NEW YORK: FEBRUARY 3, 2016 — From the floor of NY NOW, the Emerald Expositions tradeshow for “home, lifestyle and gift” products:
Opportunistic Vote. FCTRY has been selling its Hillary Clinton action figures for about a year. “After Iowa, we’re rushing Bernie [Sanders] into production.”
Reviving a Regional Brand. Louis Sherry. Boomer New Yorkers know the name from fine chocolates and ice cream, and its eponymous owner’s posthumous role as one half of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel name. “The brand never totally disappeared,” Louis Sherry, Inc. President Tim Tippin told me. Tippin was standing behind an array of tins sporting the original colors, designs, and logos from Louis Sherry confectionary. Beatrice Foods was the last “major” owner (Beatrice and its assets went through multiple hands after KKR bought them in the late 1980s). Tippin acquired the brand about nine years ago and, together with his fiancé, whose grandfather was involved with the original company, oversees the operation producing hand-made chocolates. “It takes a long time to research the original packaging and come up with the right products,” but he’s been selling the chocolates in recent years to upscale resorts and department stores including Saks and Henri Bendel. “I’m open to a ‘better’ coffee or tea licensee, and a premium ice cream licensee,” he says. Ironic note: Back in the early 1960s, Tippin adds, “Louis Sherry distributed Haagen Dazs when it was just starting out.”
From Sourcing to Licensing. Cufflinks Inc. has been around since 1999, which is about when we first met Marc Ostrofsky, a venture capital investor in Cufflinks and Blinds.com, and author of “Get Rich Click!: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money Online.” He was walking Licensing Expo at the time and wasn’t sure about licensing as a business model for the company vs. sourcing others’ goods for sale via his then-new online-only venture. Fast forward to 2006 and Cufflinks started manufacturing its own products. Today, the company licenses NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA teams; Marvel; Disney; DC; and, of course, Star Wars, and sells on its website but also through traditional retail channels. “We put aggressive projections on Star Wars last January ,” President Paul Song told me. “But we sold out of many Star Wars SKUs in December, and it’s still going strong.” Substantially stronger than any other property, Song notes. Cufflinks also offers licensed socks and ties, and has its own Ox & Bull brand and original designs at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and others.
Doodle Me This. Three year old Eat Sleep Doodle out of Salisbury, England, typically frames the area where you doodle on its sheets, aprons, soft sack back packs and other items with special washable markers. Founder/CEO Chrissie Probert-Jones is open to the notion of licensed images (most likely entertainment properties, or publishing classics) that could be permanently outlined and then colored. Given the adult coloring craze, the time might be right for adults as well as kids.
Pedaling Line Extensions. I recognized Vital Industries’ screen printed (by hand) bicycle glasses from the Brooklyn Museum shop. Late last year Vital added porcelain plates made in Poland to the line, which also includes clothing and accessories. Some of the designs (there are more than bicycles, but that seems to be their signature) are ripe for licensing — those bicycle-design plates would be well suited for picnic gear, paper plates, cups, and napkins.
Under Cover. The Gussy is a printed rain cover for women’s purses. Founder/President Jamie Hantman is open to using licensed designs and to private label. The covers sell for $10 wholesale, $20 retail.
Ira Mayer, former publisher and executive editor of The Licensing Letter, conducts competitive research and consults for companies in the licensing business; you can contact him by clicking on the “Contact” button above left.