There is a strong greeting card thread that runs through the License This! competition, with finalists, judges and past winners having a greeting card industry connection.
The License This! initiative, now in its 11th year, is spearheaded by Brand Licensing Europe trade show (1-3 October at London’s ExCeL) to help secure unlicensed brands and properties to extend their brands through licensing collaborations.
Greeting card publisher and designer, Linda Wood’s Adorabubbles is one of the five finalists in the Character & Animation category alongside Carrot and Toast, Slime Fury (from Argentina), My Little Opera, Noodoll.
“I was surprised, but in a very good way, to find out that Adorabubbles had made it into the finals of License This!” Linda told PG Buzz. Although Linda’s greeting card and stationery business has been going for seven years she has seen her artwork grace all manner of products – from wall art to homewares – since she left art college in the 80s.
Linda came up with Adorabubbles specifically for the License This! competition, based around a little girl character called Mia who creates her ‘bubble friends’ from her bubble jar and they live in the garden.
“All children love bubbles and I saw a way of linking this with the wonders of nature and the environment, which is something very close to my heart,” added Linda.
The three finalists in the Brand & Design category are: Orange and Lilly (from Hungary), Owlasanas and MINU’ Tiny Little Wonders (from Italy).
Dan Grant, licensing director of Danilo is once again one of the judges of the competition for the Character and Entertainment category. It was through being a judge that Danilo signed the licence for May the Thoughts Be With You for cards and calendar as the brand’s creator Charlotte Reed.
Commenting, Dan said: “Having been part of the judging panel for the past three years, it was really pleasing to see some new and varied proposals in the character and animation category. We had a great selection of properties to judge this year from all around the world, which shows how much exposure this event is now receiving.”
It’s now down to the finalists to convince the judging panels for both categories at a live pitch on October 3, the final day of the Brand Licensing show why their property should win the prize.
The judges for the Brand and Design award also have strong greeting card credentials. They are Stuart Cox, founder of I Like Birds (a former winner and who now licences his brand to The Art File among others); Vicki Thomas, (owner of Vicki Thomas Associates); Sarah Lawrence (owner of This is Iris); Jehane Boden Spiers (founder of Jehane) all three of whom supply greeting card companies with designs on behalf of artists. Plus, Will Stewart, managing director, The Point 1888 (a leading brand licensing agency).
Kelvyn Gardner, managing director of Licensing International is chair of the judging panel with Sarah Ward, ceo of the Giftware Association and Victor Caddy, partner of Wynne-Jones IP also involved.
Up close with Sarah Burman…
If Linda Wood was to be triumphant in the License This! competition she will follow hot on the heels of fellow cardie, Sarah Burman (founder of Sarah Burman Design) who won the competition’s Brand & Design category last year with her Animals! Brand and, as part of her prize receives a free stand for at the show this October in the Art & Design Zone.
Fellow cardies, Pabuku and Gail Grisham were also in the finals last year.
PG Buzz caught up with Sarah Burman, a Ladder Club ‘graduate’ who made her debut at PG Live in June to find out more…
Where did you get the idea for your brand?
“I would say that my huge love of animals was my inspiration and forms the basis for my brand. Since I was a child, I have loved to draw, and I have combined both passions into something which has evolved over the years into a style that I am very proud of. My current range of Baby Dinos developed from some artwork created for a friend’s nursery when she was expecting her first baby.”
Why did you enter License This!?
“Having researched the world of licensing, I was unsure of how to get started or of how my images would be received so I entered the competition to find out. Although very nervous to present my work for the first time, it was a privilege to have the opportunity to receive feedback and encouragement from some very experienced people within the industry. I was overwhelmed by the positivity of the judges.”
At that point, how much did you know about licensing?
“I knew a little about the principles of licensing, mainly in relation to the merchandising of characters in films to boost sales and profitability, but I had no idea of how to go about entering this industry.”
How do you see your brand growing in terms of licensing – in what categories can you see it working?
“Some of my designs are particularly suited to the children’s market, for instance on nursery linens/décor, soft furnishings as well as lunchboxes, first dinner sets, clothing or puzzles and toys and are attractive enough for top end high street retailers.
I am particularly keen to explore the area of educational toys that help with child development, but which are also fun and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, most of my characters have names and I plan to create storylines around some to bring them to life. For instance, my vet is still waiting for the story of ‘Stinky Graham’, a hedgehog with ‘issues’ which they persuaded me to re-home or the story of Bala, our dog, who appeared at our villa while we were on honeymoon and who we drove back to Italy for six weeks later.”
And what retailers would you like to work with?
“I would be keen to work with popular retailers such as John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bébé or Mattel Toys where I can see my designs fitting in well. I have also had the opportunity to supply a number of independent shops who have showcased my products enthusiastically and with whom I hope to continue in the future.
In addition, I have produced examples of how my designs would look on a variety of homewares products which I will feature at BLE.”
What are you hoping to get from exhibiting at BLE this October?
“…I am thrilled to be an exhibitor at BLE in October and excited about the prospect of meeting potential licensees who will hopefully share my enthusiasm for my brand and who will assist me to develop it into marketable products. It is always useful to receive feedback.”
Apart from winning, what did you get out of entering the License This! competition?
“From the application process through to the presentation it is an extraordinary learning experience which helps to focus ideas about your brand and the direction it is going in. Everyone involved in the competition is so supportive and encouraging, making it an excellent way to find out about an exciting industry and how to get into it.”
* BLE will take place 1-3 October 2019 at ExCeL London. To register to attend go to brandlicensing.eu/register
Top: Mia and the Adorabubbles is a brand concept created by Linda Wood.