Licensing.biz Women of the Year: Part three revealed

Produced in association with Kilogrammedia, the list recognises women from all areas of the business, as nominated by our readers.
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This week, Licensing.biz is unveiling our list of the top 100 women in the UK licensing industry.

Produced in association with Kilogrammedia, the list recognises women from all areas of the business, as nominated by our readers.

The list highlights the work of women working at licensor and licensee level, as well as in retail, media, marketing, PR and other roles which bring them into contact with the licensing industry.

We are unveiling 20 women in alphabetical order each day this week.

Part three of the list can be found below:

Vicky Hill,
Licensing Manager, Bulldog Licensing

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Hill first joined Bulldog as licensing executive in 2013 and made an immediate impact on the agency’s global licensing operation, with particular success in driving Bulldog brands forward in the publishing sector. She was promoted to licensing manager at the end of last year and won the Licensing.biz Rising Star accolade at the People Awards 2015, which comes as recognition of her ability to spot commercial opportunities and develop brands along a clear strategic path.

Pauline Howarth,
Licensing & Design Director, Bon Bon Buddies

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Howarth’s licensing career began with Bon Bon Buddies in 1993, and over 22 years, together with the licensing team, she has grown the portfolio to include some of the world’s leading entertainment and toy brands across EMEA and Asia. Bon Bon Buddies success has bought it several awards – two Licensing Awards, two Sunday Times Fast Track accolades and the prestigious Queens Award. Howarth’s expertise has previously earned her licence consultant roles to key UK retailers and is a combination of intuition, understanding kids and trends, research and the confidence to seize opportunities.


Helen Howells,
Joint MD, Hoho Entertainment

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Howells co-founded Hoho Entertainment in December 2010 with former Target colleague, Oliver Ellis. The children’s production and rights management company produced Cloudbabies for CBeebies and has successfully sold the series around the world, with licensing programmes currently in place in the UK, Germany and Australia. Howells began her career with S4C International, the commercial arm of the Welsh 4th broadcast channel, where she worked on shows including Fireman Sam and SuperTed, before joining 4Kids Entertainment as director of international licensing. In 2004, she moved to Target Entertainment to set up the firm’s licensing and merchandising division following the acquisition of Fifi and the Flowertots. Numerous key deals followed and she was also responsible for Target’s appointment by Sony PlayStation as exclusive licensing agent for its game IPs and core brand in EMEA territories.


Melanie Humberstone-Garley,
Founder, MHG Licensing

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Humberstone-Garley unveiled her new agency – MHG Licensing – earlier this year, securing a deal with Rachel Ellen Designs to build the brand in the UK. She has over 20 years experience across all product categories and during the course of her career has worked with brands such as Thunderbirds, Cut the Rope, Matt Hatter, Mr Men, Paddington Bear, Beatrix Potter, The Octonauts, Jacqueline Wilson, Forever Friends and Bananas in Pyjamas. She has worked in senior commercial roles at firms including ITV Studios, Chorion, The Copyright Group and Entertainment Rights.

Marianne James,
VP UK & Ireland and European Retail Sales & Marketing, Nickelodeon

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James is VP consumer products UK & Ireland and European retail sales and marketing for Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). In her role, she is responsible for planning, developing and implementing consumer products licensing, product and retail strategy, as well as achieving the department’s revenue targets. Prior to joining VIMN, James held positions at Unilever and Elco UK.

Esther Jolley,
General Manager, Zeon

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Jolley took on the newly created role of general manager at licensed watch and clock specialist Zeon in July 2014. Prior to this, she was AVP of brand development at Beanstalk. Jolley has spent a large part of her career in the licensing industry, managing both European and global brand extension programmes for clients including Procter and Gamble, Jaguar, Land Rover and Harley-Davidson. She was also part of the leadership team in Beanstalk’s London office. At Zeon, she is working with the team to build on its already strong portfolio of brands, including Barbour, Vivienne Westwood and Braun, as well as its stable of character licences.

Julie Jones,
Joint MD, Redan Publishing

Jones has been with Redan for 11 years and accepted the position of joint managing director, along with Jenny O’Connor, in 2014. She is responsible for seeking out and negotiating all of Redan Publishing’s many licences (the firm currently has over 30 licences in its magazine publishing portfolio). Her nominator said: “She is loyal, professional and unstoppable and we all love her at Redan. I know she has great respect and admiration amongst her peers in the licensing industry.”

Sarah Jones,
Head of Stadium & Online Merchandising, Chelsea FC

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Jones joined Chelsea FC in March 2007, and as the importance of licensing has grown for the club, so has her role. Specialising in the sports sector, prior to Chelsea, Jones spent a year as a buyer at Kitbag.com and four years as merchandising manager at Manchester United Merchandising.

Julie Kekwick,
Senior Licensing Manager, BBC Worldwide

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Described as “definitely the most hard working person I know” by one of her nominators, Kekwick has worked in a number of roles at the BBC for over 20 years – including positions in the marketing, retail and sales teams. She is not only motivated to achieve the best deal financially, but she is also very open and honest with her licensees. She will always be the first on her Blackberry in the morning and the last person to leave the office in the evening, working tirelessly to build the success of many of BBC’s favourite properties. There have been a number of restructures taking place at the BBC over the years, and Kekwick has been something of an unsung hero in holding things together when people have left and before new directors have come on board.

Aysha Kidwai,
Commercial Director FMCG Retail & Licensing UK & Ireland, The Walt Disney Company

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Popular industry figure Kidwai has held a number of high profile roles throughout her licensing career. These include commercial director at Watermelon, director of merchandising and licensing at ITV (where she worked on properties such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Dancing on Ice) and MD of her own consultancy, Indigo Lens, where she worked closely with the Tesco team on a number of projects. Fun, knowledgeable, professional and feisty.

Lynn Kingdon,
Designer - Licensing, Laura Ashley

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Kingdon leads all licensed product development and ensures it reflects design trends and Laura Ashley house style. She provides core guidance which includes trend research, design selection, mood and colour boards. She has a wealth of experience, which enables her to work so effectively with each of the firm’s licensees. Product categories include bathroom, garden, kitchen, linens (bed, bath and nursery), wallpaper and paint, toiletries, stationery, tiles, cookware, carpets and technology accessories.

Vicky Kostura,
Founder, Rights Management International

“Vicky single handedly brought music back into the licensing scene after six years of absence,” stated her nominator. Kostura has been in the industry for 28 years, with her story kicking off with Iron Maiden and the development of one of the best licensed rock properties in the world, generating an increase of 80 per cent in both sales and property presence in the market worldwide. Various other roles in music licensing followed, with Kostura working with names including Bon Jovi, Motorhead and The Spice Girls. She founded RMI in 2009 – after a stint at Beanstalk working on brands including Land Rover, Paris Hilton and Andy Warhol Foundation – spearheading the JLS campaign, which won the Best Celebrity Licensed Property award in 2011. She also started the licensing programme for One Direction, and is now concentrating on driving RMI forward with a host of celebrity clients, such as Samantha and Billie Faiers from The Only Way Is Essex.

Gabbi Langdorf,
Licensing, Global Merchandising Services

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Langdorf is the lady responsible for one of the biggest music licensing campaigns ever, One Direction. The group redefined the term ‘boy band’ and became the world’s first billion dollar merchandising success story – they appeared in the top three of the Brands section in the Licensing.biz Power List for the last two years running. Also in the GMS portfolio and on Langdorf’s radar are the likes of Beyoncé, Dolly Parton, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Alice Cooper.

Poppy Lawton,
Licensing Manager, Laura Ashley

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Lawton joined Laura Ashley at the beginning of 2014, having over nine years’ previous experience within the licensing industry. By driving new business partnerships, she works to extend the reach of the Laura Ashley brand into new sectors in the UK and Europe. Responsible for the overall strategy for each licensing partner, Lawton oversees the product development within the licensing department, ensuring all licensing partners maintain the values and quality for which the brand is renowned.

Ruth Leonard,
Director of Marketing, Carte Blanche Greetings

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Leonard is a passionate advocate of the licensing industry and is always a pleasure to deal with. She is professional and experienced, but extremely approachable. It is rare you will see her without a smile on her face (even on the 07.01 am train to Olympia during Brand Licensing Europe). Leonard also endures a mammoth 220-mile round commute each day, which proves just how dedicated she is to her role at Carte Blanche.

Gemma Lowe,
Senior Editor, Centum Books

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Lowe joined Centum just over a year ago, following stints at Random House and Paragon, working predominantly in the licensing departments of each. She quickly took up the position of senior editor and is responsible for delivering both Minions and Jurassic World ranges, working closely with Universal and Centum’s design teams. Lowe is key in developing new IP relating to Sainsbury’s own brand children’s books and she has recently been project managing McDonald’s new licensed e-book range in over 37 different countries. Lowe’s knowledge of licensing and in particular children’s books has been a great asset in the development of Centum in the last 12 months.

Fiona MacMillan,
Publishing Director, Centum Books

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MacMillan joined Centum in June 2014 followed a well established career in children’s publishing with the likes of DK and Random House, where she ran the licensing and children’s book ranges for the UK. Over the years, she has been responsible for delivering children’s book range for numerous licences including Lucas Films, Disney and Warner Bros. At Centum, she has worked with the team on the Minions and Jurassic World lines, as well as the McDonald’s new e-book line. The firm will also soon be revealing a number of new licences on a domestic and international level, which MacMillan has been responsible for signing.

Helena Mansell-Stopher,
Retail Licensing Director, Bulldog Licensing

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Mansell-Stopher joined Bulldog in April 2015. Her reputation very much precedes her, having held senior positions at HIT, 4Kids, Marvel and most recently as UK consumer products territory lead at Mattel. During her career, she has helped boost major brands including Thomas & Friends, Barbie, Monster High, Spider-man, Hot Wheels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nintendo, Pokémon and many more. Her move to Bulldog sees her working with a strong and diverse portfolio of properties such as Shopkins, Garfield, a stable of hit gaming brands from Electronic Arts and Iconic Images – the archive for 60s and 70s pop culture, Hollywood glamour and rock n roll.

Saphia Maxamed,
New Business Manager, Rights Management International

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Maxamed first discovered the world of licensing in 2009 when she joined Topps as maternity cover for the brand manager of entertainment. While there she worked on a number of high profile brands from Disney to Dr Who. She joined LIMA in 2010 and began working for Kelvyn Gardner to increase the profile of LIMA in the UK & Europe. Now working as new business manager at RMI, Maxamed’s warmth, integrity, passion for the brands and business nose brings new opportunities for clients and licensees alike. She connects companies together, looks at opportunities in a different light and really makes a difference to our licensing world. Her enjoyment of all things celebrity is palpable and her enthusiasm catching, while her integrity and professionalism is admired by all.

Julie McCleave,
Global Licensing Director, Unilever

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McCleave has been at Unilever since 1997, originally joining as customer business manager for Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. She became senior category manager in 2005, working in various categories across food and HPC, before becoming head of licensing in 2010. She took on her current role of global licensing director in April 2015.

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