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The case of female-centric NFT projects

gm everyone,
“Investing in female-led or female-focused startups is good business.”
Those, who have been following been this newsletter for a while, know that I’ve championed this mantra for many many years.
In web2, there still isn’t a lot of funding going towards female founders, but it is interesting to see that in web3, ‘female-centric projects’ have become the latest trend to invest in.
If I were to read about this on Twitter or in some news headlines 5 years ago, I would have definitely jumped into a range of these projects. Empowering women, supporting female artists, being part of a community - what’s not to love?
But we’re in 2022 and I have witnessed a bunch of things in the past few years of running Blooming Founders that I can see play out in a similar fashion in the NFT space now.
So today, I wanted share my perspective on female-centric NFT projects in the ‘Learning about web3’ section. I hope it will help you to do you own research and form your own strategies.
Before I leave you to it, I also wanted to note that this newsletter will come out on Sundays moving forward since my Friday afternoons have been busy lately and I found myself rushing to meet a ‘deadline’ that I’ve set myself.
By moving to a Sunday publication time, I’m not stressing out on Fridays anymore and giving myself more thinking space which will hopefully also result in better content. 😊
Until next week, keep blooming!
Lu
Founder of Blooming Founders
Mantra of the Week
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Interesting Reads
Lisa Xu, VC at FirstMark, shares some thoughts on community evolution from Web2 to Web3: DAOs: Communities of the Future
Forbes wrote about The Women of the Metaverse.
Head of Growth roles have been one of the most popular and competitive roles out there. If you are looking for one, I’d recommend to read this first: Why Head of Growth Hires Go Wrong
Here are four of the most important marketing lessons you can learn from Disney to create a bit of “Disney Magic” for your own brand: The Most Important Lessons Disney Can Teach You About Marketing
Learning About Web3
The Case of Female-Centric NFT Projects
Female pfp projects have become a trend (also referred to as ‘meta’) in the NFT world.
The first successful collection was World of Women, then came Crypto Chicks, then Boss Beauties, then Alpha Girl Club, then Crypto Coven, then Flower Girls, then Girlies…. well, you get the gist.
There are now a lot of female-centric projects and they all seem to be about the same things:
  • female empowerment
  • support of female artists
  • support of female charities
  • inclusion of female and non-binary people in web3
  • a fantastic community
I have seen the exact same dynamic play out in the startup world between 2017 and 2020, when the term ‘female founder’ became popular and all of a sudden, there were female-centric networks, events, clubs, co-working spaces, accelerator programmes popping up everywhere.
All were marketed under the banner of ‘supporting female founders’, but not every player actually meant it or truly understood what they were doing. Some others did, of course, and it was amazing to have more real support in the ecosystem.
As the founder of the first platform and community serving female founders in London (which I started back in 2015, way before the term got trendy), this is what goes through my head when I look at female-centric NFT projects now:
1) Are they really supporting women?
The moment something becomes a trend, you can be sure that there will be a bunch of people jumping on the marketing bandwagon.
In web2, this was mostly done to look good as a company. In web3, it’s clearly done to make profits.
If you see that the only female person on the team of an NFT collection is the artist, then she is likely the token woman on the team (= red flag).
Then, follow what the team is saying about ‘women in NFTs/web3’. Does it sound like they understand how nuanced the conversation around gender, intersectionality, representation and privilege is? Or are they purely waving the ‘girlbossification’ flag because it’s trendy and it sounds empowering?
If the founders claim that they are female, but are not doxxed, then do some extra checks to see if this is actually true (remember, the web3 mantra is ‘Don’t trust, verify’).
FameLadySquad is a project that launched in July 2021 as the ‘first generative all-female avatar NFT collection’ and marketed as ‘created by women for women’.
However, just one month after, it was found that the creators of the project were not female at all, but, in fact, were a bunch of dudes who created the project purely to monetise the narrative of building female communities.
2) Am I willing to buy something, that may be piggybacking on a trend, for profits sake?
When it comes to female-centric NFTs, there are two parts to consider: one is the ‘female’ part and the other is the investment part.
In Blooming Founders’ past, it has happened a few times that our concepts and activities were copied by other people/entities. These people/entities would spent more marketing money and/or leverage a stronger network to market something successfully.
As a founder, I obviously didn’t love it, but there was also not much I could have done about it. It’s a free market after all and even in the ‘supporting women’ space, there is such a thing as competition.
Now looking at NFTs, I can see that some projects have a lot more backing than others. They are started by fairly famous (or very famous) women who have a strong rolodex of contacts and enough money to hire a great team to execute.
I have seen them building on code or ideas of others, and while I don’t love these ‘corporate vibes’, it falls in the realm of open source development or under the ‘same idea, different execution’ bracket.
So in these cases, I would still invest if I think that the project will do well (profit is profit after all), but I will be more looking to buy purely for investment purposes vs. becoming an active community member.
I also keep my mind open here as you never know, they might be launching more original things in the future.
3) Is there any evidence of odd behaviour, lack of integrity or even theft?
Apart from the ‘corporate vibes’, there are other things that are definite no-go’s. It pains me to say it, but #NotAllWomen is true and valid, also in the NFT space.
Not all women want to support other women. Some women also are very okay with taking advantage of other women and putting up a front, knowing it will benefit themselves first and foremost.
Just yesterday, it was discovered that one NFT from the Crypto Chicks 1/1 collection (the initial collection that was launched in 2021 before the 10K pfp collection) had an artwork of a three-eyed woman that looks almost identical to another artwork created by an artist called Amanda Costa, back in 2018.
Here is a side-by-side comparison:
Amanda Costa's artwork (2018) on the left. Crypto Chicks (2021) on the right.
Amanda Costa's artwork (2018) on the left. Crypto Chicks (2021) on the right.
You don’t have to be an art expert to realise that this is plagiarised, but the interesting thing is that also Amanda seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from another stock picture - or even this journal cover:
I understand that most artists ‘learn’ from examples when trying to hone their skills and we might be looking at a chain of copying art styles, which is a separate topic to discuss.
But in this case, the Crypto Chicks art is not ‘inspired by’, it’s 100% traced from Amanda’s art and it is inexcusable to me that Ms_Polly, the Crypto Chicks artist, was not transparent about it from the beginning. Even worse, she did not really accept any responsibility after accusations came out yesterday.
Can you really trust an NFT project that tries to gaslight its own members by telling them that this is not a copy? 🤔
It also turns out, that this was not a singular incident. Also the second collection, called Baby Chicks, is very clearly traced from a stock picture:
Stock picture on the left. 'Hand drawn' Baby Chick NFT on the right.
Stock picture on the left. 'Hand drawn' Baby Chick NFT on the right.
And the story goes on: when a Crypto Chicks holder got scammed and lost their NFTs a week ago, the team jumped in and took the liberty to ‘show solidarity’ by changing the metadata of their stolen NFT and turning it from the original art to this:
This might look like an act of support from the outside, but it goes grossly against the principles of web3 and decentralisation.
Once you buy and own an NFT, only you should be able to decide what happens to the art that is linked to it. Creators, who change the metadata of artworks unannounced, are suspicious to say the least.
All in all, if you are an investor, then integrity is one of the most important aspects (if not THE most important aspect) of an NFT project. I hope that after reading this newsletter, you are aware that it is not all gold that glitters.
You will also find that most people who buy NFTs are not investors, but simply trading volatility. Don’t confuse this with actual interest in the project, especially when the project is said to be mission-driven.
In fact, it would be a good idea to gauge how many people in the community are holders and how many are traders, so you can align your own strategies with what you see.
That’s all for this week. I know it’s been a long one, but it’s a very important topic to me and there is a lot to say.
There are obviously also really good and solid female-centric projects, more about that next week. 😊
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Lu Li
Lu Li @houseofli

Your weekly dose of insights on NFTs, web3 and startup growth.
Until next Sunday, keep blooming and wagmi! ✨

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