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cSapphire: Virtual Fashionista

cSapphire started playing Roblox at seven years old. Now in her 20s, cSapphire is an acclaimed Roblox fashion designer who has sold 2.5 million virtual clothing items on her Roblox store and won groundbreaking awards for her designs.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced by Haley Dapkus with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. It was written by Alexis Stratton and edited by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan. Narration by Joy Ofodu. Joy Smith was our executive producer. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!

Transcript

A blocky figure in a hat ringed with flowers steps into an elegant virtual ballroom. Above her, rows of chandeliers glow a warm gold. In the background, gentle music plays, adding an energy of excitement. 

 

The flowered figure jogs down a deep red carpet until she’s standing before a large screen. There, an avatar with long dark hair and a red broad-brimmed hat smiles. “Today,” the screen reads, telling us the announcer’s words, “I’m delighted to present the first-ever Fashion Award for Metaverse Design on Roblox.”

 

This award is very important. It will honor a digital designer who’s pushing boundaries and leading the way in digital fashion. 

I’m Joy Ofodu. And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.

A fairy tale podcast about the real-life rebel women who inspire us. 

On this episode, cSapphire: A fashion designer who is blazing creative trails through the virtual world of Roblox.

To a lot of her friends and family, cSapphire is known as Kyasia [Kai-Asia], a multiracial artist living in Connecticut who loves books and dotes on her pets. (She has lots of them, including snakes and tarantulas!)

As a quiet kid growing up in the 2000s, Kyasia often doodled in her notebooks and sketched anime characters in the margins of her homework. Sometimes, she stayed up all night reading books, especially ones with enchanted forests, heroic wizards, and ferocious dragons.

Kyasia was drawn into so many spectacular worlds when she read. Soon, she started recreating these fantastic landscapes and characters in her notebooks. She drew princesses and mages, animals and children. She designed entire empires! And stillyet, there were more universes in her head than she could ever put on paper.

Kyasia also felt fascinated by the worlds she found in computer games. She loved playing games where she could dress up characters in cool clothes, build statues in the sky and castles underwater. Computer games  became like another sketchbook for Kyasia—one with endless pages. 

Then, in 2009, when Kyasia was seven, she saw an ad for a game that would change her life. It was called Roblox

Kyasia clicked open the link. Her screen glowed with a rainbow of blocky possibilities. She typed in the screen name cSapphire because she felt like it was unique and full of spark. Just like her. 

Soon, cSapphire was running around in Roblox’s many game worlds. The worlds were made by other players and each one was unique and vibrant. There were chess games and role-playing games, villages and concert halls.

And there were loads of avatars with different types of bodies and styles. Some had short, spiky hair like rock stars, and others had long intricate braids. Some wore leather jackets, while others donned t-shirts. Once, Kyasia even saw a bunny costume!

Kyasia spent a long time picking out her avatar’s clothes and choosing every little detail for her character. When she was done, her avatar looked like a toy version of herself—with long dark hair, warm brown skin, big bright eyes, and a shy smile. 

But there was one problem: Even though anyone on the platform could make virtual clothing, not many players were doing it. To Kyasia, the clothing options on Roblox were boring. There weren’t a lot of styles and patterns to choose from, and nothing quite looked like her. She just wanted to dress her avatar in a cute set of comfy sweats, or a funky hat with stars, or slim white sneakers with pink trim.

So she decided to do something about it. Kyasia had never designed clothing. Not on Roblox, not in real life.

But that didn’t stop her. 

To start, Kyasia downloaded a few free paint applications.

She opened one and clicked around, drawing this and that. But the app was too clunky and didn’t have the tools she wanted. 

She opened another and found a beautiful, endless color palette. But in this app, the drawing tools felt too complicated. Her nose scrunched in frustration, and she closed the program. 

Finally, she opened a third app. The colors were perfect. The drawing tools were simple but offered her every shape and size she needed. As her virtual paint brush swept across the screen, her whole body filled with delight—just like when she was drawing on paper. Oooh yes!

Kyasia doodled in the program for a while, and soon, she had her first design: A big, comfy sweatshirt.

Sure, it wasn’t exactly like the design in her head. but this was a whole new medium for her and there was so much to learn about virtual design. Kyasia knew that all she could do was keep on experimenting and creating. 

As the months passed, Kyasia spent more and more time exploring new designs. 

From cute dresses to mech suits to ancient armor, Kyasia tried it all. She had to throw some designs away. She had to start over sometimes. But slowly, her work got better and better. 

Mostly, she made outfits she wanted to wear in real life—tshirts and leggings for lounging around the house or a luxurious dress to wear to a special event. She also loved making themed collections—like outfits that were entirely pink.

When she had a design she liked, she uploaded it to cSapphire’s wardrobe. And every time her avatar wore her custom-made creations, Kyasia couldn’t help but smile.

Within a year, she was sharing her designs with other players on the platform. At that point, Kyasia was only 13 years old!

Over the next few years, Kyasia found other Roblox players who had an eye for fashion, too. And together, they made a group where they shared their passion for clothing design. These players tradedshared tips and tricks—and even created Roblox fashion shows with in-game judges!

Soon, players throughout the Roblox community knew the screen name cSapphire, and Kyasia began selling her designs inside the game for real-world money. In fact, she created a whole store inside of Roblox! There, avatars could walk through a virtual world designed entirely by her, check out her many adorable outfits, and even try them on.

But cSapphire’s popularity had its problems. One day, Kyasia logged onto Roblox and saw something that made her heart sink.

Someone had copied an outfit she made and was selling it on their own!

Kyasia didn’t know what to do. It didn’t seem fair. Her Roblox fashion designer friends shared her frustration, but there wasn’t a lot any of them could do. She tried not to let it bother her.

Once again, she decided the only way through was to keep exploring new possibilities. So she started designing even more new outfits. 

Kyasia’s fan base grew and grew. First, she sold a few thousand items. Then, a few hundred thousand. And then, a million! 

Eventually, Kyasia didn’t have to worry about people stealing her designs. Like real-world, big-name design brands, players just wanted something made by cSapphire.

Then, in 2020, something unbelievable happened. Gucci called! Gucci is a mega famous, high-end fashion house in real life. They told Kyasia that they wanted her to make items for them in Roblox! 

Like, a whole Gucci collection with seven outfits total.

It was the coolest thing ever. Kyasia couldn’t wait to get started. She browsed the Gucci website and the photos the Gucci team gave her. Then, she opened her design app and started imagining how she would make these designs a Roblox reality. 

Within a few taps and clicks, her new designing adventure was underway. Her stylus moved swiftly across her drawing tablet. First, she traced the edges of a shirt. Next, she added details like buttons and pockets; and a colorful pattern. She even drew little shadows to make it look like it was truly being worn in real life.

As Kyasia dove into the designing process, she felt so focused and alive. She was truly proud of her work. 

Kyasia’s Gucci campaign was a big hit. Across the Roblox community, players scrambled to buy the designs, and soon, she was getting requests from other fashion companies like Forever21.

Then in 2021, the British Fashion Council announced that they would be awarding their first-ever fashion award for metaverse design.

Roblox nominated five designers for the award, and one of those nominees was cSapphire.

When Kyasia heard the news, her heart leapt. A design award for virtual fashion? It was like a dream come true.

Which brings us back to that red carpet and Kyasia  navigating her avatar in a flowered hat down to the award ceremony. As the trophy floated from the announcer’s hands, Kyasia’s jaw dropped. 

She saw her name and her avatar’s smiling face flash up on the screen.

She had won! Kyasia was the first-ever winner of a virtual fashion award like this! 

“It means the world to me that people all over the world love my creations and support the thing I love to do everyday. Thank you so much… this is only the beginning,” she said as cSapphire. 

The applause may have been virtual, but the joy and excitement were very real.

Today, Kyasia and her avatar cSapphire continue leading the way in the virtual fashion world. She has sold 2.5 million virtual clothing items on her Roblox store and works for Roblox full time making new designs. She also collaborates with big name fashion brands, still using the same drawing program she started with.

And even though she’s at the top of her industry, she continues to experiment with new ideas. She’s grateful for all the adventures she gets to have in these virtual worlds and for all the stories that inspired her as a little girl. 

Kyasia knows that when she unleashes her imagination and expresses herself through fashion, anything is possible.