Iris Nevins, 29, is the founder of NFT studio Umba Daima, which promotes artists and educates people about Web3. She has also launched a number of sub-brands including Black NFT Art, which was the first, followed by the NFT Roundtable podcast and virtual exhibit The Unseen Gallery.
Nevins has been a longtime art collector but in early 2021 decided to dedicate her career to supporting artists. She had planned to create an online store for artists to sell their work along with her co-founder but when she learned about NFTs (nonfungible tokens) in 2020, she decided the technology would be more beneficial to artists.
“We thought that we could do more, have bigger impact and generate more revenue for the artists, for ourselves, [with NFTs] than trying to sell prints and paintings online,” Nevins told CNBC Make It.
Nevins’ NFT studio Umba Daima manages and consults with artists, earning a percentage of their sales, and helps build online communities for marketplaces, according to CNBC Make It. Nevins explained why she launched the sub-brand, Black NFT Art.
“We noticed that the artists that were having a lot of success had these really strong communities around them that were promoting or reposting on social media or participating in their drops,” Nevins said. “The studio launched Black NFT Art in an attempt to create that kind of experience for Black artists.”
According to CNBC Make It, Umba Daima made $140,000 in revenue from all of its brands in 2021. To achieve this, Nevins had to quit her day job and focus on her NFT studio full-time. The 29-year-old hasn’t paid herself yet and most of her team members are volunteers.
Nevins, who has been a passionate advocate for equity and social justice, believes that blockchain technology is a tool that will help close the wealth gap. According to a report, the richest 10% of the global population controls 76% of its wealth, while the bottom 50% own just 2%.
That type of inequality is why Nevins thinks that crypto, blockchain and NFT use are so important. “It’s a technology that allows us to create a whole new economic system in which the power can be rebalanced,” she said.
Starting an NFT platform was not easy for Nevins. When she started, she realized there was a lack of diversity in the industry and for her, that was an opportunity to build a more equitable space for creators of color.
“There weren’t many Black artists, or if they were there, they were really hard to find,” she said. “You didn’t see Black artists generating much sales.”