Michelle Reeves is a Founding BFF. The Founding BFFs are comprised of more than 100 female and non-binary leaders across crypto, tech, design, business, and more. Just like our community, some are new to crypto, and others are full-on experts.
Who: Michelle Reeves, Mavion Co-Founder and CEO
Michelle started her career in Australia, in sports and entertainment, working on the Sydney Olympic games in sponsorships, a path that eventually took her to New York. Over the years she held several roles in advertising and marketing, including as a Director at IMG and working across different industries including sport, fashion and science.
In 2007 she set up a winery in Napa Valley, a passion she eventually went into full-time and dedicated the next decade of her life to. Ten years later she pivoted to co-founding her next venture, The Accessory Junkie, this time in fashion. The idea behind The Accessory Junkie was to curate accessories from independent artisans and jewelry designers from all over the world and sell them online. An idea that Michelle, along with her co-founder Andrea, took to the Techstars accelerator program.
In her Web3 iteration, Michelle is a co-founder of Mavion, a 10k PFP project that aims to bridge the gap between the worlds of fashion, gaming and metaverse through NFTs while empowering women and creating new wealth generation opportunities for them. During NFT NYC Mavion hosted over 30 events for women and announced a collaboration with the Rebecca Minkoff fashion brand to create a capsule collection of NFTs that will unlock digital and experiential benefits for holders, as well as a limited edition physical bag.
Her TLDR: NFTs are changing our idea of ownership and economic empowerment, particularly for women whose time is often overused and underpaid.
I started dabbling in crypto back in 2016, not in a particularly meaningful way but enough to pay attention to the space and to want to understand, learn and seek out like-minded people. No one was talking about Bitcoin at dinner parties back then so if you did come across someone who was also interested in crypto, you would very quickly form this connection with them. But it wasn’t until 2020 when my co-founder and I were in the Techstars accelerator with our web2 business that I really started thinking about the application and use cases of blockchain technology in the real world, and the world fashion in particular.
When I started Accessory Junkie with my co-founder Andrea Siegel back in 2017, we wanted to seek out all these amazing independent accessory designers from around the world, be it Colombia, Australia or Singapore, and bring them to a larger audience of consumers through an e-commerce platform. However, turning limited edition artisan pieces of jewelry into a scalable business was a difficult task to accomplish without sacrificing the one thing that made these accessories so special – their scarcity.
So the big question I was trying to find the answer to was - how do you scale scarcity? These small independent designers that we were partnering with did not want to mass produce - that’s not what their craft was about.
While at Techstars, we started talking about using blockchain to scale our business and all the signs were pointing towards the metaverse but in early 2020 the consumer was not ready for it. What we now know as web3 was all about gaming back then. A year later, the solution appeared in the form of NFTs [non-fungible tokens] and the idea of Mavion was born, our NFT project that now exists alongside The Accessory Junkie.
Mavion is an NFT that is a beautiful artwork as well as utility. I think of it as a bridge between the world of fashion and the logical next step in technology, Web3. A way to scale the artisan fashion accessories, produced by 16 independent local designers from 9 different countries, by cloning them into digital assets that can be monetised in gaming and the metaverse as digital wearables, all while producing royalties for both the original designers and the NFT holders. And it is not just the accessory in the NFT but all the attributes of it - the make-up, the hair, the background that can be leveraged in digital wearable, skins, avatars. A woman’s time is overused and underpaid. With Mavion, your NFT can go to work and earn you a passive income through royalties.
I like to think of fashion as a bridge to get people across into this new space, not by asking them to create a whole new life in the metaverse, but by adding value to their existing real lives, where an NFT can be a tool to scale their limited edition accessory collection, or a way for the holder to have ownership in a meaningful way.
There is so much resistance from mainstream consumers about jumping into the metaverse or Web3. It is new, it is unknown. When I was still at IMG, back in 2007 I remember trying to convince my colleagues that this new platform called Facebook should be used by sports stars [whom the agency represented] to engage with their fans directly. At the time, there was much resistance and skepticism about this new way of marketing. I feel like we are seeing the same resistant behavior about Web3 today - it is a fear of change when a whole new system comes in. Which is why I think education is important - we went on a month-long roadshow earlier this year and onboarded close to 2,000 women into Web3, helping them set up their crypto wallets and teaching the basics of NFTs. Women want to learn and participate in this space and feel empowered. Empowering women can take on so many forms, through education, entertainment, brand partnerships or sports sponsorships – it doesn’t have to fit in one box.
Our kids, the gen alpha, will not be living in web2 platforms like TikTok or Instagram, they will exist in games and metaverses that they have built themselves. In that world interoperability is key, so those niche spaces can exist in the same network. The new generations have different value systems where their digital identities or avatars are more valuable to them. And even with fashion, I think one day we'll look back at what we are wearing today and think how mundane and one-dimensional our clothes are. Why can’t we wear accessories that spontaneously ignite into flames or express our emotions when we are wearing them. In this new world - all of this seems possible. But the big barrier is how to make it easy, so the user experience is one click and not 7 different apps and wallets that you need to download in order to enjoy it.
MAVION NFTs give consumers a seat at the table with their favorite fashion and lifestyle brands. Our first collaboration is with Rebecca Minkoff, an iconic American fashion designer who has been at the forefront of innovation for 17 years.
We split this collab into two drops: The first drop was in July 2022 and gave holders unique benefits such as tickets to her show at New York Fashion Week. The second drop launches on October 12 and will give holders lifelong benefits to the brand so they can claim monthly and seasonal perks such as gift cards, co-design a limited edition bag with the Minkoff design team, access to virtually meet with Rebecca and her team, invitations to future brand events and fashion week shows, exclusive discounts and more.
This is the NFT that puts the consumer inside the inner circle of the Minkoff world. One of the most exciting and unique benefits for holders is the long term financial benefits holders receive as we launch a digital asset of a limited edition Rebecca Minkoff bag for future gaming and metaverse partnerships. Holders will receive royalties from the digital asset partnership.
The future doesn’t need to grow in one particular way. Our growth is multi-dimensional and is an ecosystem. Our web2 platform is one flywheel but within the realms of Web3 we are creating a machine where multiple flywheels will connect together. We started with a genesis collection of PFPs as a base line, but then we are creating digital assets and collectibles that are revenue generating for our holders, we are creating ways for our holders to express themselves across metaverses, we are creating wear-to-earn and entertainment experiences for them.
We have an opportunity to build something that has never existed before. As projects, we have an opportunity to create a whole new culture of truly global teams that are 24/7, culture created on all new terms and metrics. The rules are still being written as we speak.
This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.
Liya Dashkina is a VC, contributor to a number of DAOs, Web3 consultant, chapter lead at the Australian DeFi Association and an advocate for women in Web3.