a smol story
We had a long road before ever getting smol farm, let alone releasing Dastardly Ducks. Wasn't always easy, but we're grateful to be here.
In 2015, we met. At the time, I was just getting my career as a software engineer off the ground while Mandy pursued an education in digital media. Our talents complemented each other, but we largely worked apart — even if in the same room together — each pursuing separate careers.
For the first several years we lived together, we rented half of a cramped duplex near Midtown in Atlanta. We made the best of it, but neither of us liked living there. The rent kept going up, to the point it was well over twice the initial price by the time we moved out. Each time, it made sense for us to hold out longer while trying to be able to buy the perfect place.
In 2019, that opportunity finally came. We found a house that we truly loved with several acres of land and a barn — the perfect hobby farm or homestead. We were able to get it for about $300k, which was the upper end of the financial burden we were hoping to take with the house. Making this move wiped out our savings — something we figured, while risky, was worth it for the perfect home and to get out from under the rising rental costs.
We named the property “smol farm.” Growing up, I had often visited my grandfather’s farm. I bolstered this love more with games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley. Mandy and I watched YouTube a lot together, and one of our, at the time, more recent favorites was Gold Shaw Farm, a duck and goose farmer — who we continue to watch. Recently, we even had the pleasure of being interviewed by him.
We thus chose ducks as our initial agricultural foray. Duck eggs are similar to chicken eggs in most regards, though many, like myself, find them even better due to their slightly higher proportion of fat. Duck poop also is an extremely good fertilizer that we knew would make it so we could easily get the soil quality high here — and keep it high.
Mere months later, the pandemic struck. On top of that, the startup where I was working remotely laid everyone off in February 2019. I managed to get a big corporate job a couple of months after, though the sudden shock already weakened our fragile finances. Though all of this, I was trying to arrange to get surgery I needed as a trans woman, though the pandemic caused a cascading series of delays to scheduling, causing me to lose my corporate job 10 months after getting it.
Everything felt like it was falling apart all through 2021, though Mandy developed an interest in the NFT space — and reluctantly got me to look into it more myself. Given the bulk of her income came from doing digital art commissions, the idea of being able to sell her work directly to her audience appealed immensely to her.
After a string of disappointments in pursuing new jobs, I finally got a worthwhile one in late 2021 — that would not start until January. At this point, our finances were absolutely devastated. We were many months behind on our housing payments. Everything felt futile.
So we took the opportunity we knew had a decent chance of succeeding: we released an NFT collection, Dastardly Ducks. 10,000 cartoon ducks selling at about $15 — less if you bought them in bulk. There were numerous delays on launch day. Though we initially intended on getting it out on the evening of the 18th, it was not until the early morning of the 19th that sales finally went live.
Every single duck was sold out in less than six hours. We paid our back bills and had a significant amount left over. Suddenly, tons of opportunities were available to us, such as our upcoming project with Iron Chef Cat Cora. We went from the depths of despair to thriving literally overnight more than we ever had before — together as a couple.
Mandy and I have not always had a fairy tale romance story. Much of our relationship’s history is defined by setback after setback, failure after failure. But the reason we kept picking ourselves back up and trying again — the reason we have the success that we do now — is we have each other. That is the power of love — and what I’m thinking about most this Valentine’s Day.
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