This millennial quit her job to create an NFT collection and create a lifestyle brand

SINGAPORE — While some may view non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a fad, some serious money can be made for those selling in this trendy cryptocurrency space.

Ask Chanel Lee, who sold her collection of 7,600 NFT bread cartoons called Tasty Toastys for 0.02 Eth or S$87 each in February. His next goal is to create a global lifestyle brand based on these cartoons over the next decade.

“I already wanted to make it a branding and licensing business. The design was intentionally kept simple – I want it to be the next ‘Hello Kitty,'” Lee said in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Singapore.

After more than four years in the corporate world, including securing a two-year scholarship, Lee decided to step out of his comfort zone and focus on creating his NFT collection. based on an idea she had to create household items under a Toastys brand.

Her interest in NFT began in June 2021 as she prepared for an interview at a local metaverse startup. Although Lee did not join the company, she began to read and understand the metaverse. She got a job in automation technology but left after a month to start working on her Toastys idea selling NFTs.

“I’m the type of person who, if I do something, I’ll throw myself into it. If I worked during the day but also worked on the NFT project at night, I wouldn’t be one hundred percent in either place, so I thought, let me do this crazy thing and quit my job because timing matters in the NFT world,” Lee said.

Lee got into the project and started buying NFTs and doodling Toastys. Named after the feeling of comfort and warmth, each Tasty Toastys NFT is a randomly generated bread cartoon that features a unique combination of bread flavor, spread, filling, and facial expression.

Lee, 30, created all of the cartoon’s elements – enough to create more than three million combinations – in less than two months before the typing process.

“I’m not a formal trained artist, but that’s okay because with NFTs I think it’s less about the art and more about the joy it brings and how it can be memorable,” Lee said.

In November 2021, it introduced Tasty Toastys to the market for the first time. In his own words, it was a “failure” as the NFTs were “highly priced at 0.058 Eth during a bear market.” Lee also felt that she had not built a large enough international network, so Tasty Toastys failed to gain traction at that time.

She reworked the collection and relaunched it on January 31. The simple and cute designs helped the collection go viral and were sold out within a week.

As a brand of the internet age, Tasty Toastys is embracing online jargon, such as adopting the slogan “Let’s take this bread”, which means making money. But behind the references to meme culture is a mission to grow a loyal community, backed by strong business fundamentals.

Each week, Lee hosts a gathering on Twitter Spaces, where holders of Tasty Toastys NFT can engage with each other in audio conversations. There is an exclusive Discord server for members who prefer to type, and since March Tasty Toastys has started hosting events in the metaverse. At Decentraland party, revelers can wear a Tasty Toastys backpack and dance to a live DJ set, while their NFTs float over their shoulders.

“We hope to create more of these giveaways for our community so that in every metaverse they go to, they can show off their Toastys-related digital products,” Lee said. “Our community can then enter each metaverse as a group, making the community ‘sticky’ down the line.”

Looking ahead, Lee hopes to expand the Tasty Toastys brand to include collaborations with other NFT artists and metaverses. She also leverages her NFT background by serving as an advisor at Metapoly, which describes itself as “the first decentralized metaverse land mogul that helps users invest in the metaverse.”

Lee admits that success in the relatively unknown metaverse space can seem deceptively easy, but points out that NFTs are not a get-rich-quick scheme.

“What makes the project special will not be the NFTs. That will be the business model,” Lee said. “Think about it like you would a regular business.”

Why is your NFT collection called “Tasty Toastys”?

“Toastys” is misspelled because the origin is the feel of what the toast is, which is warm and cozy rather than the toast itself. I purposely kept it because it’s the brand’s original sentiment.

It was a feeling I was looking for rather than something tangible, but I can’t have a brand without a mascot or something that people understand visually. With NFTs, it’s a lot about meme culture, so we decided to make a pun on the word “toasty” in slices of toast just to make it more visual. It is also similar to other NFT projects with funny names or alliteration.

How are Tasty Toastys different from other NFTs, and why should people collect them?

We decided to give all the marketing rights to the owners of the NFT. For example, if you own a Tasty Toasty that has a smiley face, kaya spread, and grape juice, you’re allowed to do whatever they want with it – create your own brand or business however you see fit. I’m a big champion of that because if we hold IP (intellectual property) too tightly, it doesn’t give the community the freedom to run with their imagination and it really challenges what we think about IP .

A commercial company publishing an NFT would not allow it to be marketed. But because Tasty Toastys was natively born in the NFT era, it’s worth experimenting with this IP openness, and it’s what sets us apart from other brands.

How did Tasty Toastys become a hit with NFT collectors? Was there a spark that led to the collection’s out-of-print status?

I think pricing NFTs lower than others helped because it was a combination of their low price and my openness to talking about them in the public space that gave people confidence in Tasty Toastys. Because I was active and opening up public NFT discussions, people saw that there was a little less risk in trying the space with my project.

Market timing is also very important – if you’re not caught in a bull market, it may not fly.

How did your friends and family react when you decided to pursue creating NFT full-time?

I have a close circle of longtime friends. They knew I was obsessed with NFTs all the time, so when I told them I was doing it full time, they weren’t surprised. They were all very supportive and they knew I’m someone who can’t sit still. I think they just felt like “this was just another crazy thing Chanel was going to do”.

My brother helped me through this process of creating NFT. He has his full time job so for him it’s a hobby where he helps me in his spare time. He talks about strategy and helps me study technology because he is more trained in technology than me.

What advice do you have for aspiring NFT creators?

The first thing people need to understand is that NFTs aren’t the be-all and end-all of anything you’re trying to work on. I see them as a vehicle of value, so think like you would a regular business. It’s more than art – you need to think about the value you want to deliver to your community and whether NFTs make sense for that.

But for pure artist work, selling would be the same as before NFTs – I think people buy into the artist’s story a little more than the art. Twitter for NFT is where the community is, so start building a community of your fans on Twitter because it makes your life as an artist so much easier. Marketing and community involvement make a big difference in name recognition.

What is the future for women in the NFT and the Metaverse?

It is human nature to aspire to quality relationships, regardless of our individual backgrounds. We are already seeing diversity flourish more on Web3 as a greater proportion of people are now striving to be more inclusive, so the future looks bright, in my opinion.

I’ve found there’s a joy and comfort in presenting yourself as whoever you want to be in the metaverse, female or male. Above all, I had great experiences and I didn’t let my sex be limited.

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