Flossy and Jim: “The digital revolution is lifting barriers and letting in a lot of new ideas”

Living by the sea in Devon’s picturesque Brixham, it’s little wonder why Lynette and James Dare, otherwise known as Flossy and Jim, the artistic duo behind the popular design brand of the same name, are awash with creative energy.

It’s a deep portfolio of design-driven, illustrative IP that the pair has to its name, spanning not only the world of Flossy and Jim itself, but an anthropomorphic universe of Horace (the Hamster) & Co, both of which have been developed to help support young people today.

Together, their’s is a mission to help today’s youth feel positive, a statement not only issued thought their use of bright and bold on-trend designs and the innate humour of both Flossy and Jim, and Horace & Co, but also through the way in which Lynette and James embody the brands themselves. 

Together, they both regularly present workshops n schools, talk to pupils about their personal journeys, and encourage them to believe in themselves. It’s good news, then, that the message of Flossy and Jim is beginning to travel far and wide thanks to a licensing programme that is gathering momentum under the watch of Edutainment Licensing.

Licensing.biz has a chat with Lynette and James Dare about Flossy and Jim, Horace & Co, and the latest developments for the portfolio.

It’s been a busy past few months for you guys – what do you think has fuelled or help drive the success of the brand on an international scale? How has this set you up for 2020… what are your expectations for the year ahead?

Working with young people in schools has really helped as we have been able to identify upcoming trends, find out more about our target audience and to develop our style guide. We have been able to create designs that are relatable to young people and help them feel more positive. Working with our agent at Edutainment licensing has been crucial to develop strategies and to secure deals, and attending BLE has really helped us to launch our brand in the UK and internationally.

Our expectations for 2020 is to keep working with young people, keep creating and to build our brand awareness even further.

Can you tell us a bit about Flossy and Jim and what you guys are bringing to the licensing space? How did it all begin for you, and did you foresee the kind of international recognition you have been picking up?

When we began creating the ‘Flossy and Jim’ designs in 2013, we were working part time in schools to deliver workshops to build confidence and self-esteem, by doing this we were meeting with our target audience and learning about what matters to them which helped us really understand our audience.

It became clear that a lot of these children and young adults were suffering with mental health issues and it was then that we realised that we wanted to create designs that would help, and shift the balance of negative content on social media. We never imagined that the brand would grow internationally, it has been amazing.

You guys seem to be coming from a unique angle with the more design led Flossy and Jim, combined with your approach to the publishing space through Horace & Co. How did this approach come about?

How will you now build on the recent success – what developments in licensing will you be looking towards for the year ahead?

At Flossy and Jim we create bold and bright designs that are relatable and help young people feel good. Kids love the ‘on-trend’ art style and can engage with the brands look and humour. Flossy and Jim is design led so we are able to provide new illustrations quickly and efficiently in an ever-evolving trend driven world.

The Horace and Co books were a personal project for about ten years. My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and we found daily activities like going to the doctor or going to the shop incredibly difficult. We discovered that drawing little stories really helped to prepare him for the next activity of the day. I looked for social stories like this to buy but could not find any so I decided to create my own.

The Horace & Co. books have been created to help children to relate to every day scenarios and understand how the world around them works. They’ll find out that everyone has qualities that are different, but those unique traits make them who they are, and loved. The titles have now been published with Signature Gifts as personalised books so the child is placed as the centre of the story.

We are currently in discussions for a really exciting publishing project that we hope to be able to share in the coming months.

It’s great to see you guys tap into the AR/XR sector. What inspired this move? How important will new and emerging technology be for the licensing space in driving innovation?

We LOVE augmented reality and we are inspired by how far technology is developing. When we got the opportunity to bring Horace the Hamster and his friends to life, how could we say no? We are very excited to work more in the AR sector and bring more designs to life.

We recently joined the government coalition ‘Future.Now’ headed by the Lord Mayor of London and we pledged that we would do what we could to ensure no young person is left behind in the digital revolution. We feel that alongside our work in schools, AR is a fantastic way to inspire children into the world of technology while they are learning and having fun.

One of the biggest changes we have seen is the challenge of being able to work with the high street retailers – this has resulted in us partnering with online retailers which has been great.

What is the health of the design space at the moment? is enough being done to encourage creativity here in the UK,

The creative sector remains one of the UK’s leading industries and from our experience of working in schools, we feel the arts should become a greater priority in the national curriculum, especially in the midst of the digital revolution.

Aside from this, it has recently been discovered that young people are on the brink of the worst ever mental health crisis. The importance of children’s self-expression as a means to a healthy and happy mind, is an essential part of their education.

A common fear amongst young people we teach is that ‘robots will take away all of their future jobs’. We always say ‘they cannot take away your imagination and creativity!’

Do you think the licensing sector is encouraging enough for creativity?

The licensing sector for us has been very encouraging. We love watching our designs go from an idea, into a product and then to market…it’s addictive actually!

What role does creativity have to play in rejuvenating the UK’s retail landscape?

Retailers are going to have to get more creative and innovative in their ideas to capture their audience in a highly saturated market. It’s going to be interesting to see how the development of technology alongside the efforts to be more ethical and sustainable will drive creativity to a whole new level.

As illustrators watching the digital revolution unfold, we can see barriers being lifted and with that comes new ideas. It’s a very exciting time.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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