Over the Moon was set up five years ago by Karen and Andy Bendy. Over that period the company has evolved considerably, starting out making hand made wedding stationery, before moving into the wholesale market three years ago and more recently the licensing programme with Pip.
The business is still something of a cottage industry as Karen explains: “We work from our home in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire, where we juggle our business with the demands of five children and a menagerie of animals.”
Prior to starting the firm, Karen worked for 12 years in a design role for an advertising agency and also as a freelance artist and has also worked on some book illustration and textile design.
Andy was a senior manager in the wholesale produce industry. So, as Karen says: “Developing a wholesale greetings card business seemed like a perfect way to combine our talents and experience.”
Over the Moon is perhaps best known for Pip, the little black cat, which has propelled the company into the licensing industry.
Already established in the greetings card industry with a number of designs, the opportunity arose to produce something for a new range of age cards. Karen explains: “We needed something that would appeal to kids and adults alike and, given the UK’s passion for all things feline, decided on a cute little kitten, which eventually developed into Pip the cat. “Once I got Pip down on paper and started to play around with him, it quickly became obvious how incredibly versatile and funny he is.”
Pip only launched at the end of last year but he’s already been a huge hit. The cards are now stocked in over 500 UK outlets, including Fenwicks and all branches of John Lewis, and are also selling on the internet via the Thorntons website and Moonpig.com.
The property was launched on Moonpig in May and nearly 30,000 cards have sold since. The cards are also selling across Europe and in Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Such a successful property is prime for a licensing programme and the duo has already employed Kirsty Guthrie from KJG to represent the brand. So far Guthrie has put together a deal with Bluebird Brands for a range of Pip mugs, coasters, purses, wallets and umbrellas, which are set to hit shelves in spring/summer 2010.
Karen continues: “There’s now a real buzz surrounding Pip in the licensing world and Kirsty’s in talks with lots of other interested parties.”
Speaking of Pip’s success so far, Karen comments: “I think the key is that they [the cards] appeal to adults and children alike. Even designs that are aimed solely at children need to appeal to the adults buying them, so that's always something I consider. “Pip is cute enough to grab a child's imagination but not so childish as to be inappropriate for a 60th birthday card and he’s equally at home posing on a pirate ship, playing football, or sipping cocktails at the bar.”
The firm is now looking to expand the licensing programme and hopes to see the cat represented in categories across the board and throughout a number of different territories.
Karen has big plans for the small cat: “I also think that a dedicated Pip website would be great and ultimately I would love to see him starring in his own TV show.”
Pip as a brand has also sparked ideas for a number of other properties. The cat has friends of many other species. Karen continues: “We’ve got especially high hopes for his best mate ‘Pup’ and a range of cards based on him is set to launch at Top Drawer Spring in January. We are also developing plenty more animal brands, including a zebra, a frog and even a hermit crab.”