Deadfellaz co-founder Betty first heard about NFTs in January 2021, when her husband, who goes by the name “Psych”, introduced her to the space. As an artist, Psych, in turn, learnt about NFTs through his artist collective, Depthcore. For Betty, who is the co-director of a creative production agency, it didn’t take much to be drawn to NFTs.
“It was immediately something that we both wanted to explore and we did,” Betty told NFTevening in an exclusive interview. *
Like many founders in the NFT space “Betty” and “Psych” are monikers the couple chose to remain anonymous. For Betty, especially, the decision to be anonymous came from a wish to “work without the male gaze and everything that comes with it.”
Besides, she wanted to be “received for [her] work first” and set a “flagship example of how to use a PFP to create a personal brand”. More importantly, she wanted to “maintain a certain amount of privacy and security” for her kids.
Deadfellaz Co-founder Betty on Why She Decided to Dox Herself
“I decided to dox myself now because I value in-person connection,” Betty said. “I enjoy meeting people and wanted to connect with my community on a new level. While I don’t think it’s necessary, it’s something I want. I’m looking forward to meeting people I work alongside, my peers, and the community.”
That said, Betty admitted that staying anonymous was never meant to be a “permanent” decision. Her intention, she added, was always to attend events in real life.
“But, I wanted to set an example for personal branding without needing to lead with what I look like,” she said. It’s safe to say that Deadfellaz co-founder Betty has succeeded in this endeavour. Already, she boasts over 75,000 followers on Twitter. Moreover, she has a marked presence in the NFT Twitter community.
“While I enjoy connecting and community building I also value my privacy and the privacy and safety of my children,” Betty further said. “Which is why I will maintain a certain level of detachment from my personal life and my work.”
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Deadfellaz: A Project Born Out of the Love for NFTs
Deadfellaz was born out of Betty and Psych’s passion for NFTs and the desire to be a part of this burgeoning space. At the time, while there were several other NFT projects in the market, for Betty, “nothing stood out”. In short, there wasn’t anything she “wanted to represent” herself with.
“I didn’t feel like I saw myself in anything that was available,” she recalled. “And I’m a strong believer in identifying gaps or things that you wish existed and then set out to bring those things to reality. Because I think that if you’re feeling that then other people must be feeling that too.”
Around the same time, Psych was doing art for different DAOs and events. He had also started receiving opportunities to do art for other collections.
“And it just struck me—launching and running an NFT project was really in our wheelhouse,” Betty added. “Both of us have those skills when we work together. And so it just made complete sense to me to do it.”
This realisation came at a crucial point in both their lives—they were striving to “get out of the rat race of corporate work”. Also, amid the pandemic, the couple was left doing “uninspiring” work—something that did not satiate their creative minds.
“As creative people, the NFT space just provided us really an opportunity to spread our wings a bit more and just really explore that creativity within us without really any boundaries,” Betty added.
Eventually, Betty and Psych launched the Deadfellaz NFT collection in August 2021.
Deadfellaz is a blend of zombies, 90s animation, and streetwear
Betty’s Deadfellaz is an “undead” NFT collection featuring 10,000 zombie-themed NFTs living on the Ethereum blockchain. Interestingly, the collectors call themselves “the horde”. It even includes some top celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Steve Aoki, Lil Baby, and Pussy Riot—to name a few.
As fans of zombie and horror movies, going for a zombie theme for Deadfellaz was an almost obvious choice for Betty and Psych. “That fascination with the slightly spooky and things that are a little bit macabre has been a societal thing since forever,” Betty said. “I grew up reading Goosebumps, the scary children’s books by RL Stine…I think it’s just a theme that will never go away.”
“We used that as a bit of a vehicle to bring a few of our other interests and inspirations as well,” she added. “So we’ve got the 90s animation; streetwear, music, and gaming culture; and queer culture—just all of these different aspects of ourselves and injected that into the one collection.”
Bringing Diversity to the NFT Space
Apart from the Zombie theme, there’s another factor that stands out in Deadfellaz—the Zombies are genderless. In a market dominated by male avatars, genderless avatars are a welcome change. And this was no accident.
“This was also a really important decision for us—it was very intentional,” Betty said. While the team designed each trait, they ensured to not gender anything.
“Because prior to our launch, I just didn’t see anything that represented that spectrum of gender at all,” she added. “It was either mostly male traits or one or two female traits. But then they would be really leaning into the stereotypes and sometimes, almost borderline offensive. So I felt like something needed to change, and I wanted to bring that to the space.”
That said, as a female founder in the NFT space, Betty is no alien to the challenges that come with it. For one, she is often compared to her male counterparts. This, she added, sometimes becomes “a little bit disheartening.”
“Sometimes, my decisions are second-guessed a lot more, I’m critiqued a lot harder, I am held to a different standard,” she said. “But in that same way, I feel like I have this incredible opportunity of power, where I have the ability to open doors that might not have been opened before for people….to really open the space up and show people what can be done.”
“I champion that for not only women but queer people and mothers and all these different facets of my own identity,” Betty added. “I’m quite vocal about all of those things. And I hope that that encourages other people to try and do the same.”
Betty on what the industry can do
Betty believes that people need to first work towards undoing all their internal “biases” in the real world. After all, what happens in the NFT space (or virtual space) is a reflection of the real world.
“We can look within ourselves and ask—How are we being implicit to this? What can we change in our behaviour? What can I personally do and then focus on that…Everyone needs to do that. And because this space is male-dominated, we need men to be doing that…It’s a responsibility that lies with everyone.”
Deadfellaz signs with UTA
Since its launch, Deadfellaz has built several partnerships to bring added utility to its community. In April, the NFT project signed with the global talent, entertainment and sports company, UTA. With this deal, Deadfellaz will expand into brand partnerships, merchandising, and gaming, among others.
“Our goal with Deadfellaz is to build a pop-culture brand in the real world and a crypto native brand in the metaverse. We want to build both of those worlds in parallel,” Betty said. “The partnership with UTA allows us to do that in a way that is efficient and in line with our goals. UTA, for us, is a stepping stone to the next level and really allows us to achieve our goals.”
Soon after, the project teamed up with Gilson, an American snowboard and ski manufacturer, to release 1-of-1 snowboards and skis featuring Dedfellaz avatars. This is how it worked—for three days in April, Deadfellaz, Deadfrenz, Halloween S1, and Betty Pop Horror collection holders could mint either a snowboard or ski for 0.32 ETH.
“Combining snow sports with NFTs and the community that we have fostered is a really special thing for us,” Betty noted. “Psych and I have done snow seasons, we’ve worked in ski resorts…so just being able to combine those worlds is really fantastic.”
The future of the Deadfellaz NFT project
In the months since its launch, Deadfellaz has released several secondary collections. This includes the companion project—Deadfrenz—featuring 13,000 NFTs from 13 species. Deadfellaz Infected S1, a limited edition series of Deadfellaz created by top NFT artists to celebrate Halloween 2021, is another collection on the list. Finally, Betty Pop Horror features 225 NFTs of Betty reimagined as classic pop horror icons.
“We really want to cement ourselves as a pillar of pop culture in the real world that is used as a vehicle for social change,” Betty said. “We all speak about Web3. But I don’t think we’re actually there. I think we’re building Web3 and Web2 right now. I want Deadfellaz to be a part of that. Everything that we’re doing is with that in mind and the progression of the space.”
Betty’s Advice for NFT Creators
Betty’s most important piece of advice for creators aspiring to enter the NFT space is to have a healthy sleep schedule. Secondly, don’t be discouraged if and when a project fails.
“Avoid comparison as much as possible and just continue on your own personal mission and remain authentic to that,” she added. “Try not to mirror what other people are doing because that’s what it looks like to be successful. Follow your own path, because we have this amazing opportunity where this space is full of completely unexplored land. A lot of the things that happen here are done for the first time ever. You could be that person. So, let your imagination run wild and really go for it.”
*The quotes are condensed and edited for clarity