Lauren Ohnesorge, Senior Staff Writer – Triangle Business Journal
House of Blueberry fashions dress avatars used in video games platforms such as Roblox and The Sims.
Shimmery tank tops, strapless party dresses and designer sunglasses – They’re runway-ready looks. But they aren’t getting a New York fashion week debut – at least not in the traditional sense.
Wake Forest, North Carolina-based House of Blueberry deals in the metaverse with its styles distinguishing pavatars in video games such as Roblox and The Sims. And investors are buying in, as a new securities filing shows the company raised just under $6 million from two investors.
The 20-employee firm, led by serial entrepreneur Gizem Mishi McDuff, is one of several in the region betting on the metaverse – an interactive digital reality that some say could be the future. It’s a concept that may have been inconceivable a few years ago – profiting off of clothes you can’t even touch. But in an increasingly digital world, McDuff sees growing opportunities.
McDuff is a serial entrepreneur – cofounding multiple companies in her home country of Turkey. At age 15 she and her friends started a social network, called Xuqa, later selling it to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). The same group cofounded Peanut Labs, a marketing company focused on gaming. It sold to a large data company.
After studying computer engineering in college, McDuff was dabbling online and ran across a band, Sky Galaxy. In the description, it said “I do concerts on Second Life.”
“That was really interesting to me,” McDuff said of the platform, which allows people to create avatars and interact in an online world. “So I downloaded Second Life. I went to the concert.”
And it was “amazing.” She saw the venue depicted on the screen, the piano, the performer. And, most importantly, she saw the people.
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