Just yesterday, Lisa Sabin-Wilson of WordPress for Dummies fame, announced a new venture called Allure Themes.
She was nice enough to grant me an interview here on Theme Lab to offer more insight on her decision to launch a commercial theme business, and more.
Read on to see the rest of the interview with Lisa. My questions will be in bold with the responses below.
Already being an established book author with WordPress for Dummies, as well as a succesful custom theme designer at E.Webscapes, why take the plunge into the commercial theme market? Why now, especially with the market being as saturated as it is?
I’m always interested in new challenges and trying things I’ve never done before. I’ve always done custom design work, but never experienced what it takes to release product for mass consumption – I saw this as an opportunity to try something new. Certainly not *new* by the standards of the overall commercial theme market – just new for me.
In terms of the market being saturated? Many argue that the custom design market is saturated with amazing competition, yet I do pretty good for myself in that arena, and nearly every custom design provider I know is turning away more work than they take because there is SO much work out there.
I don’t think it is for me, or anyone else to say that any market is saturated until it proves itself so through natural selection. That said, I’m a firm believer that there is always room for dessert.
I answered an interview question for Ryan Imel over at WPCandy recently on the future of WP Themes in 2011 and part of my answer included the emergence of themes targeted towards particular markets and niche areas – I see Allure doing exactly that with themes designed for women.
You described Allure Themes as a commercial theme provider providing themes “just for women.” How will the themes cater to women exactly?
Hard to explain, really – it’s a design style that may appeal to some women. As a custom theme provider, I do fill custom requests for people using existing frameworks or themes. A large portion of those clients of mine come to me with commercial themes and say “Make it girly” or “Pretty this up for me” – that kind of thing.
We’re talking colors, design elements, flourishes and special touches that create a particular look and feel that some women want.
We are talking “sun room” not “man cave”. Does that make sense? Note: since our announcement, some people assume this means Pink. While there will be pink – and periwinkle and black and purple and green and….you get it.
With themed designs that are geared toward areas that are important to women. Some examples? Mommy blogging, pregnancy blogging, health and beauty, women entrepreneurs, women in sports – I could go on, but you get the idea. The style I have in mind may not appeal to all female bloggers and site owners out there – but I do have a clear picture of what many are looking for just through the mountain of custom design requests from women that I take through E.Webscapes. This is not to say that existing commercial themes don’t fill this need; Allure just provides another option with a targeted focus.
It seems like iThemes will play an important role in terms of supporting the themes from Allure Themes. Why choose iThemes for this role? Can you give us any more insight on the role iThemes will play in the development and support of Allure Themes?
iThemes has a proven and successful history of providing and supporting commercial products in the WordPress community. They know what they are doing and are very good at what they do. Over the years, I have developed a solid relationship with the team at iThemes and have 100% faith in their abilities. Having iThemes on board is my dream team and Allure users know, from day one, that there is a solid, experienced team in place to support the themes, answer their questions and build community.
How does the organizational chart look? Because I am one person and they are a full team of people – iThemes brings stability to Allure from day one. iThemes is providing the backbone for support, sales, marketing and affiliate program management. Basically, they focus on all the back end stuff which leaves me free to focus on the creative design and development.
Yes, and no.
I am definitely going the way of parent/child themes at Allure because it absolutely makes the most sense for both myself, and our users. A parent/child theme set up is the best of both worlds for everyone – making it easy for me, the developer, to operate within a solid foundation and provide upgrades to our users that won’t break their own customizations and hard work. It’s a win-win.
That said, WordPress is my framework and Allure will not seek to re-invent that wheel. I intend to keep it simple, work within a clean parent theme that provides a solid, basic foundation for our users that will be there when they need us, and politely steps out of their way when they don’t.
You are also the author of BuddyPress for Dummies, which begs the question, are there any plans for offering BuddyPress themes as well as WordPress? What about other platforms?
Interesting you are not the only person to ask that question – funny how one little book can pigeon-hole a person, isn’t it?
Of course I want Allure to provide the features and functionality that our users seek. Over the past year at E.Webscapes, we’ve seen a literal explosion of BuddyPress site requests and have been doing quite a lot of BuddyPress work for our clients there, so I do see this as an ever growing, emerging need; especially as BuddyPress becomes more and more brilliant with each new release. Providing a BuddyPress Addon for Allure is definitely something I intend to pursue after I get the party started with the initial launch.
MassivePress launches this week and we are all very excited about it. By “we”, I mean our founders: myself, Jason Schuller, Cory Miller, Michael Torbert, Carl Hancock and Grant Griffiths — just a fabulous group of people, with amazing talent to boot! I can’t say enough about these guys – I love ‘em. I guess that’s why I am very happy to be a part of the core MassivePress group.
I can’t go into much more detail about MassivePress until its launch, at which point I will be more than happy to yap about it. But, in terms of Allure… I can say, without divulging too much; Allure is a stand out example of what our mission and purpose for MassivePress is all about. Our pre-launch web site has been online since November (to be replaced by our official site later this week with our launch). I’m not giving away any secrets when I quote our words found there: “A coalition of like-minded WordPress entrepreneurs who think we can do more together than apart.” Stay tuned.
Anything else you’d like to say about Allure Themes or anything else?
My email has been popping since the announcement of Allure on Wednesday morning – so let me answer some of the questions that have cropped up most often:
Launching Allure does not mean that E.Webscapes is going away. E.Webscapes continues to be a strong business and one that intend to continue building. On the contrary, I see Allure and E.Webscapes working together in perfect harmony.
Yes, Allure will port to popular theme frameworks and make child themes for iThemes Builder, Headway and Genesis available on AllureThemes.com. It makes sense to provide a full array of choice to our user base. (eventually, after our initial launch)
Yes, Allure will be fully 100% GPL across the board, no questions asked. iThemes, and myself, fully respect the GPL and intend to operate within.
Ok, one more – follow us on Twitter: @AllureThemes
Thanks so much for your time and interest, Leland – hopefully we bump into one another at another WordCamp sometime this year!
The interview above is unedited, aside from myself adding a few links. I’d like to thank Lisa for taking the time to do this interview, especially so soon after her announcement. This will definitely be an interesting commercial theme venture to keep an eye on in the future.
Oh, and if Twitter isn’t your thing, you can also subscribe to Allure Themes’ newsletter to keep up with the latest updates.
What do you think of Allure Themes?
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