theWeb3.News Audio Experience
Today, we have the distinct honor of sitting down with a trailblazer who seamlessly bridges the worlds of fashion, technology, and social impact. Tracy Greenan, a visionary entrepreneur, and founder, stands at the forefront of pioneering initiatives that challenge the norms and carve a path toward a brighter future.
With an impressive portfolio that spans from her groundbreaking AURA label, one of the world’s first phygital jewelry brands, to her transformative Gamers Over Guns initiative, Tracy’s journey is one marked by innovation, dedication, and a deep commitment to creating meaningful change. Her ability to conquer challenges and create the seemingly impossible is evident not only in her ventures but also in her role as an inspiring public speaker and advisor to cutting-edge projects.
As we dig into this conversation, we will explore Tracy’s insights into business growth, personal transformation, and her futuristic vision for the industries she touches. From her experiences on President Obama’s campaign trail to her involvement in advisory boards and councils, Tracy’s journey is a testament to the power of innovation, collaboration, and unwavering purpose.
Let’s find out the layers of Tracy Greenan’s entrepreneurial spirit and gain insights into how she is creating the future of fashion, technology, and youth empowerment. Welcome to this exclusive interview with a true visionary and changemaker, Tracy Greenan.
The environment we grow up in often plays a role in shaping our passions. Were there any specific moments or interests from your formative years that hinted at the entrepreneur and innovator you would become later in life?
As a child, I’ve always been curious about how products were made. I remember being at a pharmacy when I was about 12 or 13 years old and wondering who the people were who created cosmetics brands in the store and how the process was to get into stores. But it was really when I was about 8 years old that I was given a toy called Fashion Plates, where you could switch out clothing templates to create your own looks that really got me intrigued. There was also a department store catalog that was delivered to my parents’ home every season and I remember looking through the clothing section and was so sure I could do better than that so I created a portfolio and told my mother to send it to the department store immediately. I never knew what happened to those designs! I knew I wanted to be in the fashion business at a very early age and never doubted my ability.
Reflecting on your journey from building a clothing brand to founding AURA and Gamers Over Guns, how has your understanding of entrepreneurship evolved over the years?
It’s really a matter of experimenting with what works and what doesn’t and learning, adjusting, developing, and leading with it. You must be constantly evolving to align with your target market and reinvent your brand to their tastes.
If things don’t work out with an idea, don’t see it as a negative. Failure is always a good experience because that’s how we learn and what makes us stronger and better at what we do. It builds character.
Your commitment to empowering youth through technology, design, and entrepreneurship with Gamers Over Guns is inspiring. Can you share a specific moment when you witnessed a tangible impact on a young person’s life through this initiative?
Gamers Over Guns is a new initiative and our mission is to empower all kids from unserved communities who miss out on opportunities due to circumstances and systems.
Gamers Over Guns has quickly gained attention for its innovative approach. Could you elaborate on a specific partnership or strategic decision that significantly accelerated the growth and reach of this transformative initiative?
We are currently in talks with some big players but unfortunately cannot speak about them at the moment.
From launching AURA to your involvement with advisory boards and councils, you’ve engaged in diverse roles. How do you balance these roles to foster personal growth while effectively contributing to each endeavor?
It really is about prioritizing and making the effort to make time for roles of the most importance. For example, my interns are a big priority for me because I remember how scary it was being young, newly graduated, and needing that support. I want to be there for them, not just as a founder, but as a mentor. They can reach out to me anytime, beyond their internship. I balance out my many roles by making sure my mental and physical health, which I take very seriously, is as equally important as my work.
AURA’s phygital concept is intriguing, but the NFT market it intersects with has faced criticism for environmental concerns and speculation-driven bubbles. How do you ensure that AURA doesn’t contribute to the negative aspects of the NFT space?
After experimenting with NFTs with AURELIA + ICARUS, I decided I did not want to continue in that direction. I do feel there is still value in certain NFTs and blockchains applied in specific industries.
I developed AURA to be purely a digital fashion label for gaming.
Some might argue that digital fashion is inherently exclusionary, catering mostly to those with access to technology and virtual platforms. How does AURA ensure that it doesn’t further widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the fashion world?
The space is ever-transforming and becoming more and more accessible. Just as mobile phones first came out, we need to be patient as technology becomes more accessible to everyone. Digital fashion is much more affordable than physical apparel, so the opportunity to enjoy this technology is more about accessibility and how we can improve on it to broaden the scope for everyone.
Transitioning from the physical fashion world to the digital landscape with AURA and Gamers Over Guns is a significant shift. What pivotal moment prompted you to make this transition and what did you learn from it?
I had heard about digital fashion during Covid, was very intrigued and then I got distracted with everyday business and forgot about it. It wasn’t until I did a Clubhouse talk with a Parisian phygital fashion brand and a digital fashion platform in Vienna that I knew this was something seismic happening in the industry and if I didn’t get on board now I was going to get left behind.
The transition from AURELIA + ICARUS to AURA is intriguing. What were the primary factors that led to this evolution, and how do you envision this rebranding contributing to the further growth of your business?
When Snap discontinued the ability to use their AR on video calls that was a big blow to a lot of digital fashion houses, including my company. One brand I knew of had created an entire collection, just for video calls. Snap never gave a reason why they decided to kill it, so I don’t know the reasoning or if they have something planned. I had a hard rethink over the spring. I knew digital fashion is the future of fashion, and I didn’t want to be engaged in the direction of still selling physical pieces. The environmental cost behind continuing to sell physical products was weighing heavy on my mind and I decided the time was now to make a bold move for the environment. Last year I had wanted to get into gaming, but then got caught up in the hysteria regarding web3 (I did over 30 talks last year alone just on the subject). Now that the dust has settled I knew gaming was the clear choice. The stats behind traffic in big games was too attractive to ignore.
Your journey involves mentorship, innovation, and leadership in various capacities. Looking back, what key personal qualities or skills have you honed that have consistently played a role in your growth across different ventures?
To be a leader you need to have a thick skin and be able to be level-headed and think outside the box while also having the ability to oversee all segments of your business. Treating people how you would expect to be treated is super important. Look at the big picture and ask yourself, what would (add 20 years onto your age) advise you about how you feel about things now?
Many people say they do not regret anything in life, but I certainly do. I have piles of regrets. But I’ve also had some beautiful wins for which I am deeply, extremely grateful. My parents are an interracial couple from opposite sides of the world. They each immigrated to North America on their own back in the 1950s. Back then it was illegal in some states to be in an interracial relationship. They probably don’t see it this way, but to me, they were bold, brave trailblazers. They lit the path for me and not a day goes by when I don’t think about how fortunate I am and the efforts I should make. This is what drives me because I don’t want the sacrifices they made for me to be in vain.
Bridging the gap between fashion and technology is a unique endeavor. Could you share a pivotal learning experience that highlighted the importance of these intersections in your own growth as an entrepreneur?
I didn’t know much about web3 when I got into it. So I realized the best way to go about it was to collaborate with designers and companies that are already in the space. I am more of an ideas person, so when I partner up with someone, it’s best to make sure we’re on the right page and each knows exactly what they are doing. Costs in tech can spiral out of control very easily, so I make sure to negotiate to cap those costs and have everything well organized and planned accordingly.
Your involvement in President Obama’s campaign and now with initiatives like Gamers Over Guns reflect a strong commitment to social impact. How has your passion for creating positive change influenced your entrepreneurial pursuits?
I come from a very unique background that has shaped my social issues. Both my parents are from areas of the world with violent histories. The front of my aunt’s house in Belfast, Northern Ireland is riddled with bullet holes and many of my cousins have been shot with rubber bullets–which are anything but rubber– sending them to the hospital for three weeks to recover. In my mother’s native country of the Phillippines, guns are everywhere and on her island of Mindanao just a few years ago black Isis flags were flying.
In 2017 I got caught in the middle of a terrorist attack in Stockholm Sweden. I will never forget the horror I witnessed that day and am not sure how I survived as I was right there. When I emerged from the building there was screaming, smoke and ash flying everywhere, and the smell of burning plastic. I had to put my hands up as there were helicopters with men in black uniforms hanging out pointing their machine guns at all the survivors. It is a day I will never forget.
There is too much violence in the world, and I want to solve it in my own small way, at least trying to use the knowledge and skills that I have is the best method I can offer.
You’ve spoken at numerous events, including your role as a public speaker. How has stepping onto stages around the world influenced your own growth and understanding of your message’s impact?
Public speaking had always been a fear, but I find the more I do it, the easier it is. Plus I always feel taking a stab at anything scary is a good thing in shaping character. This spring I was on a panel discussion and a young man asked us, ‘What are you doing to make the world a better place?’ At the time I had not formalized Gamers Over Guns, but I’m so glad I had an answer, which was my company had ‘buddied up’ with one of our suppliers in the Ukraine to help their business stay afloat during the war. It’s these types of questions from various audiences that help me consider new things. Connecting with a variety of audiences is enriching and fulfilling.
Your ventures span multiple sectors, from fashion to gaming and technology. Looking forward, how do you envision synergizing these diverse aspects to drive exponential growth and maintain a cohesive brand identity across your ventures?
One of the most important factors in building a business is ensuring authenticity in what you are creating. If that is not there, consumers will respond to it by simply not buying it. You’ve got to remain on point, and not be distracted by what other people are doing and think you need to do it. It’s got to fit in your brand naturally and enhance each segment to succeed in reaching your revenue goals.
Given your commitment to innovation, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to create businesses that are not only successful in the present but also align with futuristic trends and technologies?
In my opinion, it’s great to have a business head, but there other components one must have to be a successful tech entrepreneur:
- We’re built differently and character plays a big part. One must really need to have Teflon skin to be able to shake off immense pressure that would normally crush most people. We’re bold and we’re risk-takers.
- Never take things personally. It’s just business. Emotions have to be in check, you’ve got to keep your cool if things don’t go the way you want. Learn from failure: we learn, we move on, and we explore new options and opportunities.
- Remember it’s never the end of the world when things fall apart.
- Think long and hard before hiring friends and family. How do you think your BFFs are going to feel if they do a less-than-stellar job and you have to fire them?
- Collaboration is essential in web3. Before you partner up with someone, research who they are and speak to people who have done business with them. Were they happy with the outcome? Paid on time? Good communicators? Who are the founders? If you are considering partnering with a web3 platform, what kind of traffic is on there? How does data capture work? Are the smart contracts actually that smart?
- Sometimes nasty can be nice: know the difference between someone who can get stuff done or not. Someone could be the nicest, friendliest person in the world to work with, but they may also not get stuff done. I would rather work with an absolute asshole who gets shit done than a nice person who does nothing. 😉
- Get a CFO! It’s shocking to see startups without one. If you can’t afford to hire one full-time, get a fractional CFO with decent references that have at least a general grasp of the industry.
- Sharpen your soft skills. Being an entrepreneur can be very lonely. Reach out to others and join startup/entrepreneur groups. We all need others we can relate to and vent with, and support each other. That’s how we grow and that’s the backbone of our success.
How can people find out more about Gamers Over Guns and AURA and connect with you?
Every collaborative occasion that presents itself is very welcome. I’m a very approachable person!
Reach out to me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracygreenan/
AURA is iAmAURA.me