Independent Retail

What does ‘REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE OR COMPOST’ mean for Retailers?

What does ‘REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE OR COMPOST’ mean for Retailers?

To make effective decisions as a retailer, I believe you need to understand the trends affecting the market sector you are trading in and how these are changing what your customers are looking to buy from you and other retailers. For instance…

How does the rise of ‘Health and Wellness’ impact the ranges that retailers stock?

How does the rise of ‘Health and Wellness’ impact the ranges that retailers stock?

As retailers, we should all be thinking about how we can maximise any opportunities that changes in circumstance present. More than that, we need to be keeping our eyes open and actively looking for them - and Health & Wellness is a growing trend that I believe we should all be paying attention to! Here’s why…

Speaking at Lucy Ledger's Creative Business Masterclass

Speaking at Lucy Ledger's Creative Business Masterclass

After a busy few days in Brighton for ACE2019 - I’m now heading to London for tomorrow’s Creative Business Masterclass led by the inspirational, multi award-winning designer Lucy Ledger at the V&A…

Why retailers can’t go wrong with ranges for children, pets, sport and games! 

Why retailers can’t go wrong with ranges for children, pets, sport and games! 

In my last blog in this series, I explained why during times of uncertainty people chose to spend time together doing things that don’t cost money. When they do buy products they will be items that enhance whatever it is they are doing together… 

A good example of this is games and jigsaws which are seeing a significant increase in sales at the moment with many new products being launched to appeal to new emerging markets and consumers who would not have bought these previously. We want to laugh and have fun and what better way to do it than play games!

Why ‘lifestyle’ needs to be a top buying consideration for Independent Retailers right now!

Why ‘lifestyle’ needs to be a top buying consideration for Independent Retailers right now!

Earlier this month, I was asked to present on the Main Stage at Spring Fair - and ‘lifestyle’ was one of the major trends I talked about, explaining why it’s of particular importance during this time of economic and social uncertainty in Britain…

How will past trends help us prepare for 2019?

How will past trends help us prepare for 2019?

 It’s already the last day of Spring Fair 2019 and I’m still wondering where the whole of last year went?! So before this year flies by any further - lets take stock, reflect on the trends of last year and see which are likely to continue to effect us in 2019. Understanding this will help you decide what to include in your range and identify product areas or categories you might want to introduce, grow or indeed remove. It really is worth taking some time to read these tips and think things through before investing in lots of new products for 2019.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2019!

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2019!

If you’re still working on Christmas Eve (and if you’ve not already had enough of Christmas) here’s a round up of my Top 3 blogs for making the most of Christmas as an Independent Retailer. Do take a read and make sure you take a note of everything you have learned over this festive period, so you can put it to good use in 2019…

It's a Kid's Life

It's a Kid's Life

At this time of year, it’s really evident that it’s a kid’s life! Card sending is all about marking occasions - be they personal and individual or seasonal and cultural. As a retailer, thinking about these in relation to children specifically can open up all sorts of opportunities to broaden your occasions offer and there has never been a better time to do it…

The art of Licensing for Cards, Stationery and Gifts

I have worked in the card industry for over 10 years and in all of that time there have been leading card ranges which have been based around licensed content - be it imagery, text or both. As a buyer at the National Trust I had a lot of licensed cards in our range including several from Woodmansterne who had a broad portfolio of licenses that suited our customers very well including cartoonist Matt, Spike Milligan, and the Trust’s own imagery which we used to produce a very popular range of their iconic photographic cards.

Licensing content for products can be an excellent way of manufacturers tapping in to a vein of consumer demand as they aspire to the values of the brand, celebrity or lifestyle they believe it reflects. Having said that there is a real art to making the most of the license; you cannot slap an image on something and because it links to a brand expect it to sell. It will only work if the brand values of the brand being licensed reflect the brand values of the range it is being applied to, so the consumer understands the link. The product quality and price also need to be consistent with the products perceived value too.

It’s why those involved in managing licenses try very hard to find the right brands to work with. Obvious and clear brand links can drive strong sales and work well for both parties. However, get it wrong and it can be costly for the licensee as they are likely to be paying an upfront fee as well as royalties - and for the licensor it can be a missed opportunity because the exclusivity clause means that for a period the rights cannot be granted to anyone else in that sector. 

Live Gently on this Earth from Glebe Cottages best selling collection by Kate Andrew.jpg

I believe the success of licensing is completely dependent on brand fit and for me a fantastic example of this is Glebe Cottage, The Eco Friendly Card Company, who from their earliest days in the mid 90’s have made sure that their products are at the forefront in using environmentally friendly technologies and materials to ensure that they are always offering buyers environmentally sound product options. Glebe Cottage license images from The Wildlife Trust, which is a very comfortable fit with both brand’s values supporting one another perfectly and particularly relevant to consumers currently as the focus on the environment and waste increases. 

Swimming Seal from The Wildlife Trust's Collection published by Glebe Cottage.jpg
Evening Swallow by Mandy Beeching part of Glebe Cottages range printed on coffeee cup board.jpg

Speaking to Sue Morrish, co director of Glebe Cottage this week she confirmed that recently they have been approached by other organisations with an environmental agenda because of their green credentials including companies wanting to develop bespoke ranges too. 

For the licensor allowing others to use their images is a great way of extending the use of their designs and thereby recognition of their brand in other product areas. If the right licensing partner has been selected it is likely to be a good way of generating a steady income stream too through upfront payments and royalties without the risk of investing in stock themselves. This has encouraged many museums and charities, who are always looking for new ways of funding their work and who have the most wonderful treasures to allow images of them to be made available for licensing.  

Meg Hawkins, a recent licensing success story, says:

As an artist with a passion for creating gifts, fashion and homeware, there is only so far you can go yourself. Licensing has opened up so many doors and is the opportunity to take my brand, Meg Hawkins Art, to the next level. A licensing agreement is an overwhelming stamp of approval for your work and provides you with a network of skill, expertise and reach that it would be otherwise impossible to access’.

Jessica Hogarth specialises in illustration and surface pattern design and has been involved in licensing for a number of years. She explains:

‘One of my most exciting licensing collaborations to date has been with a textile company, we have put two of my designs on to bedding, cushions, storage sacks and Christmas stockings. The stock is available solely through shopping channel QVC and the products are all labelled with my logo and I have been on live TV 3 times …….the Cottages print featured on one of my first ever card designs and Snowy Town was originally created as a gift wrap which was licensed through Deva Designs but then I utilised the illustrations for a Christmas card range, which I had great sales from.’

Jess also has a long standing relationship with Trimcraft, a major supplier into the haberdashery and craft sectors so you can see how broad the appeal of her designs is, she comments:

‘I love licensing because it allows me to get my designs on to products I can’t afford to manufacture myself, working with established and respected companies within the design industry helps me to get my illustration work out to a wider audience’.

But in reading this please don’t think that this is an easy way to increase your income. Licensing can be a regular source of income for the licensor without having to invest in stock but Meg commented to me that:

 ‘The process is a long and often challenging one as you navigate your way through the contracts… I cannot stress more, the importance of belonging to an organisation such as the Giftware Association. The GA has provided me with invaluable guidance, support and reassurance since I joined two years ago and they have been pivotal in me securing some of my biggest licensing agreements. Securing these licensing agreements has been life changing. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been signed by Widdop & Co, My Gifts Trade, Instawrap, Evergreen Enterprises and Tilnar Art. Each has a slightly different approach and a different retail focus, so I am very excited to see what 2019 brings for me with the support of these fantastic licensing companies.  

A ’good’ license can be a positive experience for everyone involved and I think we are likely to see a lot more collaborations in all industry sectors in the future. At the time of publishing this blog, Meg’s Recycled Aluminium produced with Tilner Art had just won the Best Home and Gift category at GLEE.