The TV series was originally called Deer Little Forest. Why have you chosen to re-brand it as Flora of the Forest?
The new title puts the star of the show – a seven-year-old powerhouse of a girl – smack in the centre of the limelight, exactly where Flora belongs. This animal loving, tree hugging, universe exploring girl is a natural leader and very good at kicking off the daily adventures with her friends that make life in the forest (and the show) very interesting.
Flora has also gone through a rebranding of her name (from Flo to a more international Flora), and her look with a suitably tomboyish outfit perfect for sliding out of the tree house every day.
Can you tell me more about the show’s new storyline?
It’s about an endlessly curious girl (a combination of Indi Birwin, Dr. Doolittle and Bjork) who lives with her research scientist Mum in a tree house in the forest. Each morning Flora shimmies out of the tree house to a daily adventure with her animal friends and animal-wannabe cousin Toby, always ready to lend a hand when some animal, mineral or vegetable problem arises.
The show has many of the same characters and beautiful designs that have always made the brand pop, with the exciting addition of a tree house and Flora’s awesome mum. Even though Flora’s mum isn’t a main character, she and her research lab are the main inspiration for Flora’s enthusiasm for the world around her.
How will Deer Little Forest and Flora of the Forest differ?
Both created by UK illustrator Jo Rose, DLF and Flora will become two distinct brands: Flora will be a pre-school brand developed from the eventual TV series, its characters, the magical tree house and the world of the forest, while DLF will be an exclusive art and design brand featuring Rose’s more esoteric and artistically led nature and wildlife inspired designs, including an expanded library of new animals that do not appear as main characters in Flora.
What is the licensing plan for Flora of the Forest?
The licensing for Flora will roll out with the TV platform, possibly in late 2017.
With its strong role models in the science and nature realms, the multi-faceted magical tree house, and the cast of inspiring and funny characters, Flora has lots of potential across many categories. In particular strong categories would be toys, activity books, apparel, back to school, and publishing.
As with DLF, we would like to work with strong local partners on a territory-by-territory basis, starting with the UK.
What will the Deer Little Forest property focus on now?
Before there was talk of a TV series, licensing agents had already come on board to represent DLF in 13 countries, from the US and Canada, to German speaking Europe, China and South East Asia.
All of this interest was entirely on the basis of the brand’s appealing and original design, so we will continue to license it on that established, solid basis.
What plans do you have for Deer Little Forest in the licensing space?
After seeing DLF appear on greeting cards, pre-school apps, magazines, digital books and t-shirts in the UK, we are very excited to have our first homeware products launching in Germany.
Our agent Burda Intermedia Merchandising brokered a deal with Olala for kids’ lampshades, with two other licenses currently in discussion. Our key goal is to expand this kind of lifestyle licensing and work with new partners both domestically and abroad.
You also recently appointed Karen Fowler as showrunner of Flora of the Forest. What do you think she will bring to the brand?
Having an experienced, talented and award-winning executive producer like Karen Fowler oversee the TV series brings several important assets to it. She won three Emmys and three Parents’ Choice Awards in 2010-2012 for The Electric Company, which itself won 10 Emmys and was nominated for 20; she has worked with Sesame Street, Nickelodeon and CBC, and is currently working on the noted Jim Henson produced series DOT.
Widely respected across the kids industry, Fowler is the perfect person to help Flora reach its full potential as a motivating and fun new show.
Anything else you’d like to add about this exciting time for the brand?
We are very proud of the role models and aspirational characters in this property. Not only are Flora and her mother terrific role models for girls, but all the characters have valuable personality traits that have lots to offer boys and girls. Barley Crumb is a very house proud, domesticated boy-badger; Rowan is a philosophical fox; Lockhart is an goofy deer, forever leaping before she looks; and cousin Toby – in his signature animal onesies forever trying to blend in with the real animals – is simply adorable. All of this adds up to a property that children will fall in love with – and their parents too.