What Working With Cat Cora Means to Me
Our Yo Kitties NFT collab with Iron Chef Cat Cora means a lot more to me than mere cartoon kitties.
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, one topic constantly on my mind lately is how tech — and especially crypto — is a male-dominated industry. By being an openly queer woman in it, I strive to do what I can to change that. Though many see cooking as a woman’s domain, professional chefs are overwhelmingly men. A long-time fan of Iron Chef, I would be excited if any of its culinary geniuses wanted to work with me, but it was especially meaningful that it was Cat Cora — a trailblazer for women and LGBTQ+ people — who reached out.
Cat Cora is the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame, as well as the first woman granted the title of Iron Chef. Furthermore, much like both of us here at smol farm, she is an open lesbian and thus the first lesbian in both of those categories as well. While watching lots of Food Network in the late 00s and early 10s, terrified of facing my transition — which I did in 2012 — I dreamed of being as much of a badass as Cat Cora in my own way.
If you had told that scared, closeted trans girl who would then drop out from how overwhelming it felt she would one day be cooking up cartoon kitties with Cat, she would not have believed you. Heck, the me of a few months ago would not have either. And it wasn’t something we had to pitch — she excitedly came to us, which remains one of the most magical moments of my life, up there with the Dastardly Ducks minting out so quick just days before.
So far, Yo Kitties has not had that kind of immediate minting success, thanks to the bearish market conditions and story that stirs people less immediately to act. We saved smol farm with just a couple of days to spare with Dastardly Ducks. Yo Kitties is donating money to good causes and building out a share, cute world we are building with lots of cartoon critters, but we are just one of many NFT projects donating to Ukraine — and it is a miracle the NFT community has shown the war-torn country so much support.
The NFT space is also awash with celebrity projects — most of which flop a lot harder than people not following them would expect. Buyers in this space want good art, a good investment, or both. Many of the celebrity projects offer neither. Because we are a small, indie team recovering from financial hardship, we were reluctant to offer an ambitious roadmap, but we are determined to expand this beyond mere cute collectibles into interactive content and merch.
However, that cash flow, while a vital way to fund our projects and the good causes we support, what excites me most as a writer is to tell stories — both in our world and in the infinity of the virtual ones we will explore together. Both can co-exist in one project. We plan on using Yo Kitties to tell stories through media like webcomics, but the project will always exist as the story of how a pioneer in one male-dominated field, cooking, saw an inspiring story of women in another — the story of how we were able to make donations to UkraineDAO and some struggling homesteaders.
Slower mints also may, in many cases, build stronger communities and value. Though the Dastardly Ducks minted out quickly, almost immediately afterward, you could get them for less than the minting cost on secondary sales sites like OpenSea. Meanwhile, people selling Yo Kitties on those sites are selling them for above minting price, with steady movement on the secondary side too as people search for their perfect kitty. We are also using this time to make honorary 1/1 kitties for figures in the NFT space we love like SHL0MS and Foodmasku.
Though, at the time of publication, over 4,000 more Yo Kitties can be minted, I am confident that, in time, they will. The dynamics of the bull market that spawned the Dastardly Ducks do not currently apply, and what is important is thinking long-term and continuing to build, which we are. The project is, by many metrics, already a success, having raised tens of thousands of dollars worth of ETH. But hitting an NFT mint limit has turned from a sprint into a marathon for all but the most hyped projects — at least for now.
And I’m still jogging down that path, inspired to be working with someone whose presence in another field helped pave the way for LGBTQ+ women, even if the fight for equality is, in many ways, just beginning.
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