Women in the Metaverse: Anna Fomenko of Fancy Bears Metaverse

Amid the many NFT projects that have become part of a now-meteoric trend, one that’s currently on the rise is Fancy Bears Metaverse — a project and DAO that’s made artists, top athletes, celebrities and even Nobel prize winners a part of its expanding community. Currently, the estimated value of the assets within the Fancy Bears DAO exceeds $700k USD.

As part of our ongoing series, we recently sat down with Anna Fomenko, Polish-based Project Manager of Fancy Bears Metaverse, to discuss parts of the project’s roadmap, current successes, crowdfunding efforts and plans to create a full-chain model for modifying the appearance of NFTs. We also cover why Anna hopes to be a trailblazer for other women who are entering the Web3 space.

How did things kick off?

Anna mentions how she had a bit of an “old-fashioned, Belle Epoque” approach to education while growing up — learning piano, French, history and art — the last being her favourite subject. About a year ago, she learned about NFTs and her curiosity was piqued. “I knew they were like art, but digital art,” she says.

She says she entered the Web3 space about six months ago, when she officially joined the Fancy Bears project with Fanadise. She was particularly happy that they gave her the opportunity to start working with them because “in Poland, it was a new area — and few companies are trying to jump into the space there.” She kicked off her efforts by managing the project’s Twitter pages, before moving into her current role as Project Manager. “It’s been a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world.”

Anna notes how quickly she’s been able to jump into the Web3 space and ramp up her knowledge about NFTs, highlighting how much she’s adapted to the space in such a short matter of time. “I didn’t have a huge background, but as a lover of art, I loved that NFTs were pieces of art and wanted to get involved.”

About Fancy Bears Metaverse

Anna explains that: “First and foremost, Fancy Bears Metaverse is a community of amazing people from all across the world.” Fancy Bears’ main utilities include organising in-person parties for holders (some of which include prominent celebrities), as well as providing exclusive merchandise and airdrops of the community’s token, $HONEY. NFT holders and brands are also eligible to receive a series of exclusive deals for partnering with the community (past partners include Samsung and L’Oreal).

Legendary American boxer Floyd Mayweather, an NFT holder who has become quite active in the Web3 space, has recently become an honorary member of the Fancy Bears community. Anna elaborates on how even though Fancy Bears “is a Polish project, we wanted to focus on not just Poland, but the entire world.” 

Photo by © A.RICARDO – Shutterstock.com

After starting off with Polish influencers in their roster, they decided to branch out globally. To have a big star as part of the community “seemed like a great idea and Floyd seemed like a great candidate to develop a partnership with” — given that they knew he had a global presence and wide outreach. Mayweather recently donated 20 signed pairs of gloves to the DAO, which were then given to corresponding Fancy Bears holders.

Building the “NFT 2.0”

Now, the Fancy Bears DAO’s main focus is on building and offering Trait Swap — a desktop application that can be accessed when users connect to the interface using their crypto wallets. From here, users can select which Fancy Bear NFT they’d like to make changes to — such as giving their character a new head accessory or fur colour.

How will this work? As every trait (both in Fancy Bears’ original collection and in newer traits) will be an ERC1155 token, every trait swap will mean that each token is being staked in the contract (so long as the trait remains in use). For this reason, the DAO has created a separate trait staking contract. 

“Just like how characters change their wardrobe in the Sims,” Anna describes, “you can try out all of the traits [and figure out] which one will look best on your bear.”

As not all NFT holders were entirely happy about how their bears looked, they’ve started voicing a desire to see something new take place within the project. With Trait Swap, holders are able to make changes to their bears and attach different traits and accessories. In light of this, the DAO is working to apply the same technology to other popular NFT projects — such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Doodles and Cool Cats.

They’re also looking to create partnerships with additional companies, who are also helping them to further develop more NFT traits — even exploring the option for users to carry utilities from other projects. In Anna’s vision, “you can bring every utility [to the project] that you want — whether it’s a ticket to a party or traits from another project.” 

New traits can be purchased with the project’s $HONEY token. Recently, the community offered holders an exclusive airdrop of the token, enabling them to purchase new traits and gain limited access to Trait Swap. From there, users could see the changes made to their NFTs reflected on OpenSea.

“Honestly, people have just gone crazy,” Anna says, “as we not only have our original collection, but also these additional traits.” She touches on some of the unique changes that holders can select from, including the much-loved squid head. “I can see that people really like it.”

Anna also highlights the efforts being made to differentiate Fancy Bears from other projects, commenting on how she enjoys the ability to coordinate and communicate with other projects in order to create something new within the space. “It’s a great way for users to change their bear according to the weather, or the [current] holiday, or whatever.”

She continues: “I honestly think [Trait Swap] is a great idea because we can make more utility traits — and it’s a good possibility for other projects, because, let’s be honest — it’s hard to make a good project because there are a lot of them out right now.”

Using NFTs for crowdfunding

We’ve all heard about the current war and Russian invasion currently waging in Ukraine. One notable feature of the crisis is how the country has pioneered a new source of financial support, as people across the globe have donated millions of dollars towards war efforts using cryptocurrency. According to Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister for digital transformation, “crypto is playing a significant role in Ukraine’s defence.” As of the time of writing, the Ukrainian government has raised over $42 million USD in donations.

As a Ukrainian based in Poland, Anna also breaks down how the Fancy Bears community has joined the cause. They’ve launched a side project that’s focused on raising funds for Ukrainian refugees currently affected by the current crisis — particularly those who have crossed the Polish border to escape the dangers of the war.

“We decided to make these NFTs for Ukraine — not just because I’m Ukrainian, but because other team members are also from Ukraine.” As of the time of interviewing, Anna notes that 2 million Ukrainian refugees have since fled over to Polish soil. “We just saw that people are in need — they need our help and we decided that we can use the metaverse and NFTs to help them.”

From here, the community plans on deciding which organisation they will allocate the money towards.

Seeing new possibilities for women in Web3

“I’m really happy that it’s a new area, so you can try to make even crazy ideas. Because [the Web3 space] is new, you can basically do everything you want.”

Regarding the timing of Web3, Anna also claims that it’s “the perfect space and perfect moment to jump into.” She’s even started encouraging her other female friends to seek out more Web3 projects. “I’m really happy that I jumped into it at this moment because everyone is learning and trying,” she also says, before also noting that there is “no big difference” between which positions are being held by either men or women. “It’s only about your skills,” she asserts.

Anna cites 3 Cups of Tea — a book about an American man who, when travelling to Afghanistan to build schools, made note of the number of female students that weren’t given the opportunity to have an education. Taking inspiration from this novel, Anna says she’s made it a personal goal to work in an area “that’s helpful for other women.”

“There is no difference if I am a man or a woman,” she comments. “It’s just about my skills, my possibilities and my knowledge about my project and the metaverse.”

She also notes how Web3 has become a “helpful area for everyone” — not just for women, but for “each person” across the world. In the metaverse, she believes that people can have experiences that in previous times, “people couldn’t even imagine.” “I have only positive feedback in this area as a woman,” she concludes, “so I’m really glad that I’m here.”

Her advice to other women entering the space? “Just try, honestly,” she says simply. “Because it’s a new area, it’s really easy to get into it. So all girls have to do is to try and to learn. There is no difference if you are a man or a woman.”

Future visions for Web3 and the metaverse

Overall, Anna notes how she is excited to see where the expansiveness of the metaverse can go — mentioning how as an art lover, she particularly enjoyed visiting virtual galleries during the COVID-19 pandemic and how she would love to see this concept become more user-friendly and immersive. At some point in time, she says that this experience will be “really amazing” and “almost like how things are in real life” — especially if it will enable people from various physical locations to meet together inside a virtual space. “You can meet your friends, even if they’re far away — one day you can just put on some glasses and you’ll all be there.”

Anna would also love to see Web3 become a helpful and more expansive space, with more gaming and PFP projects “doing great things for people”. She’s also hoping to see bigger, better and more innovative possibilities come out of Fancy Bears — especially the Trait Swap app, which she hopes to see add more capabilities to future NFT projects and appeal to greater communities and enthusiasts alike.

“Everyone is really happy that you are into it and that you’re trying to learn. You don’t need anything else — I didn’t have any technical background at all. It’s just about fast learning.”

Anna’s ideal vision of a future metaverse is, in her words, “a safe place where it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, which skin colour you have or which nationality you are. Just a safe place where you can be whatever you want.”

Learn more about Fancy Bears Metaverse

To learn more about the Fancy Bears Metaverse DAO and NFT collection, be sure to check out their official website and collection on OpenSea. You can also learn more about the community by visiting their Twitter and Instagram pages or by joining their Discord.

To learn more about the #NFTforUkraine efforts and make a donation, you can also visit their page here.