FTX recently appointed Lauren Remington Platt as its head of global luxury partnerships, a brand-new position at the crypto exchange.
In an interview with The Block, Platt – formerly the co-founder and CEO of on-demand beauty company Vensette – explains why she entered the crypto space, what her role at FTX will entail, the benefit to consumers when fashion brands move into crypto, and what she hopes to accomplish in this new role.
This interview transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Anushree Dave: You have a lot of experience in the fashion industry and could’ve done a lot of other things. Why did you move into crypto and this role specifically?
Lauren Remington Platt: During the pandemic my previous startup was on hold, and I had heard about crypto from the start. I have a lot of friends that were in the space and within the venture community. But it wasn't until my mother really sat me down. My mother's a doctor, and she's really been interested in blockchain AI. For the last five years, she's been going to some of the first and earliest Bitcoin conferences…she explained to me in layman's terms what crypto was and how it could affect everyday life and how this is going to be the future.
I also noticed that there weren't a lot of people with my background in fashion and luxury and beauty. I really saw a huge opportunity. I was like, wait a minute, I can really help here, I can really make a difference. I think what Sam has done so phenomenally well is just these really out-of-the-box partnerships. And for me, I'm like, let's do that in the fashion and beauty category and position FTX in a way that we can build brand and consumer trust, and awareness with a wider audience.
AD: What are you most excited about accomplishing in this role?
LRP: I think what I'm most excited about is…partnering with brands and people that may not seem obvious off the bat. I think the luxury market is ripe for this type of partnership. The numbers speak for themselves. The luxury market is a $310 billion market. And it's expected to grow by $70 billion in the next three years. So that's a lot of money. And half of that is being spent in Asia, and the US, which are our two biggest markets.
AD: What is the benefit to consumers when luxury brands move into crypto?
LRP: Well, I think it really depends on the brand. I think blockchain technology for the entire fashion industry is just better. It traces the authenticity and the provenance of an item.
Let’s say you purchase a watch. You will know who the owner was before, and if it’s authentic and legitimate. You know that it's not fake, so you can really track that item. Also, just from an operational perspective, the blockchain is powerful in terms of speeding up that process. It just makes it a lot more efficient. When it comes to NFTs in the metaverse, you know, I think that's a personal decision for the brand. That's not something that I'm necessarily working on right now.
AD: What do you want to accomplish in the near term?
LRP: My goal in the first six months, is, in a gentle way, to start exposing this different demographic – that hasn't been reached through our sports partnerships – and introduce them to the brand of FTX, to have them start seeing the brand in publications that they trust with our celebrity partners who they know. And to come to understand Sam's passion and his vision and why did he built up FTX, his goal for effective altruism and philanthropy, and really give back to the world.
AD: Sustainability comes up a lot when people talk about fashion, and climate change also comes up in the crypto world. How will these two areas come together in a way that can be positive for the environment? Will you be working with Gisele Bundchen on this?
LRP: Gisele is the head of FTX’s environmental initiative, and we've made a number of donations to environmental causes. She will be spearheading those investments and what causes we will be supporting. On a high level when I do explain the environmental impact, I think of several things. If you just even take FTX as an example, we’re worth $32 billion yet we only employ a few hundred people. Compare that to a large bank that maybe has a valuation a little bit lower than ours, that is employing thousands of people and has offices all over the world. There are environmental implications around electricity, having to commute to offices, huge buildings. Compared to that, crypto is something that is able to be quite nimble. With Gisele, we’re really excited about bringing more attention and education to the space and how our foundation is working to donate to causes to help the environment.
AD: Do brands want to move into crypto? What sort of pushback have you seen?
LRP: I think the fashion world has just been very excited about all this development. I think a lot of people and brands are educating themselves before they jump in. I haven't come across a brand that says no, this is not for us, because I think they'd be missed. I think that there's an opportunity there.
I do think that there is education that needs to be done to figure out what is the right strategy for any particular brand because every brand is different. So for some companies, the focus is going to be more on NFTs. For others, it's going to be being able to buy luxury goods with crypto, which would be a fit for FTX. So I've had some really great calls ranging from, “we know exactly what we want to do” to “we need to come up with an internal strategy about how we plan to enter the metaverse.” I really feel like there's this consistent enthusiasm across the board, that this is something that's here to stay and to learn as much about it as possible.
AD: What else can we look forward to in the upcoming year in terms of your work with FTX?
LRP: We actually have some exciting stuff coming up shortly and how we're going to be positioning it to this wider audience. We’ve been working with partners that we weren't working with in the past that are really excited about the brand and to learn more. And it's their first time working with a crypto company, so look out for that.
AD: Anything I haven’t asked yet that you’d like to share?
LRP: I think just getting more women excited and interested and knowledgeable about crypto is just gonna be good for everybody. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here. I think there's so much opportunity. I really think I’m in one of the most exciting places right now in the world, and I just can't wait to get started.
Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
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