“Women control 83% of spending in the real world, so the virtual world better watch out,” says Casey Golden, an expert on the virtual world of NFTs.
The e-commerce expert and luxury fashion exec was an early adopter of NFTs and is among a small but powerful group of women determined to establish female dominance in the new but fast-growing industry (NFT trading volume in the third quarter rose 704%). These women are set on making sure we don’t repeat mistakes of the past, like in the white, male dominated venture world where less than three percent of venture funding goes to female founded companies. Because the NFT market is in its infancy, now is the time for women to establish their dominance.
What are NFTs?
NFT stands for non-fungible token.
Think of an NFT as digital, exclusive proof of ownership of a unique asset – like a receipt that you can’t lose and that can’t be duplicated or faked. It’s a secure way of proving that something is yours. And that “something” can be just about anything digital, like art, a tweet or a trading collectible or even something physical, like a real-life experience or concert ticket.
NFTs are “non-fungible,” meaning they are unique and can’t be replaced or swapped with something else. And anyone with a working knowledge of digital art can create, or mint, one. Once available on a marketplace, collectors buy and sell NFTs, often for exorbitant sums. The average selling price of one of the 10,000 CryptoPunks (thought to be the original NFT collection) is about 110 Ethereum, or more than $450,000.
Women in NFT
NFTs, and the entire decentralized blockchain ecosystem, are giving rise to significant new opportunities. As consumers spend more time in the metaverse (the virtual world of shopping, gaming and socializing in which we express ourselves via avatars), opportunities for NFTs abound and many of these opportunities are being seized by women.
Some, like Lila de la Chesnaye, have become expert collectors of NFTs, buying and selling the digital assets using a disciplined investment approach. “97% of NFTs are going to go to zero,” she says, “and 3% will be fantastic.” So, how do you find the 3%? De la Chesnaye looks for 3 important things:
1. Scarcity – is there a limited supply that will support demand over time? Many digital collections, such as the popular Desperate ApeWives, were minted with 10,000 unique apes and no additional apes will be added to the collection.
2. Utility – does the NFT provide something that others want? Digital horses have become extremely popular and desired because, unlike other collectibles that can just be viewed and traded, digital horses have their own unique DNA and can be bred in a virtual stud farm and raced in daily virtual events.
3. Community – does owning the NFT give you access to something you desire? That may mean access to a bloodline of coveted horses or access to a killer party on a yacht.
She also looks for NFTs that espouse values that align with her own. For example, her collection includes DinoMonks, which speaks to mental health awareness, OnChainMonkey, which highlights respect, integrity, sustainability and experimentation and Cryptoys, which empower, educate and entertain.
Golden, found a way to marry her expertise improving the customer experience for premium and luxury brands with the significant interest in digital collectible assets. Her company, Luxlock, helps brands merge the digital and physical shopping experiences across all channels, including the metaverse, often by creating fashion NFTs.
A consumer, for example, can buy a $100,000 crocodile leather jacket from luxury leather legend Robert Comstock and receive both the custom fit jacket as well as a matching NFT version of it for their avatar – kind of a modern day, digital “gift with purchase.” For luxury brands, where purchases are often not based on price, but on craftsmanship, exclusivity, experience and rarity, “offering a unique NFT is a much better use of marketing funds than an Instagram post,” she says.
“Brands are still figuring out omnichannel that includes the metaverse,” says Golden. “They don’t have departments for this, so we’ll take it from here.”
Michelle Abbs, herself an owner of both a digital horse and a Desperate ApeWives collectible, is approaching the crypto market from a slightly different angle. She is the managing director of Mana Tech, a tech and innovation ecosystem being developed in downtown Miami that embraces the crypto and NFT communities. She views herself as a community builder and provider of resources to her tech and NFT communities.
One of her biggest projects is today’s NFT BZL, a conference in Miami (just days before the crowds descend on the city for the famous Art Basel art fair) that will bring together the biggest names in technology and innovation to inspire, educate and teach people how to enter the NFT market.
“Jumping in early gives us an opportunity to create what the core functionality and future of the NFT market will be,” says Abbs. “Even though the learning curve is steep, it’s important that we include more women and people of color.”
Bringing NFTs To the Masses
Many consumers are still skeptical of NFTs because, quite frankly, they don’t understand them. “They are still siloed with the tech crowd,” says Abbs. But the more physical relationships consumers have with NFTs, the easier it will be for consumers to bridge the “mind meld,” says Golden, and we will begin to see more mass adoption.
Shopify, for example, is running a beta where brands can sell NFTs on their Shopify e-commerce stores. Consumers can buy a dress and an NFT and simply pay with a credit card. Similarly, the Miami Heat basketball team has renamed its arena FTX Arena, to reflect a partnership with the cryptocurrency marketplace. The Heat will also incorporate the FTX brand and its currencies across team contests, promotions, digital content, ads and community events.
Women continue to be underrepresented in the emerging and lucrative world of NFTs. Thankfully, an influential group of female creators, collectors and tech innovators are jumping into the NFT space feet first to make the market more inclusive and more accessible to all. Maybe now is the time to go buy your digital horse.