Olivia off-shoulder jumpsuit with MetaGolden necklace
To anyone who questions society's rapid transition into a heavily digitalized space, where things like NFTs (non-fungible tokens), cryptocurrency and blockchain technology consume our everyday, Francine Ballard quips, "It will be just like the Internet. People might not understand how it works exactly, but they use it."
Ballard is the Houston-based CEO of House of Web3, which sells jewelry and apparel that is tied to unique digital assets. (Think wearable 18K gold jewelry, plus a digital art component featuring the jewelry in its design.) A longtime fashion editor, she launched the company in April 2021 after discovering how blockchain technology relates to her interest in luxury resale. "With blockchain, you can assign royalties and digital smart contracts, which is what an NFT is," she says. "That royalty automatically tracks a product's amount over its lifecycle. You can't break it. It's indestructible, immutable and perpetual."
House of Web3 (HW3) has since collaborated on art and jewelry collections with Moda Operandi, Fred Segal and Sotheby's, with other big retailers on the horizon. It's an enormous testament to Ballard's success as an entrepreneur, especially in an industry where most key players are men. On the heels of a rebrand (from Metagolden) to accommodate the growing vision for her business, Ballard — a longtime friend and colleague of Max Trowbridge and an ardent supporter of Eve & Max — chats about our future as a digital society.
What was the initial consumer response to your first 'connected fashion' brand, Metagolden?
Proceeds from our first jewelry collection gave me the ability to reinvest in the business. Subsequent collections then oversold. Some people told me, women don't follow this, or they won't buy it, but they did. I was able to reinvest once again and rebuild the website to be Web3 compatible, meaning you can purchase with a credit card or crypto.
Describe your brand's recent evolution from Metagolden into its new name, House of Web3.
We launched as a jewelry brand, which was perfect two years ago when we were the first movers in the space. We've now been fortunate to collaborate with fashion brands and artists, and I want to broaden my offering to our consumers via apparel. We have big plans to push the boundaries further and incorporate a centralized community into our House of Web3 platform with our Founders Membership Pass this month. We are where digital and IRL fashion converge.
Why does Web3 — the latest iteration of the Internet after the more static Web1 and social-driven Web2 — appeal to you so much?
The metaverse is powered by blockchain (a more immersive version of the Internet). It is decentralized and self-sovereign. Individuals have the power, just like an entrepreneur. Everyone is funding growth for something, and they benefit from it as well. There are financial incentives to participate. When you buy a digital membership token, you are buying into collective ideals. The power of the community is what will push the next project forward.
What will House of Web3 offer?
Apparel and jewelry tied to unique digital assets like 'wearables' which you can wear in VR (virtual reality), or opulent filters that you can wear in AR (augmented reality) on your social feeds (Instagram, Snapchat).
Let's talk more fashion with your favorite Eve & Max pieces.
I have so many! The one shoulder jumpsuit, the hoodies, the silk pants… I'm always traveling for work and talking about sustainability, and I want to stand behind what I'm talking about. Eve & Max is a brand I believe in. One day soon- with everything you wear you'll have the capability to trace how it was sourced and produced. Max launched her product with that in mind- telling the story of the garment, where it came from, what materials were used. It's about accountability.
Why does the Eve & Max brand resonate with you?
Max is a dynamo. She doesn't wait for answers or solutions to come to her- she creates them. She's wildly inventive and entrepreneurial and her designs are uniquely artistic. I think she's really, way ahead of the curve with what she's doing. That's what inspires me about her brand and what I hope to accomplish with my own.