Thorne Melcher and Mandy Musselwhite had just $1 in their shared bank account when they released Dastardly Ducks, a collection of 10,000 NFTs, on January 19, 2022. The Atlanta-based couple needed $35,000 to avoid foreclosure on their homestead – which is also home to their ducks, geese, and other animals.
Within just six hours, all the non-fungible tokens had sold, netting them $120,000. The sale not only saved their property but also cemented their passion for the NFT space and community.
The origins of Dastardly Ducks
Melcher and Musselwhite used all of their savings to purchase their homestead in 2019 for $300,000. Unfortunately, in February of that year, Melcher lost her job as a software engineer. Since then, the couple had been living on the little money that Musselwhite earned selling her art. However, this wasn’t enough to cover both the house mortgage and their expenses, and soon they started falling behind.
“I knew we had to think of something. We really didn’t want to lose this property, we love it here. The animals love it here.” Musselwhite told CNBC.
The couple decided to launch an NFT collection in the time they had to prevent foreclosure. Musselwhite used her design skills to create 10,000 duck-themed artworks that featured 100 different traits. Melcher employed her Solidity programming skills to mint these artworks as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. At that time, the couple didn’t have the money even to pay the smart contract fee for their NFTs, but luckily a friend of theirs lent them the required amount.
Others in the crypto community who knew about the couple’s troubles helped spread the word about their project. Fortunately, Melcher and Musselwhite’s hard work and the community’s support weren’t in vain. When the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection released in April 2021 was all booked within 12 hours of its launch; Dastardly Ducks was declared sold in half of that time.
The very next day, Melcher and Musslewhite wrote a $40,000 check to their housing company to pay for the mortgage and back dues. Melcher said in an interview, “We saved our farm by selling cartoon ducks. It was like a fever dream.”
The couple is now working as full-time NFT creators. They have named their homestead/studio smol-farm, and recently, Iron chef Cat Cora contacted Musselwhite regarding a new NFT project meant for charity purposes. The project is named yokitty, and its earnings will be used to help the war-affected Ukrainians.
The earnings from Dastardly Ducks have also allowed Merchel to support more animals on their farm and for Musslewhite to work on her artwork. In an interview, She reveals, “before NFTs, I was primarily just a commission-based artist, and I drew a LOT of stuff that I would have never wanted to draw if I wasn’t getting paid for it. I didn’t even make that much doing commissions— about $20k a year while working every single day. NFTs have made it to where I can financially support myself without having to draw what other people want me to draw— there’s so much more room for creative freedom.”
The success of Dastardly Ducks, as well as projects like the UkraineDAO, have proved the power of NFTs in helping humanity through some of the worst circumstances. This positive change has also encouraged more people to trust the NFT community for crowdfunding purposes. Moreover, the NFT projects that are aimed at raising money for supporting an initiative are now seen as web3 backed alternatives to traditional fundraising websites like GoFundMe or Mightycause.