World of Women Founder Yam Karkai Brings Inclusivity to the Blockchain

Interview by Kate Dwyer
Photographs by Andrew Nuding
Styled by Kieran Kilgallon
Originally Published: 

Yam Karkai wearing a Colville maroon and beige dress, her own jewelry, and sneakers, with her dog ne...
Yam Karkai wears a Colville dress; her own jewelry and sneakers.

For W’s annual The Originals portfolio, we asked creatives—pioneers in the fields of art, design, fashion, comedy, activism, and more—to share their insights on staying true to themselves. See this year’s full class of creatives here.

After three years of working as an artist and illustrator, you entered the NFT space and created a collection of diverse PFPs [NFT profile pictures]. What is World of Women, and why did you start it?

I entered the Web3 space [a nascent iteration of the Internet that emphasizes decentralization and blockchain technology] early last year, selling my single-edition art pieces through these NFT platforms. I saw there was a huge lack of representation in this space, which really frustrated me. As the movement of NFT profile-picture collections, like the “Bored Apes,” started booming, I thought, I’m going to do the same thing, but it’s going to be a collection of women of all skin colors, all ethnicities. The response to them really showed me this problem was much bigger than I thought. There were a lot of women hiding or being quiet in this space because they didn’t feel appreciated or seen. Now we’re an established company with almost 20 employees, and it’s only been a year.

Do you think it’s easier to be original today than it was 20 years ago?

Technology is a double-edged sword. It has allowed us to achieve incredible things, and as we’ve seen with Web3, it has enabled communities from all around the world to connect and to form ideas and resources to be shared more efficiently and directly. But at the same time, technology has disconnected us from certain things and has made us lazier. Maybe before, people made more of an effort with certain things that now we just take for granted.

How do you think Web3 has changed the game for artists?

You’re able to put your art out there in front of collectors around the world, and people don’t care where you’ve shown, who you are, or where you come from. It’s all about the art and how it touches people. It is harder to make a living from your art when you don’t have the right connections. This allows anybody to do that.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about NFTs and blockchain technology?

A lot of people assume that this is just speculation, and that it’s all about making money really fast and the same people getting richer and richer every day. And while it is true that a lot of the same people are getting richer, blockchain technology is an opener for so many more things that we can do as individuals in the long term. Another misconception is that this is all made just for dudes.

Where in the world, and doing which activity, are you happiest?

I love cooking with my mom—it’s like therapy. Or being in the desert at night, looking at the grandness of the sky and sharing a meal with my husband, friends, or family members.

Hair and Makeup by Julia Krämer.

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