The dream of a trip to Europe sparked the beginning of Ellen Jarecki and Barry Percy's company - House Mouse Designs.
In order to fund the trip, Percy printed up some cards of Jarecki's drawings of her pet mouse Tiny, and set about selling them at a craft fair.
The early success of the cards drove the pair to set up a greeting card company in 1980 and about six years later, they made it to Europe.
Within a couple of years, House Mouse Designs went from four black and white designs to a full line of cards, featuring the mice in Jarecki's watercolours. Around 1992, the mice expanded into a family of five characters - Amanda, Muzzy, Monica, Mudpie and Maxwell, each with distinct personalities, allowing the artist to create a story within each of the pictures.
The company is continuing to grow, as Nicole Percy, director of licensing, explains: "In the past five years or so, Ellen has expanded her horizons by introducing a line of rabbits and a line of bears. The Happyhoppers and Gruffies lines have been well received."
With such an array of artwork, a licensing programme seems obvious for the company and in 2003, they started to focus on this area.
Percy continues: "Though it's been a learning process, we have really enjoyed the day-to-day of licensing, so much so, that we licensed our mail order/greeting card and paper product business to someone else, freeing us up to focus on licensing shows and expanding that side of our business."
The firm's fist significant licence was with Stampa Rosa for wood-mounted rubber stamps.
At BLE, House Mouse Designs will have its complete gallery of illustrations featuring the House-Mouse Designs, HappyHoppers and Gruffies images. There will also be licensed product and mock ups of possible new products on show.
House Mouse Designs is hoping to expand into a range of new categories at the show. Percy explains: "In the UK and Europe, we would love to see our images gracing the pages of wall calendars, address books, photo albums and all sorts of goodies found in the social expressions market, especially greeting cards.
"Also, we think our endearing characters are perfect for decorating all sorts of child friendly products, such as educational toys, puzzles, colouring books, classroom decor and supplies, plush bedding, wall clings and even night lights."
The firm is hoping to build new contacts in the territories and forge new relationships to move towards these categories with its properties at the show.