Meet the mothers entering the market

In October, Sarah Monson learned that Facebook changed its name to Meta and shifted its focus to something called the meta-verse, an immersive virtual world that did not yet exist, but the company said it would one day take over the Internet. Monson, a 44-year-old commercial writer and mother who recently moved to Hawaii, found the news disturbing.

“I thought, oh my God, we’ll all be drawn into this creepy metavers by Mark Zuckerberg, whether we like it or not, and have no influence on it,” she said during an interview last week on NFT LA . a cryptocurrency conference in downtown Los Angeles.

Monson thought her 6-year-old daughter would encounter some version of the meta-verse in the future, and she would be prepared. She decided that the best thing to do was to learn about the technologies that many proponents of metaverse said would support it, including cryptocurrencies and NFTs or non-fungible tokens.

“My whole point was that I want to educate myself,” Monson said. She also did not want to miss what seemed to her like another big technology boom. “I lived in Seattle during the dot com bubble and I had no voice or power to do anything,” she said.

Sarah Monson is now getting ready to launch her first NFT art collection, which she dubbed The Latchkey Kids, a reference to members of her generation born in the 1970s and 80s.Jon Premosch for NBC News
A face mask from Sarah Monson's first NFT art collection, which she christened The Latchkey Kids.
A face mask from Sarah Monson’s first NFT art collection, which she christened The Latchkey Kids.Jon Premosch for NBC News

Monson first started investing in crypto several years ago. But she spent the last five months diving into the market with her head first, listening to NFT podcasts, joining Discord servers and connecting with other moms on Twitter. She is now getting ready to launch her first NFT art collection, which she christened The Latchkey Kids, a reference to members of her generation born in the 1970s and 80s. On the second day of NFT LA, she wore a face mask and a T-shirt printed with the colorful cartoon goats she helped design for the project.

While younger, male Americans are more likely to say they have heard a lot about cryptocurrencies, a small but growing number of mothers, like Monson, are entering the industry. For them, the effort of investing in crypto can be higher. Most of the six mothers interviewed for this article said they hoped crypto and NFTs would meaningfully change their family’s financial security for generations to come. They said they felt their perspective was different from the “crypto bros” often associated with the market.

“With more and more parents entering this space, we have a different mindset,” said Olayinka Odeniran, founder of the Black Women Blockchain Council, an organization that supports black women pursuing careers in blockchain and fintech. industry, which has a 12-year-old daughter. “Our approach is different from the single guys or girls who are here solely to invest. We are really here because we want to leave something for our family and we want them to be able to participate in our space.”

Odeniran and other mothers like her represent a minority of the crypto industry. Only 13 percent of U.S. women in their 30s and 40s say they have invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrencies, compared with 43 percent of men in their late teens and 20s, according to a study by Pew Research Center announced in November. Overall, twice as many men invest in crypto as women, a CNBC study showed.

On the second day of NFT LA, Sarah Monson wore a face mask and a t-shirt printed with the colorful cartoon goats she helped design for the project.
On the second day of NFT LA, Sarah Monson wore a face mask and a t-shirt printed with the colorful cartoon goats she helped design for the project.Jon Premosch for NBC News

The lack of women is so pronounced that it is often the subject of jokes. During the conference, which Monson attended, comedian Kristin Key pondered on stage that the NFT might have stood for “no women today.” (The audience did not laugh.)

But now, in the midst of another bull market, a new wave of women-themed organizations has emerged that say they want to encourage more women to participate in crypto.

Deana Burke, mother of two children under the age of 5 and co-founder of Boys Club, a cryptocurrency designed for women and non-binary people, said there is more enthusiasm for entering the industry among women than when she joined a couple of years ago. .

“I could not make anyone worry,” Burke said. “But there is now this surrounding curiosity.”

Mother’s branding

One of the most well-known “Crypto Moms” is Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Pierce. She was nicknamed by members of the crypto community who often see her as an ally of their industry. Pierce said she mostly does not mind being called a mother, even though she actually has no biological children. But she also believes that her role should not be perceived as a parenting role.

“I think it’s a bad thing for an official to be considered in parental terms because my philosophy of regulation is, look, this country is built on freedom and people making their own decisions,” she said. “I’m definitely old enough to be the mother of many of these cryptocurrencies, so from that perspective, it’s not too crazy either.”

Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Hester M. Peirce.
Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Hester M. Peirce.US Securities and Exchange Commission

Pierce is not the only person being referred to as a cryptomor. Brenda Gentry, a San Antonio-based crypto-trader, has branded herself online as “MsCryptoMom.” Her slogan: “Mom knows best.”

Gentry, 46, grew up in Kenya and has previously worked as a mortgage lender for the USAA, a financial firm for members and veterans of the U.S. military. She resigned in October after she and her husband calculated that their retirement accounts would be worth about $ 400,000 or $ 500,000 if they continued to work for the next 20 years, about the same amount that Gentry said she already had. had earned through crypto trading. Gentry said she is excited about the financial opportunities that crypto provides, but also aware of the risks involved.

“Sometimes I see these young kids on Twitter say, ‘I earned so much on this NFT, and I’m leaving my job,’ and I think, what?” said Gentry. “They forget we have bad markets. You know you have to think about that too.”

Gentry said she protects herself by only investing in crypto projects that reveal the real names of the people behind them. She believes that investment opportunities in space are more likely to be scams if run by anonymous founders.

“I would not invest money if I do not know who the team is. If I do not know if they are anonymous, I will go away. The only one who is anonymous is Satoshi,” Gentry said, referring to the creator of bitcoin, whose true identity remains unknown.

Looking for opportunities

Brenda Cataldo, a real estate agent and mother of five who lives in Palm Bay, Florida, said she sees crypto as a rare opportunity to build wealth for her family and a larger community.

“If I’m able to make money, I’m able to help everyone else around me. I do not think that’s a bad thing,” she said. “If you do not take care of yourself, how can you take care of someone else? “

Cataldo has been investing in cryptocurrencies for a few years. But she started learning about NFTs at TikTok last fall. She is now getting ready to launch her own NFT collection called Luxe Ladies, which was modeled after her mother, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. She said 20 percent of the profits will go to support foster children.

“I just think about how lucky and blessed I was to have a mother who was such an advocate for me,” she said. “I want to give a little back to kids who don’t have it.”

Other interviewed mothers also said they view crypto as a way to raise money for charity. Gentry said she and her husband have run a nonprofit organization that supports poor families in her home country of Kenya for years, but the extra money from trading cryptocurrencies has made a big difference.

“When my parents went back to Kenya in January, instead of helping the 20 or 30 people we usually care for, they could help 200 people,” she said. “So it’s not only generational wealth for my grandchildren, my children’s children, that they have not even received yet, but it is also for other other families.”

But Shailee Adinolfi, a mother and director of strategic sales and accounts at blockchain software firm Consensys, warned that at the moment, it is not necessarily easy for people to transfer the money they earn from cryptocurrencies to their families or other organizations.

“What if you want to pass crypto to your kids? There are no shared accounts,” she said. “We need to think about all kinds of people and how they interact with systems and not just develop them into the same group of people who usually code . “

Monson said she wants to convince more mothers like her to get involved in NFT art collections. But she said many of them are concerned about the environmental impact of bitcoin and how much electricity it uses.

Burke noted that there are already a number of newer blockchain technologies in use that are designed to consume fewer resources. She said there are lots of people in crypto who want to address the damage that is being done to the environment, instead of contributing to it.

Sarah Monson attends NFT LA, a cryptocurrency conference in downtown Los Angeles.
Sarah Monson attends NFT LA, a cryptocurrency conference in downtown Los Angeles.Jon Premosch for NBC News

“The world that I’m part of in web3 and crypto is very, very, very climate conscious and is actively working to improve the situation,” she said.

Monson said she hopes the industry will continue to evolve. So far, she plans to keep exploring what the crypto world can mean for her and her family’s future.

“I love my job and I love what I do, but I’m more than just a mom and I feel like so many other moms we need more,” she said. “This is an exciting new life change.”

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