Maggy Harris began Ignition Licensing with the Happy House brand in 2006. Despite success in a range of territories, the Australian design brand did not tick the boxes with UK licensees.
A rocky start wasn’t enough to put Harris off though, and over the last two years, she has built up a portfolio of brands, which are all showing positive signs of growth.
Harris comments: “I approach each day with cautious optimism. As a small company it is easy to be overlooked in this business but if you have the right approach and brands which can provide creative product solutions for companies, there are many out there looking for lovely licensing ideas outside of the commercial kids arena.”
Harris set up Ignition after leaving her role at Hallmark Cards and together with Andrew O’Neill, group MD, the duo has over 40 years experience in marketing, design, sales and licensing. Ignition is the IP management arm of DNC UK and provides a specialist brand management and boutique licensing agency service.
To date, the firm has secured deals across the majority of categories including gifts, ceramics, stationery, greetings cards, apparel, mobile messaging, publishing and food and drink.
And it seems there are more deals in the pipeline. Harris comments: “Stemming from Brand Licensing 08, we are in discussion with licensees across all our properties including direct mail, publishing, jigsaws, stationery, toy distribution, gaming accessories, gifts, homewares and accessories.”
Such a wide range of licences leads the firm to believe it will continue to grow over 2009. When asked about the company’s plans for the next year, Harris explains: “More of the same – hard work, steady growth (fingers crossed), new brands coming on board and one more pair of hands would be my perfect new year’s present.”
To date, Juicy Lucy is the firm’s most successful property to date with ten licensees including Jarrold Calendars for calendars and diaries; Portmeirion Potteries for ceramic mugs, gifts, kitchen textiles and melamineware; Ravette Books for gift books; Zeon for ladies fashion, stationery and gift accessories and Papillon (for Benelux only) for diaries, notebooks and envelopes.
The brand also has sub-agents in Australia (Wild Pumpkin) and more recently Bradford for North America and Asiana in Korea.
Deals like this can be difficult to broker with an unknown brand, or one that doesn’t have the familiarity of an entertainment property.
Harris explains: “It is hard work, but hugely rewarding and I think we are respected for bringing a different perspective to the business on behalf of our licensors and licensees alike.”
But it must be difficult not to wish, at least every now and then, that you could land a property that has instant recognition and leaves you with prospective licensees banging down your doors. Harris agrees:
“I would love a really hot property (wouldn’t we all) because having something which everyone wants is every licensing exec’s dream. I am ever hopeful of discovering the ‘next big thing.’ I’d also love to work on the London 2012 licensing activity – a once in a lifetime chance.”