Interview With Oliver Maroney on NFTs for Jewelry Brands
In episode #181 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my interview Oliver Maroney, the general manager of Web3 & NFT’s at Cameo. If you have even an ounce of curiosity about Web3 and NFTs, then please check out this interview because we break everything down in easy-to-understand terms.
I saw Oliver talk at JCK and then subsequently reached out to him because I liked his no-nonsense, non-pretentious ways of explaining things. I thought he’d be the perfect expert for my audience, and I was so grateful he agreed to do this interview. With his unique background in media and sports journalism, he’s not a Silicon Valley tech type who only knows how to speak the language to other savvy tech industry people.
- Oliver explains Web3 and NFTs in the simplest terms possible for our beginner listeners.
- He also explains the potential that NFTs can have for jewelry brands as well as how they can fit into a digital marketing mix and elevate the customer experience.
- You’ll have some great resources and know how to take your first steps to learning more about NFTs and how they can support your marketing efforts.
Check out the transcript below.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 0:08
Welcome to the Joy Joya Podcast, where “jewelry is joy”, and everyone is encouraged to add more polish and sparkle to the world with topics ranging from marketing tips to business development, best practices and beyond. This is the go-to podcast for ambitious jewelry industry dreamers like you.
Hi, I’m your host, Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and professionals so they can thrive while adding more beauty to the world. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands, and I’m excited to share my passion with you. As we all know, “jewelry is joy”, so I’ll gladly seize any opportunity to talk about it.
This is episode 181, and today I’m going to be sharing my interview with Oliver Maroney, the general manager of Web3 and NFTs at Cameo. You probably just heard that sentence and felt your brain melting, right? What are all these acronyms? “I’m done. I’m tuning out.” So many words that probably sound foreign to you. Stop! Please keep listening and watching if you have even an ounce of curiosity about Web3 and NFTs. And if you want to know what’s in store for digital marketing, for customer engagement, for community building in the future, then please check out this interview because we break down everything into really easy-to-understand terms.
I saw Oliver speak at JCK this year and then subsequently reached out to him because I really liked his no-nonsense, non-pretentious ways of explaining things. I thought he would be the perfect expert for my audience, and I was so grateful that he agreed to do this interview. With his unique background in media and sports journalism, he’s not a typical Silicon Valley tech type who only knows how to speak the language to other tech industry people.
In this episode, Oliver explains Web3 and NFTs in the simplest terms possible for our beginner listeners and viewers. He also explains the potential that NFTs can have for jewelry brands, as well as how they can fit into a digital marketing mix and elevate the customer experience. By the end of this episode, you’ll have some great resources and know how to take your first steps to learning more about NFTs and how they can support your marketing efforts.
But before we get to the solid gold of this episode, I’d like to remind you that this podcast has both an audio and video component. So you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube by searching “Joy Joya”. I love creating this content as my active service to you, my awesome listeners and viewers, and you can support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe, but also to leave a rating and review on iTunes, which helps other jewelry dreamers find it too.
In this segment of the podcast, I give out my Sparkle Award for the week. During this segment, I highlight a jewelry brand that’s impressing me with their marketing. The Sparkle Award is also interactive, so you can visit sparkleaward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.
This week’s Sparkle Award goes to Valerie Madison Jewelry because I love how this brand is engaging on TikTok. And if you’ve been looking for examples of how you can be a jewelry brand on TikTok and connect with your target customers and really create unique content, then you need to check out Valerie Madison Jewelry on TikTok. If you’re not familiar with this brand, they’re an engagement and everyday fine jewelry brand based in Seattle and founded by Black-Latina jewelry designer Valerie Madison. They have 4,917 followers and more than 130,000 likes. This fine jewelry brand is absolutely killing it on the platform. Their videos feature things like customer stories, new product launches, behind-the-scenes videos, along with videos of the designer herself talking about the products. And those are my personal favorites. As I mentioned, you can visit sparkleaward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.
All right, let’s discuss some recent news related to jewelry or marketing. Each week, I share my thoughts about three relevant articles, and you can get those links by visiting joyjoya.com/signup. Once you’re on the VIP list, you’ll receive our weekly digest filled with new episode announcements.
So the first article comes directly from the Pinterest Newsroom. Just a few days ago, the platform announced that it’s leaning very heavily into its shopping experience, and improving it for the brands and merchants that use Pinterest to connect with their customers. So they recently released several new innovative merchant features to help retailers realize success on the platform. I’m going to mention three of those.
So number one: Product Tagging on Pins. This is Pinterest’s shopping feature that allows merchants to turn their lifestyle Pins into shoppable Pins, and it helps pinners move easily from inspiration to action. So, with this product tagging feature, merchants can add products from their catalog to their seen images.
Number two: Video in Catalog. Pinterest is continuing to invest in video with merchants by enabling video assets in their product catalog and giving pinners a view of the product from multiple angles when making a purchase decision. And we all know that that’s super important with jewelry, and showcasing all the details and features of a jewelry piece.
And then number three: the Shop Tab on Business Profiles. So merchants can create a more inspiring storefront. And for those pinners who are at the stage where they are ready to buy, they can immediately go to that Shop tab and take action and make a purchase.
The next piece of news was actually a tweet. I’ve recently gotten back on the Twitter platform lately because there’s so much exciting marketing news and industry news on there. I was an early adopter of Twitter back when it first came out, and then I left the platform for a while and lapsed. But I’ve really been interested by it lately and have been coming back to engage with it again. So this tweet comes from social media expert Matt Navarra, and he just basically shared a really helpful visual graph that shows the most popular platforms for US consumers who’ve watched livestream shopping in 2022.
So if you’re looking to try livestream shopping, adding it to your marketing and customer experience mix, if you listen to my episode 172 called “Livestream Shopping for Jewelry Brands”, you may be wondering about the most popular platforms for US consumers who watched live shopping in 2022. So, according to this graph from Matt Navarro, the top one is Facebook Live, followed by YouTube Live, then Amazon Live, Instagram Live, and TikTok Live. I was honestly very surprised to see Instagram as the fourth on the list. But it also does make sense because most of the livestream shopping events that I personally follow and check out are happening on Facebook Live. So I can definitely see how that is the most popular platform.
And then finally, the last article comes from Reader’s Digest UK, and it’s called “How to Improve Email Deliverability and Inbox Better”. When it comes to email marketing, one of the top gripes that I really hear, especially from small jewelry business owners, is they don’t want to annoy their subscribers and/or they don’t really think they have anything important to say or share in regular emails. But I’m here to tell you and to confirm what this article says: that emailing less frequently is actually counterproductive and hurting you more than it’s helping you.
This is a really great quote from the article. I’m literally just going to read it because I could not have said it better: “Erratic broadcast activity,” so like not having a consistent schedule with how you connect through email, “can lead to lower email sender scores and IP rejection or a poor IP reputation. Maintain a regular schedule with your emails to avoid sending spikes. When you send emails consistently to your subscribers, they begin to expect your emails and trust you better. Wait too long, and recipients will forget they were interested in subscribing in the first place. On the other hand, sending emails too frequently increases the likelihood that they will annoy your subscribers or end up in the spam folder.”
When you send less frequently, I’m talking about once a month, whenever you feel like it, there’s actually a very good chance you’ll end up in spam or just ignored because people don’t even remember that they signed up for your emails. It’s kind of like, I don’t know, in dating. Let’s say you’re kind of dating this flaky person, and they just call you whenever they feel like meeting up for a drink, but they don’t have any sort of consistency. You’re not going to trust that person. You’re not going to trust that they’re actually in it to get to know you. And I feel like it’s the same with email frequency. So keep a regular cadence of once a week, or if you can’t maintain that, once every other week, because that once a month schedule is hurting you more than you think.
As I mentioned, if you want to get the links to the articles I share in this segment of the podcast, you can become a Joy Joya VIP by visiting joyjoya.com/signup. Okay, without further delay, let’s get to my interview with Oliver.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 11:01
Hey, Oliver, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, I’m really excited to have you as a guest today!
Oliver Maroney 11:06
Thanks a lot for having me. I appreciate it. I’m a big fan. I’ve watched a few of them now and kind of got privy to how your interviews go, and I love the conversations. So I’m excited to get started here.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 11:19
Awesome! So tell our listeners and viewers a little bit about your position at Cameo Pass. What do you do there? What’s your job?
Oliver Maroney 11:27
Yeah, so I actually work at Cameo. A lot of people know us as—like the video—basically getting a celebrity to wish you a happy birthday or an anniversary. Things of that nature. So we’re basically a marketplace for a ton of different celebrities across the board, whether it be an athlete or a musician or one of your favorite stars that you see on TV. And you can request them to do a video.
Oliver Maroney 11:58
I’ve worked at Cameo [for] almost three years now. And my current position at Cameo is head of Web3—everything Web3 and NFTs. And so I co-founded our entry into NFTs. And for people who don’t know, that’s a non-fungible token called “Cameo Pass.” And so I moved into this role about eight to nine months ago. I had been working on it previously for about another six months to a year, kind of on the side as I was working at Cameo. But yes, that’s kind of my role.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 12:36
That’s really exciting!
Oliver Maroney 12:38
Laryssa Wirstiuk 12:39
So how did you first get involved with Web3 and NFTs? What drew you into this space?
Oliver Maroney 12:44
Yes. So I was in a previous role. I was a sports journalist. I covered basketball. And I got into Cameo by managing sports talent on the platform. So, you know, your favorite athlete or whatever I would manage, and outside of my work time, I would spend—basically, you can kind of see my backdrop, I’ve got a bunch of sports cards. I’m not a huge memorabilia person. I know enough athletes to not really ask for autographs or things like that. But I always found it super interesting to collect sports cards because it’s almost like you’re investing in a player and their potential long-term trajectory as an athlete or what they turn into essentially. So I love that aspect of it.
Oliver Maroney 13:39
NBA Top Shot was one of the first ever NFT and Web3 kinds of platforms out there, brought to the masses. A friend of mine was in very early, and he was also into sports cards like me. And so we were chatting back and forth. He’s like, “Hey, I found this thing called NBA Top Shot. It’s like these digital highlights that you can own, and they have different numbers to them.” And at first, I was just like, “You’re crazy! This doesn’t make any sense. Why would I pay $100 for a highlight on the internet? I can just watch it on YouTube.” But in the back of things, that’s how I got into it.
Oliver Maroney 14:19
And as I started to understand sports cards, digital highlights—all this stuff is basically the same. A sports card doesn’t necessarily have any value. The value is being placed on it by what the market deems it to be. Whether it’s digital [or] whether it’s physical—yes you can hold one and the other one you can’t technically hold—you start to understand, though, very quickly that the digital aspect of this just makes things easier and more streamlined.
Oliver Maroney 14:50
And so that’s what really drew me into this entire space, is the idea that I could buy a highlight of my favorite player. Right now, I could take a card off my desk—I wouldn’t know the condition it’s in, I couldn’t tell you—I would have to send it into an authenticator or a grader to get it graded, and then hope it comes back in the right thing. And then I would have to list it on eBay. My eBay listing may be below other people’s listings. I don’t know who’s actually selling for what. I don’t know what the actual value is. And so what NFTs does is it basically streamlines all that. I buy the highlight. I know exactly what the highlight is trading for via all the marketplace. And so I can then either trade it, sell it, keep it, whatever it may be, but you always have that value attachment to it, based on what you’re buying. And so that’s what intrigued me most about it initially.
Oliver Maroney 15:47
And over time, I started to realize that people were building massive communities around this space. Some of my closest friends today are from Top Shot, a year and a half [or] two years ago, when we first started. And so we all are in this group chat. And it’s just really fun to be able to be in a community of people very similar to your country club or even when you go to JCK. There are all these little cliques of people, right? They all work in the same space, and know each other very well. And they see each other two [or] three [or] four times a year. It’s the same concept, just digitally. And so that’s what really got me involved and started in Web3.
Oliver Maroney 16:28
And from there, I started buying what most people would call traditional NFTs, or Ethereum-based NFT. So it’s a cryptocurrency that’s widely used for NFT purchasing, buying, selling, and trading. And so I got into that, and the same group chat that I had from the NBA Top Shot stuff migrated over to that slowly. And so we’re all doing the same thing. And every day is a new experience. It was fun. It’s exciting. And that’s how I got into it.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 17:02
Yes, that sports card analogy, I would have never thought of it because I personally am not a big sports fan. But it makes so much sense the way that you just explained it. And it all seems like such a natural fit for you.
Oliver Maroney 17:14
Yes, and you can parlay this into whatever business kind of use case you could use, even jewelry. It’s like, I don’t know the condition of the jewelry when I’m looking on a secondary marketplace of any sort. I have no idea if it’s real, or if it’s fake, or if it’s knocked off—whatever it may be. And so I think NFTs and Web3, what it does is it just digitally translates a lot of this stuff. And you can combine the two. I think that’s what a lot of people are trying to come up with solutions for, is this idea that you have this physical good, like a trading card that’s graded or authenticated, and then you also have a digital asset version of it so that you can easily buy, sell, and trade it without having to ship it to somebody or deal with the back and forth of all the different questions and things that could come around it.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 18:08
Absolutely. So for many of my listeners and viewers, I feel, especially in the jewelry industry, people are trying to still figure out: “What does this mean for us? We don’t really get it.” And I’m sure people who saw you speak at JCK, they got a little bit about a better understanding, but not everyone could be there. So can you please explain Web3 and NFT in the most simplest terms possible for the beginners out there?
Oliver Maroney 18:35
Totally! So I think the best explanation that I’ve been given, and the way that I term it, is [that] it’s a digital collectible. You know, a sports card or a piece of jewelry or whatever it may be—fine art—it is just a digital version of that. It is a collectible. Like I said, the benefit of the blockchain—I rarely use that term anymore just because it’s thrown around so vaguely all the time—but the idea behind it is that every transaction is tracked and you can see that. It’s all transparent. And so you always know the value of the product you have in NFTs and that is like the big benefit to what this has produced or what this has turned into. And I would say for the listeners out there who don’t know what NFTs are, the easiest way to explain it is just: it is a digital collectible. And that’s like the best way that I can describe it.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 19:38
Yes. Can you give some examples of what they look like? Like, what one would find if they were out looking for an NFT?
Oliver Maroney 19:42
Yes. Totally, totally! Yes, if you’re out looking for an NFT, there are many mainstream artists that are now doing NFTs of some sort. There are quite a few out there. Oh my gosh, I’m blanking on some of the names, but a lot of people buy it based on the art. So whatever the image you’re buying, the running joke is that you are buying a JPEG. That is like the big joke in NFT and Web3 land. And so if you can picture any generalized picture that you have—I’ve got this “Like Mike” poster in the background—that’s not an NFT, but that could be something you could potentially turn into one or you could purchase from somewhere. And so, there are those sorts of opportunities.
Oliver Maroney 20:39
As I mentioned earlier, I think there are a lot of companies out there that are starting to do this physical and digital transition very well. Adidas recently did a drop about six months ago-ish. And they did a tracksuit on a Bored Ape, and if you bought the NFT, then you also received the in real-life tracksuit. And so it was this combination of having a physical item with the digital item. And there are all sorts out there. A lot of them may look: not appealing to you. And that is totally fine.
Oliver Maroney 21:15
There are a lot of NFTs out there that are just created by random people. You could scour the internet for hours and hours and hours and days and days and days of NFTs. There are so many out there that it is hard to discern. I would say, if you’re looking into specific collections or specific artists, guys like Damien Hirst have [their] own collection, and he’s done physical and digital. And what’s brilliant about his is you can own the digital version, or you can turn in your digital version for a physical version. So that is one way people are utilizing NFTs—a guy like Damien Hirst. There are quite a few out there that are utilizing this technology and finding new ways to innovate around it. But NFTs can look all shapes and sizes. The art that you have in your background right now could easily be an NFT.
Oliver Maroney 22:12
There’s actually [what’s] called “Art Blocks.” It’s all generative art, is what they call it. So it’s like computer-generated art based around a line of code. And people are just absolutely—they go crazy over these Art Blocks pieces. And some of these are going for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the idea behind them is that they are, like I said, computer generated to an extent, but they’re all very unique to one another. And so you could own a piece of art like that. And there are digital frames out there where you can implement your NFTs.
Oliver Maroney 22:48
But the core of this, and the thing that I said at JCK too—I chatted with Mark Cuban like two years ago, and we were chatting about NFTs. And the big takeaway that I had was, anybody between the ages of around 20 to probably 35—they likely don’t own a home yet, the percentage is probably pretty small, they may or may not actually own their car—so the most valuable item they own is likely their phone. The thing that everybody uses 8/10/12/14 hours a day. And if you take that in a nutshell, and you think that that’s just going to continue, and you think that this idea of social media representing who you are, or what you do, has an impact, then NFTs are kind of centered around all that. The idea that your phone now has these digital assets that you can buy, sell, and trade and that it can also represent your personality.
Oliver Maroney 23:52
Why are Bored Apes the popular thing out there right now? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, they sold at the right time. A lot of people were really, really interested in what they came up with in their strategy and approach. But when you really think about it at the core, it’s like I have an image that also Eminem and Snoop Dogg, and all these other big celebrities out there—Jimmy Fallon, people that have as their profile picture—and now I am in a club with these people. And they have a Discord channel where all these celebrities are in there. Steph Curry—all sorts of different names from all landscapes. And all of them—if you chat with the original Bored Ape owners that still hold their apes today—they have all built businesses, brands, companies, [and] things around being a part of this community.
Oliver Maroney 24:48
And I liken it very similar to a country club or your high-end gym membership, or owning a Lamborghini, or things like that. I know the Lamborghini thing is a little overplayed, but the idea is that—you know, there is a Tesla Motor Club, right? And if I own a Tesla and the neighbor down the street owns a Tesla, there is a chance that we already have some common denominators here in our personalities that make a lot of sense. And so, if you kind of gravitate towards that, you understand that your phone is probably the most valuable asset that you own. If you’re in that 20 to 35 age bracket, you start to really quickly understand that there’s this massive potential for your personality on the internet, and what that looks like and what that could appear as. And that’s where I think the beauty in this has started to shine. And people are starting to notice that there is a massive industry out there for building a community around the images.
Oliver Maroney 25:46
It’s not necessarily the images you’re buying. Like, the Bored Ape is not worth $200,00. But being involved in their community absolutely could be. Right? You could build a business off of it. You could learn, network, [and] grow. You can attend an event with people that you would have never thought you would have attended an event with. There are many different benefits to owning any specific NFT that you potentially buy. And so that’s where I think the value truly is.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 26:12
Yes, that’s such a great point, that one sentence that you said: it’s not necessarily about just buying the image but buying into the whole community. And on the flip side, I think, and you can either affirm or deny this when a brand is approaching, “should we create NFTs?” How should we do it, thinking about the greater ripples of what that can mean in the community that you can build around that?
Oliver Maroney 26:37
Yes, that’s the most important part to a brand’s being successful in Web3 and NFTs is understanding how this all works and plays. There are brands out there that have launched NFT products. I won’t name names, but it’s just an image of their brand logo, and they stick it on a bunch of images for people to potentially buy. And they may sell out. They may make a significant portion of money. But the easy part, most of the time, in NFTs is actually selling out because people are buying into something that they don’t know what the possibilities are. But the hard part is actually keeping that community happy, over the long term, just like you would in a normal business. Investors will jump into almost any company at this point in this day and age that has any sort of potential or promise. But now, the real fun starts when you’ve gotten that investment money, and now what are you going to do with that long term? And so I think the same thing applies to NFTs in a way that you have to be very, very smart and have a plan of how you’re going to approach this.
Oliver Maroney 27:50
If I was a jeweler out there right now, and let’s just say I was a one-man-show entrepreneur—I had an Etsy shop with jewelry that I was selling, and I was doing okay for myself, but I wanted to kind of expand—NFTs could be a really intriguing way to do it. The big point would be, how do you scale digitally versus the physical items that you’re doing? How do you kind of connect the dots? There are many different ways that you can approach it. But first, you would start out strategizing a plan, just like you would normally doing a business. You’re not just going to launch a store and a product overnight; you’re going to come up with, “Okay, this is how I want it to launch.”
Oliver Maroney 28:46
Ultimately, it really comes down to your ability to understand this space. And so everybody who’s like, “Hey, I want to build a business around this, I want to do this, I want to do that,” my biggest suggestion is: spend two to three weeks diving in on OpenSea and on some of the marketplaces out there looking at some of the projects that have done well, looking at why they’ve done well. Going into Discord is a communication tool that everybody in NFT land uses. I don’t particularly like it. But everybody uses it. And you know, you can join a lot of communities through Discord and see the interactions and see what people are posting about. That gives you a really good sense of what you’re trying to build and what this could potentially look like for you.
Oliver Maroney 29:33
And from there, then you can strategize and say: “Okay, I’ve got this Etsy shop. I’m building these pieces of jewelry. I’d really like to add a digital piece to it and then send people the physical version with the digital piece.” And I think that’s the tie-in that a lot of brands are still missing, is [that] you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to be smart and strategic and understand what you’re doing and the long-term ramifications of what you’re doing. And as long as you’re caring, understanding—you want to make sure that it comes across [as] genuine. I know it sounds bad, but it really should be from the heart. It should be something that you truly believe in, otherwise you will get burned. I think there’s a huge risk and also a massive reward for NFTs.
Oliver Maroney 30:21
And I look at some famous people out there like Gary Vee, some people love him, some people hate him. Either way, you look though, he built an NFT project solely off of giving access to himself. And he’s done a really good job of giving that access to his NFT holders. The interesting part about it is the time, effort and energy that he’s spending on his NFT project. I would love to ask him this, but I bet you it’s 5x more than he had ever done previously. But I also believe it’s probably 10x more rewarding for him monetarily. And so there’s obviously, like I said, that scale that you have to weigh yourself and figure out what makes sense and what doesn’t. But there is a lot out there if you truly believe in what you’re doing and scaling it in the right way.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 31:12
Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Before I ask you my next question, there were a few terms you said—I’m worried some people might not know what you’re talking about. So give a one-sentence summary of what OpenSea is.
Oliver Maroney 31:24
Yes. Okay, so OpenSea is basically a marketplace where you can buy, sell, and trade NFTs. It’s the eBay of NFTs. I think that’s the easiest way I could showcase that for people. And so you can go there. They have statistics and rankings of all the NFT projects out there. You can look at any NFT that you possibly want—[it’s] all on OpenSea.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 31:46
So if someone wanted to go see what this was, that would be a great place to start and just look around.
Oliver Maroney 31:50
Great place! Just look around, just browse. You don’t need anything to start. It is as simple as going to the website and just checking it out. No, I’m not paid by OpenSea. No, I have no endorsement deal with them. It is just the place that a lot of people go when they’re first starting out. And yes, you can basically buy, sell, and trade any NFT out there via their platform. Yes.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 32:13
And then you also mentioned Discord, and you said it was like a communication tool. How is it different, though, from say, DMing on social media or a collaborative tool like Slack or something like that?
Oliver Maroney 32:26
So with NFTs, it’s kind of like you have to digitally verify that they own an NFT. A lot of communities like to verify that you own the NFT and you get access to specific channels. Think of Slack with the idea that you also need to verify that you own X NFT. I know it sounds crazy right now, but I look at it like, Okay, I got a membership to a really high-end, exclusive luxury gym somewhere. In order for me to go into the gym and actually speak to people, I have to have the membership, and I have to type in my phone number, I have to share—it’s the same thing just digitally in Discord. And so you can join their Discord. A lot of the time, you can actually join into their group.
Oliver Maroney 33:15
It’s structured similar to Slack, where you join in to a company profile or whatever it may be, and then inside of that, there are all these channels. And with Slack, you can also lock channels and things like that. And so you only have access to a specific number. And if you own a specific NFT, then you get access to specific channels inside of their Discord. And so what you end up seeing is the group chats that are developed around the owners of the NFT and then also the greater community.
Oliver Maroney 33:44
So some projects lock their entire Discord up. The only way you get access is by owning their NFT. Some open it up to the public on some scale. They have one channel open so everybody can see stuff, and then the rest of the channels are locked only for holders. And so that’s kind of how they’re structured. And as I said earlier, like the Bored Apes Discord, it is, I believe, open to the public to an extent. You can see one channel and then the rest of them hold their channels. It’s so funny; you see subcommunities built as well. If I have a cheeta ape, then I’m in the ‘Cheeta Ape’ group. And so you’ll see people create their own businesses that all own cheeta apes, and it’s part of the business. And so that’s the process behind Discord and what that actually is. It’s just another way of communicating. But it does a good job of integrating the NFT verification aspect of it. And that’s why I think a lot of people use it currently.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:49
That makes a lot of sense. So can you give some examples of product-based brands? You mentioned Adidas as one. Are there any others that you think are really doing a good job with this?
Oliver Maroney 35:01
Yes, there are a few out there. I mean, I think Budweiser has been pretty interesting. They have beer.eth—sorry, I’m going down a rabbit hole. A few people are like, “Oh my gosh, what is this?” There’s something called ENS; it’s Ethereum Name Service. Long story short, just think of grabbing a website—the name. You go to godaddy.com and you type in “Oliver’s shop” or whatever .com and you buy that name. The same thing applies to ENS. It’s essentially your name on the blockchain. Yes, that’s what it is.
Oliver Maroney 35:45
And Budweiser did a really cool activation with this idea of beer.eth. So they bought the name ‘beer.eth’ and they utilize it in a lot of their branding, marketing, and things like that. They have their own Discord channel. They give access to specific events that they do, access to celebrities, things of that nature. And so they’ve done a pretty good job of integrating their brand. And I thought what was cool was [that] when they initially dropped, they did the historic beer can—beer bottles of all the different kinds of looks over the years. And so when you went to buy their NFT, you got one of the couple hundred different types of Budweiser cans there possibly could be. So I thought that was cool.
Oliver Maroney 36:31
Nike has obviously been really, really instrumental in this space—not through their own company—more so through a company they acquired called RTFKT. RTFKT is like a game studio studio, and they acquired them about a year [or a] year and a half ago. And they have launched their own Avatar characters. They kind of look like Sims, in a sense. And so if you own one of them, you get access to Nike’s shoes for them. You can dress—there are all sorts of ways that you can integrate with their platform. They’ve done digital apartments for a Metaverse kind of situation, all sorts of crazy stuff. But I think Nike has been really, really innovative in their approach.
Oliver Maroney 37:19
And then I think outside of that, there are some mainstream brands that have yet to do much as their own NFT project. But I think there are some out there—I would say even celebrities to an extent—that are doing interesting concepts around access. I use Gary Vee all the time as an example just because I think his project—it’s very easy to see the direct correlation between what you’re buying and what you’re getting. And that, I think, is sometimes really hard for somebody to swallow; the understanding of buying an NFT and then seeing whatever value comes out of it. You have no real idea unless it’s laid out for you. And I think Gary Vee does a really good job of laying out, “Hey, this is what you get.”
Oliver Maroney 38:16
Just to give your listeners some examples, he has different tiers of NFTs. He’s got ones called “Gift Goats.” They’re all animals and characters around different things that you get. And so, Gift Goats, you get a gift every month airdropped to you. So he’ll have an artist do a piece of art and he’ll send it to you. Then if you own a FaceTime Frog, you get five FaceTimes a year, I think, with him, or something like that. And so that’s the benefit of owning the NFT.
Oliver Maroney 38:49
But it’s very clear, right? It’s like right in front and center. FaceTime Frog: I get five FaceTimes with them. And you can see how many have been redeemed courtesy of the blockchain—what people talk about all the time. So when they are redeemed, they show that on your NFT. They show that they’ve actually been redeemed. And so it’s really, really cool, Because maybe I’m somebody who wants one FaceTime with Gary Vee, just to say I had the experience and then I want to sell it because I don’t want to do the other four. Well, you can do that. Right? And everybody knows that you’ve used one of them, and you have four left. Whereas, if I was to go and sell a gift card with $25 on it, there’s nobody in the world that would believe me outside of the person that sees the back of the barcode and then could potentially steal it from you. So that’s the benefit, or the beauty of it.
Oliver Maroney 39:40
And like I said, I highly encourage anybody who doesn’t know anything about NFTs, Gary Vee’s product is called “VeeFriends.” You can see what he’s done. He created a conference around it. So once a year, there’s a big conference and he does talks for three days. And anyone who owns a VeeFriends gets access to it. And that’s kind of how he’s built up his brand and what he’s doing in this space.
Oliver Maroney 40:09
And there are a lot of companies out there that are trying to figure out what to do, how to do it, and I think it’s good. We don’t need a bunch of companies just jumping in and just throwing their name in the hat, just to do it. You really want to be, like I said, very strategic and smart about how you’re operating this.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 40:28
That makes so much sense. I think the thing I struggle with NFTs being a consumer of them and trying to understand them and see the value is, at least in this industry, in jewelry, looking at examples of brands that are trying to do it. Or even me going on OpenSea and searching “jewelry”—I’m just like, “Oh, great!” Like, what you said, I don’t really know what I’m getting out of this besides like a picture or something like that. And so I struggled to really justify buying it, because I don’t really understand the long term value of it. But the examples that you just described make so much more sense to me.
Oliver Maroney 41:06
Yes. And I think until a jeweler really steps in and puts a stamp on what this could potentially look like, that will still be unknown, right? And I think you can always do research, you can always browse OpenSea, things like that. You have no idea what you’re getting unless you really do your research and hone in on stuff and see the value. I think, yes, for jewelry it’s very difficult because there aren’t many examples out there currently, and I think it’s important. Someone will do it. I’d say the closest thing to it probably is—I think Prada is coming out with something soon. And there are a lot of luxury designer brands that are coming out and doing stuff.
Oliver Maroney 41:49
I think I just saw Meta, or Facebook, coming out with something where you’ll be able to buy Balenciaga and a few other brands, basically with a potential avatar. And so that’s potentially on the horizon. And there are a couple others out there. NBA Top Shot is created by a company called Dapper Labs, [which] operates a different blockchain completely separate from Ethereum. Sorry to throw even more lingo at your listeners. But the idea is that you could purchase it as simply as just buying it with a credit card. So remove NFTs, remove all of that—it’s just a digital collectible. You’re using a credit card, it’s in US dollars; there’s no extra friction. And their whole idea or product is that it’s still on the blockchain, it’s still transparent and visible. You wouldn’t be able to see a lot of those on OpenSea.
Oliver Maroney 42:51
Because it’s on a separate blockchain, these are a little bit more difficult to potentially look at. You log into an account like you normally would with an email. It shows your NFTs there. You can still display them, you can still use them however you want to, but Dapper created this sub product called Genies, or I think they invested in it. And Genies is very similar to a Sims. You have your own avatar. You can dress them up with your own, you know, wardrobe; things like that. And so I think, at some point in the future, you’re going to start to see digital but wearables become a thing. And that’s also where jewelry could potentially take shape by offering digital wearables. Even if it’s not like some high-profile, big, expensive NFT that, you know, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or a few thousand dollars. It could be something as simple as, “Hey, if I get a genie character, I can add my favorite jewelry from my favorite jeweler on there for 10 bucks,” 20 bucks, 100 bucks—whatever it may be. And then the concept behind that really is that you can trade those. You can buy them, you can sell them, you can trade them.
Oliver Maroney 44:05
I think what a lot of companies have missed out on, something that is so undersold, I think in the NFT space, is that you create more value for yourself if you do it right. And what I mean by that is, if I’m a jeweler, and we do these digital wearables, let’s just say for genies or whatever, people can buy them. And let’s say I buy it for $20, and there are only 100 of them, and so as time goes on, people see that I’m wearing it and the value starts to go up or whatever it may be. That person can then remove it from their character, sell it, and the company that created that jewelry can install a secondary percentage going back to them.
Oliver Maroney 44:55
And so what I mean by that is right now, Rolex, for example, sells their Rolex watch to one customer. One customer gives them the money that it costs for the Rolex, and then that’s it. Rolex doesn’t see another dime from that Rolex ever again, whereas with this model, they get it from Customer A, and then Customer A decides to sell it to Customer B. And now Rolex is getting a 5% secondary number off of that sale. And so, every transaction that happens, most of the time, most NFTs will have a secondary percentage that goes back to the collection itself. And so that’s not a current, usable strategy with this whole Genie idea yet, I’m just throwing that out there as an example. But the idea of NFTs that you can create long-term value, just off the same product being bought and sold, and creating demand off of that initial sale is the interesting part to me.
Oliver Maroney 46:00
I’ll use the example again: Gary Vee. He launched this NFT project, and he’s done more monetary value for himself and his project off of secondary sales than he did off [of] the initial primary sale. And it’s substantial money. Now, is he putting a lot of that back in? Of course, it’s just like any business. But the idea that he’s creating value, people see the value, and now there’s a premium on that product and he’s being rewarded for that premium—that just isn’t out there currently. There is no reward for creating a great product outside of customer retention. And this is a way to scale that opportunity.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 46:43
It makes so much sense. And now, especially in fashion and jewelry, the resale market for things like, you say, a Rolex. That’s such a huge, highly acceptable thing with consumers, and it’s just becoming more and more popular. So there is a big missed opportunity with that. You’re totally right.
Oliver Maroney 47:00
Yes, yes. I think that’s the takeaway for me is [that] if you have a sought-after product, if people love your product, you already have a community, whether you think so or not, you already have one. It’s just a matter of how you take it digitally and how you open that up to potentially more people. And it was funny at the JCK talk, there were a lot of people afterwards that were asking questions about how they could install their own, you know, NFT project around their jewelry business or what they’re doing.
Oliver Maroney 47:32
The thing I always say is, “Try it with one product. Do a very small scale solution.” And if it works, it’s a great spot to be in because you can always do more. You can never scale back, though. This is the thing I see a lot of brands do lately, it’s like they come out with a collection of 10,000 NFTs. They can’t even support 10,000 people. So, that’s the big key here. I think if you’re a jeweler, release a limited edition; 10 or 20 or 100 and see what happens. See if the market takes in what you’re selling. And I think as long as you integrate your initial community into what you’re doing digitally, it will work out to your favor.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 48:19
Yes, that’s just sound marketing advice in general. Testing your market first, finding a product-market fit; it all applies. We’re using all these words that people are probably like, “What?” But the theories behind them are age-old.
Oliver Maroney 48:34
Laryssa Wirstiuk 48:36
So, for people listening to and watching this podcast, their interest is piqued. They’re curious about it. What are some good resources for them to maybe get started and begin dipping their toe into this water?
Oliver Maroney 48:49
Yes, yes. I would say there are two main forms of connection that people use for NFTs. One is Twitter. Just search [for] “NFT”. Just follow the biggest collections out there. Follow some of the big names. I’ve given you a few as we’ve talked about it like Gary Vee. Kevin Rose is another one. He’s a very, very reputable founder. He’s created his own project; actually a few projects now. Alexis Ohanian is another great one. He has a Web3 NFT fund that he’s funding some really cool stuff with. So I’d suggest following those sorts of influencers and names.
Oliver Maroney 49:35
And then, secondarily, to that OpenSea I referenced earlier. There are a few others that are pretty good. “Nft now” is a website for news and information. I would highly recommend that. There are a few others. I think it’s like—I can’t remember the name of it. I think it’s Daily Trader or something like that. There’s one that follows the statistics a little bit more closely, which is really interesting. And then, last but not least, anybody who’s interested in NFTs: look at the top five or ten on OpenSea over the past year. Go to their collections, follow them on Twitter, join their Discords, and then just watch. Just take in what is being done.
Oliver Maroney 50:18
You don’t have to fully understand all of this to get what is going on. They could be talking in lingo like I’m talking about, but as you mentioned, when you really dwindle it down, it’s pretty similar to just business in general. There’s a couple additional things that I think—like I said, it’s like this combo of a country club slash, I don’t know, clique, whatever you want to call it. And people like to be a part of that stuff. They just do. And it’s like, I’ve talked to all these Bored Apes all the time, and then they’re like: “Yes, I’ve been in it forever. I love being in it.” And, I couldn’t tell you that I’m not jealous of that situation. I absolutely am. You know, it’s like, I would love to be a part of that. Who wouldn’t want to be?—I think—just to get the experience, nonetheless. But that would be my recommendation.
Oliver Maroney 51:13
I’d say outside of your NBCs that report very, very big NFT crypto news, things like that, there are not too many current news outlets to go to to follow all this closely. And there’s so much going on that it’s really hard to keep up. So I would highly suggest, like I said: top five to 10 projects out there over the past year.
Oliver Maroney 51:41
Actually, I’ll specifically walk you through it. You go to opensea.io. There’s a second tab in it that says “Stats”. There’s “Rankings”. You click on “Rankings”, and it says “Top NFTs”. And there’s like little filters and it says “Last 24 Hours”. And all I would do is go down to the very bottom, under “Last 24 Hours”, it says “All Time”. And I’ll just list off for you: “CryptoPunks”; “Bored Ape Yacht Club”; “APR Club”; “Mutant Ape Yacht Club”; “Art Blocks Curated”; “Azuki”; “Clone X”; “Sandbox”; “Moonbirds”; “Doodles”. Those are like the top eight to ten currently. And I would just click on each of those projects, look at the art that’s being created around them, join their Discords, follow them on Twitter.
Oliver Maroney 52:31
And then from there, Twitter is great at the algorithm and letting you know what you want to look at. And so, once you follow those, you will start to see a lot of trending topics around them. You can kind of follow around those. But I would say if you’re really interested in doing this, or looking into it, or just want to do some research and have some fun. That would be my suggestion. Go to those top projects. Follow guys like Kevin Rose, Alexis—people like that. And yes, I mean, I have my own Twitter, and we have our own project, so we’re always eyes and ears and whatever. Any questions anyone has [I’m] happy to answer them. But yes, that would be my suggestion.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 53:18
Well, thank you, Oliver, this has been so informative! I learned a lot. I feel like your approach to talking about this is really straightforward and down to earth and I’m not seeing a lot of that out in the world. So I hope that my listeners and viewers learned a lot too. I really appreciate your time today.
Oliver Maroney 53:34
Yes, thanks a lot for having me. I appreciate it!
Laryssa Wirstiuk 53:36
Is there anything else you want to share about where people can find you? Anything exciting going on in your work?
Oliver Maroney 53:41
Yes, at @olivermaroney. So that’s my @ on Twitter. You can follow me there. I’m pretty active on Twitter. Other than that, really at Cameo Pass, everything that we do Cameo Pass related is kind of under myself and a few other co-founders’ wings. And yes, that’s pretty much it. We’re doing a lot of different things with our project. And yes, I’m looking forward to what’s to come in this space. And hopefully, there’s a jeweler out there that’s listening and is like, “Hey, I’m going to do this!” And if you’re that person out there, I’m happy to answer your questions.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 54:16
Amazing! Thanks, Oliver!
Laryssa Wirstiuk 54:20
What did you think? If you’d like to connect with Oliver, ask him questions, or learn more from him, the best place to visit him is on his LinkedIn profile. So if you search “Oliver Maroney”, you’ll find him there.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 54:33
You can always email me, Laryssa, that’s email@example.com. If you loved this podcast, please share it with a friend who’d appreciate it. And don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a review on iTunes. To purchase a signed copy of my book, Jewelry Marketing Joy, visit joyjoya.com/book for all the information. Thanks for listening. Remember to subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more information about working with Joy Joya, visit joyjoya.com where you can sign up to download our free eBooks about various topics in jewelry marketing.