Has anyone ever given you some off-the-cuff piece of advice that sparked a revelation that up until that moment should have been so simple and obvious? Here’s my moment: I had been working for various media companies including Nickelodeon and Discovery Channel. I decided it was time to jump the corporate ship to define my own hours and work in a field that I was passionate about – design, fashion and branding. Noticing that my lack of income had zero impact on my shopping habits, a friend of mine remarked that I should approach designers that I collected about working with them so that I could at least score some discounts. It was a joke, a casual piece of advice given on a street corner in the West Village, but for me it was a moment of encouragement that sparked a business that I have been running for over 15 years.
A few days after my street corner conversation, I was looking around my apartment filled with pottery and pillows created by a designer that I had first read about in Vogue, Jonathan Adler. I had a vision for all kinds of lifestyle products that Adler could create. I specifically recall making my bed and wondering why I was buying Wamsutta when I could have Jonathan Adler sheets. When consumers are passionate about a brand, designer or personality they want to literally live in their world.
I decided to approach Adler armed with my licensing knowledge plus my own creative ideas as a design enthusiast for how he could grow his brand. At Nickelodeon, which I consider to be the “Harvard education of licensing,” I discovered that partnership was such a brilliant means to expand a brand. Nickelodeon was able to bring its television properties to life and create products like toys, clothes and ice cream by partnering with major players in those industries. It was a win/win for both parties because they each made money and gained exposure by continuing to do what they do best while working together. Collaboration was key.
I soon developed a niche in the licensing world, working with emerging brands that I hand-picked to align myself with, like Adler and Nate Berkus in their early days (miracle: they were both game). I’ve also consulted with major retailers like Staples, media brands and manufacturers, and most recently I represent designer Dabney Lee whose accessories, stationery and other gift items you will find (if they haven’t sold out already) throughout Target, Macy’s and other US retailers.
Today you will still see me, now a mom of two, walking around the West Village, shopping and finding inspiration in the creative community that is all around me.
Photos taken by Julia Elizabeth