COMFORTS OF HOME
Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light," unveiled a line of tapestry throws, pillows, and wall hangings through a recent partnership with Manual Woodworkers & Weavers. The collection includes "art to wear" tapestry apparel, which spotlights images from several Kinkade favorites such as "Autumn Lane," "Church of the Wayfarer," "A Peaceful Retreat," "Streams of Living Water," "Cobblestone Bridge," and "The Garden of Prayer," and Available now at mid-specialty stores, suggested retails range from $20 to $45. Manual Woodworkers & Weavers, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, also will target the inspirational market with special versions of Kinkade images supported by verses from the Bible.
"We are eager to develop key licensing relationships in home furnishings, garden and outdoor, and leisure apparel," says Linda Mariano, vice president of licensing and marketing, Thomas Kinkade. "In 2007, we also expect to expand our international licensing significantly."
Artist Susan Mariconda first made her mark when she licensed her contemporary fruit and floral themes for kitchen and stationery products. A skilled ceramic artist, Mariconda perfected her craft while she served a two-year apprenticeship in the UK with production potter Alan Hughes. Known for the subtle, feminine designs that embellish her clay pots, Mariconda's work reflects her keen sense of color, craftsmanship, and eye for detail. She is reshaping her licensing strategy while she shifts gears to focus on licensing the paisley prints, stripes, harlequins, and florals found in her "Ashbee Pottery" ceramic line. Mariconda says she is looking for all categories for licensing, especially tabletop.
As a result of the success of Sandra Magsamen's infant apparel and accessories program, which arrived at 279 Macy's doors last summer, Macy's plans to more than double the number of stores carrying the collection by fall '07. Each garment in the original Messages from the Heart: Inspired Words to Grow By collection includes a label with an inspirational message from Magsamen and a separate message specifically intended for decorating the nursery.
The collection, which is dubbed "attire that inspires," includes onesies, coveralls, sweaters, dresses, tops, polo shirts, and jackets, as well as capri pants and cargos. Booties, hats, bibs, and blankets also are part of the mix. The baby collection is due in August; suggested retails will range from $15 to $46. "We are in the midst of plans for nursery décor and linens, wallcoverings, stationery, diaper bags, and over-the-counter fabric," says Magsamen.
Having survived the Russian Revolution and two World Wars, Katoufs—a collection of more than 600 fanciful characters—emerges from the past and now is available for licensing. Originally rendered in gouache in the early '20s by Princess Marie of Greece, the drawings are copyrighted and privately owned, and are being represented by Katoufs Unlimited. "Katoufs is a unique art property, rich with historical interest and ripe for licensing," says Ted Kole, managing partner of Katoufs Unlimited.
Inspired by an old Greek expression that translates to "making a face," Katoufs represents a small selection of Princess Marie's original drawings, which were part of a four-notebook collection of illustrations later incorporated into a children's book published in 1925 with verses written in collaboration with Princess Marie Troubetzkoy of Russian Stroganoff decent. The lively, expressive artwork presents an unusual, distinctive cast of characters that evoke the innocence and design simplicity of a bygone era.
Says Kole, "Katoufs is appropriate for gift and decorative categories, including publishing, stationery, collectibles, home décor, jewelry, apparel, animation, and more."
Artist and art licensor Paul Brent recently delivered a presentation on art licensing at New York City's Society of Illustrators (Dennis Dittrich and Ellen Appleby, society members and organizers of the event, are shown here with the artist). Brent, whose work as an artist and designer began in 1988, has partnered with more than 70 licensees, which feature his coastal- and tropical-themed artwork on a range of home, gift, and stationery products. Brent's designs have been sold through Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Kohl's, Target, and Horchow.
The board of directors of privately held Dick Idol Ventures (DIV), LLC, recently instituted a buyback of the company's stock from its minority shareholder and namesake, outdoorsman and wildlife artist Dick Idol. As a result, the company has been rebranded Regan Williams Licensing Group, LLC (RWG), and will operate as the strategic licensing arm of consumer public relations and marketing firm French/West/Vaughan (FWV), which is headquartered in Raleigh, NC.
RWG provides expertise in extending brands into new product categories and distribution channels to create comprehensive lifestyle programs. With more than 100 licensing partnerships, RWG-owned and managed brands account for more than $100 million in annual sales through distribution in 7,500-plus retail stores, catalogs, and the Internet.
"Business has grown so far beyond the Dick Idol product line that we felt the need to change the company name to better reflect our expanded lifestyle brand portfolio and exponential growth," says Steve Regan, president of RWG. "We look forward to leveraging the expertise and client rosters of our partner firms to identify, secure, and manage additional licensed properties that fulfill untapped lifestyle niches."
Some of the existing RWG-owned or managed brands include the Dick Idol home collection and the World Vineyards furniture line—both distributed by Klaussner; a tropical-inspired home products line that sells under the Cabana Joe's label; Wild Wings and its portfolio of outdoor-oriented artists; and a soon-to-be-introduced home line from Trading Spaces star Genevieve Gorder.