This Teen Is Now a Millionaire Selling NFT Art Because Her Parents Encouraged Her Passions

Nyla Hayes started selling her unique ‘Long Neckies’ artwork as NFTs in 2021. A year later, she’s a multi-millionaire and a reminder to parents everywhere to support their children's interests.

Young woman concentrating while drawing on digital tablet sitting in living room at home
Photo: Getty Images

There are obvious benefits to supporting your children's interests, but 13-year-old Nyla Hayes is an artist, multi-millionaire, and a reminder that supporting our children's interests can be life-changing.

Hayes' quest for success began with a love of drawing, women, and dinosaurs.

"I didn't know what to call it. So I just thought of them as "long neckies," she said during an interview with NBC News Now. "At first, I just wanted to put two things that I love together, and that was a Brontosaurus and women," she said. "I wanted to show how beautiful and strong women were, and I thought of the brontosaurus as that as well."

Her parents bought her a smartphone when she was 9 years old to practice creating digital art. A few years later, in March of 2021, her uncle told Hayes and her mother about NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are registered one-of-a-kind original creations, often an image. She and her mother researched what NFTs are and how to create and sell them online through YouTube videos. They made the 'long neckies' available for purchase, and the rest was history. "Soon, people were buying NFTs of my Long Neckies," she said, noting that she'd made more than 960 ETH, which is worth around 3.4 million dollars.

Since then, Hayes has sold countless pieces and won awards like NFT.NYC 2021 Emerging Artist of the Year and Future 50's most influential people in tech in 2021. Her most expensive piece sold for $11,738, and in total, she's made around seven million. She was also selected as TIME's Artist-in-Residence, where she created the Long Neckie Women of the Year collection, inspired by TIME's Women of the Year series cover portraits. Her collection features long-necked interpretations of notable women, including 1991 recipient Anita Hill and 2006 recipient Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

But, Nyla's story is bigger than a Black teen's overnight success with NFTs. It offers a helpful lesson on the powerful things that can happen when we affirm our children's interests and give them the tools to thrive. Her mother noticed this early on. "I could see how passionate she was about her art, and I just thought like, if I could support her in any way. That's exactly what I'm going to do," her mother, Latoya, told Today.

Hayes' story wouldn't be possible without her uncle's willingness to share what NFTs were and her family's guidance on how to bridge her interests with technology.

"Honestly, when I first heard about NFTs, I was kind of like, I honestly don't know about this, but I've been wanting to put my art out for a while, so it was a good platform to do it," the 13-year-old said.

Hayes' story reminds us that our families and our communities matter. When we encourage our children to pursue their dreams, we all win.

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