will keep you posted on the timeline of events as they happen.
Aphrodite, Nox, Deep and myself want to deeply thank each and every one of you for the last five years. I know I have said this many times, but SL has changed my life in so many ways and each one of you have been a very important part in MANIERA. This is not goodbye, but instead a new journey for us. Ending a relationship - whether it’s business, romantic or friendship - may be sad, but remember it is not the end of the world but a chance for a new and better beginning. (end quote)

1 comment:

  1. Hard work pays off :) Very happy for your personal success and showcasing that skills gained and honed in virtual world business are transferable to other professional opportunities, and real income.

    Congratulations! You rock Thelma.

    Skylar Smythe (in SL)