Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Licensing, But Didn’t Know Who to Ask





LaunchHER Says:  Jenny Ford, creator of Monkey Toes Shoes and LaunchHER League member, shares with us today her experience in licensing her adorable original designs. Read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about licensing, from an entrepreneur’s perspective.

Jenny Says:  You ever talk about a subject that interests you only to have the person you’re talking to stare at you blankly? Ya, I get that a lot.  Especially on the topic of licensing.  Licensed products are something everyone has encountered, you probably own several, yet the average consumer has no idea what is a licensed product.  

Monkey Toes have been licensed.  Another company manufacturers the products for me, but since I own Intellectual Property (IP), meaning the Trademark (TM), Registered Trademark (R), and Copyright (c) , I am able to enter into a “Licensing Agreement” with another company (the Licensee).  NO, I did not sell my company.  I simply authorized, as a Licensor, another company to produce products (my example is shoes) using my Registered TM (Monkey Toes) and Copyrights (the designs on my shoes).  I still have 100% control over my company, I just now have someone creating product for me, instead of me manufacturing (hand painting) product myself. Does that make sense?  

What does the Licensee handle?  They handle the manufacturing and distribution of your products.  Hopefully they already have established manufacturers and sales channels in which your products will slide right into.  

There are Pro’s & Con’s to licensing:  

1 – You don’t make all the profit, you are paid in a percentage of sales, called royalties, BUT you don’t have to fork over the money up front to produce all the product either.  Royalties vary depending on the industry, how long you’ve been in business, past sales, etc.  Everything about a licensing agreement is negotiable.

2 – You have say in everything that your name and designs are on.  You have to be a little accommodating and compromise frequently because this is a working relationship.  Both parties are out to make money, keep that in mind.  As long as you have a similar vision, you must trust the licensee to pull it off.  

3 – Have a savings of $$ built up because you may not be paid right away.  Royalties are typically paid quarterly, it’s always good to have some money in the bank or inventory to sell while you wait for everything to launch.  Checks in the beginning can be small and seasonal depending on buying seasons for your industry.  

4 – It can be a long process – from initial contact with the licensee to launch was about 18 months, for me, which is probably slower than average – give or take a few months (my memory is foggy).  

5 – This can allow you to branch off into other categories or improve your product beyond your wildest dreams. Look at the before and after up there.  The new quality, the packaging, it’s all amazing!  And don’t think I could have done that without a mass influx of $$ resources.  

6 – The connections your licensee has could skyrocket your sales and get you into larger stores.  BUT – see #7.

7 – The licensee could make or break your brand.  Unfortunately, this can happen.  Sales slump and they can drop you OR you can drop them.  Write your contract carefully to protect yourself should this happen.  And always be thinking about other ways to license your brand so you can have multiple streams of income. Contract review and drafting services are available through LaunchHER. Contact hello@launchher.com for more information.

There are probably many more pros/cons, but these are the first off the top of my head.

How did I get my company into licensing?  Funny you should ask…  I had the idea of Licensing in my goal book years ago, not knowing much about it, but thinking it would be a good avenue for my company – since I do own a lot of IP.  A few years ago, I had sent out an email blast to my retailers announcing something (who knows what at this point), and received an email from a Licensing Agent.  Someone who is very well known in the industry (I actually did check many references) – who wondered if I would be interested in being a licensee (the one who purchases a license).  I said no, but that I would be interested in learning more and working to get my artwork and name licensed.  And there you go.  Lesson to write down your goals, you never know how it will happen.

Almost everything around you is licensed.  My favorite example is Disney.  Disney is in the business of characters and theme parks, right?  Do you think they manufacture cute little cup and plate sets too?  No, they license another company to do that for them.  I’m guessing you/your hubby/son has a baseball hat laying around with your local baseball team’s logo on it?  Look at the tags, it’s a licensed product – I know the Colorado Rockies team has better things to do than embroider my son’s hat.  They’re farming it out to someone who knows the hat/embroidery industry and has connections to move mass amounts of products.  

You might be Licensor if:  You own the Trademark and Copyrights to products you own.  This could also work for a Patent, but I don’t have experience there.  You have a product that can be mass manufactured.  Like Monkey Toes or Lolita Designs with her art on glassware and tons of other products – 

You might be a Licensee if:  You’d be interested in putting a license on your existing product, like collegiate logos/mascots, Disney characters, video game characters.   A great example of this is Swaddle Designs and their Angry Bird Collection, as seen here:

Any questions?  Type them up below.   If you have in-depth questions, I do some consulting in this area, and in small business too, and would be happy to set up a time to speak to you over the phone through LaunchHer.   

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: Easy Made Invitations

Freshly Launched :: Easy Made Invitations

Launched :: Lindsay Garrett

LaunchHER Says :: If you’re looking for something extra special, Lindsay is your gal. She will teach you to make your own invitations, or you can visit her Etsy shop.

In HER Words :: Years ago I discovered that I really enjoyed making invitations for the celebrations in my children’s lives.  Last year I began my website as a place where moms like myself could go to find creative ideas for making their own invitations.  I write tutorials for all the invites on my site in hopes that other women will gain a spark of creativity and make their own handmade invitations for all the special occasions in their lives.

For those busy moms who are short on time, I also opened my Etsy shop and take custom orders for all my invitation designs.

Shop Easy Made Invitations

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: eye on the sparrow designs

Freshly Launched :: eye on the sparrow designs on Etsy

Launched :: Abbie Chesney

LaunchHER Says :: Abbie turned her sadness into something lovely when she began making jewelry out of recycled bass and guitar strings.

In HER Words :: Grief is a beast.  There’s nothing worse.  In my journey to tame my grief I began eye on the sparrow designs after the death of my dear friend Carter Albrecht.  An amazingly talented musician lost his life in a tragic chain of events leaving Dallas without one of it’s finest musicians.  In a search to make sense of this loss, eye on the sparrow designs was born.  I help musicians reach their dreams one step at a time through the creation of jewelry designs made from recycled bass and guitar strings – in an effort to give back to the community!

Shop eye on the sparrow designs

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: Hattie Designs

Freshly Launched :: Hattie Designs on Etsy

Launched :: Kathy Terry

LaunchHER Says :: If you need a gift for a baby shower, or for your own baby, you won’t find cuter blankets, bibs and burp cloths than those made with love by Kathy Terry.

In HER Words ::  I am the proud owner/designer of Hattie Designs.  I love all types of crafts, but sewing is where I shine. Using the skills and talents I have perfected over the years, I now spend my time sewing beautiful and simple baby items. My favorite fabrics are flannel and super soft minky, so most of my baby blankets, bibs and burp cloths are made from those wonderful fabrics. I have a very special line of organic Sherpa/organic cotton baby blankets. You will not find a better-made blanket! Plus, for every organic blanket sold, I purchase a tree through www.carbonfund.org!

Shop Hattie Designs

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: jolio design

Freshly Launched :: jolio design on Etsy

Launched :: Jodi Broglio

LaunchHER Says :: Fun, fresh and colorful is the only way to describe the note cards, invitations and wrapping paper (and more) at jolio design!

In HER Words :: I love what I do and feel lucky that I get to design something every day! I’ve worked on lots of fun branding and packaging for Warner Bros, Disney, Mattel and new start-up businesses too – a true dream come true!

Before launching jolio design, I was a packaging designer at Mattel for Miss Fashion herself, Barbie!

jolio design studio creates a mix of fresh design with our signature style of lively graphics, vibrant colors and bold patterns. I’m thrilled to bring our design collections to a range of products including stationery, gifts, home decor and more!

I’m always inspired by my three young sons and incredibly supportive husband.

Shop jolio design

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: Little Wellies

Freshly Launched :: Little Wellies

Launched :: Christina Wells

LaunchHER Says :: Adorable. Comfortable. Handmade. That, in a nutshell, is Little Wellies cute clothes for playful girls.

In HER Words :: Little Wellies was created by the owner and designer, Christina. She lives in Southern California with her husband and 18-month-old daughter, Bridgett Lou.

Christina started Little Wellies back in 2009 as an outlet for her creative soul and love of sewing. Since than it has enabled her to “quit her day job” as a teacher, and provide an avenue of supplemental income for her family. She feels so blessed to stay at home with her daughter, and creating lovely things for the little ones!

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Freshly Launched Women in Business :: The HopeFULL Company

Freshly Launched :: The HopeFULL Company

Launched :: Jessica Welsch

LaunchHER Says :: These ladies have cooked up something really unique: healthy food with a purpose. BRAVO! Add to this some savvy marketing and a knock-out web site, and you have a recipe for success.

In HER Words :: The HopeFULL Company offers kits used to make healthy frozen whole food pops at home. The HopeFULL Gift Pack consists of a recipe book containing 20 unique and delicious whole food pop recipes, custom silicone mold, 100 birch wood sticks and a neoprene cooler tote. Perfect as a healthy snack or meal supplement during illness.

The BellyFULL Kit comes with recipes designed to get children eating more whole foods in a fun way – through a frozen pop! BellyFULLs are gluten free, and are ideal for finicky eaters, kids with sensory issues and little chefs in the making.

Shop The HopeFULL Company

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: MadiBella

Freshly Launched :: MadiBella

Launched :: Charity Helvie

LaunchHER Says :: Charity makes bright and colorful designer baby clothes for boys and girls that make us want to pinch some cheeks!

In HER Words :: MadiBella is an online boutique specializing in custom handmade children’s clothing. As the creator of MadiBella, I love fabric and putting different fabrics together to create something fun, cute, and unique for children to wear. Unbeknownst to me, I discovered three years ago that God had given me the ability to sew. He took me out of the corporate world of investment finance and brought me home to raise my children and reveal to me this hidden creativity. I’ve never looked back! Through The Artisan Group, I’ve had the opportunity to create and give clothing to the daughters of Bethenny Frankel, Giada De Laurentiis, and Trista Sutter from TV’s “The Bachelorette”.

Shop MadiBella

Freshly Launched Women in Business :: Jewels for Hope

Freshly Launched :: Jewels for Hope

Launched :: Sandy DAndrea

LaunchHER Says :: What a mission! Not only does Jewels For Hope donate a portion of their profits but they are starting their own fund, Hope for Caregivers.

In HER Words :: Hello! My name is Stevie. My mother Sandy and I own Jewels For Hope. We create handmade jewelry and donate a portion of the profits to 15 organizations and counting. My mother started this company after taking care of my grandmother for almost 10 years. Jewels For Hope has since become our passion, our love. We love to be able to donate to worthy causes and we’re so happy we get to sit and create day after day. Each item we make is made with love. We feel everyone can Look Great & Donate!

Shop Jewels for Hope

What’s on YOUR summer bucket list?

Summer can come and go in the blink of an eye.  We asked LaunchHER League Members to share what’s on their Summer Bucket Lists and we want to know what’s on yours too! LH summer bucket list

  • “Journal every night to caputre my thoughts from the day:  the kindness I experienced so I can express my gratefulness for it, the negative thoughts so I can process through them, and etc.  Read a non-business related book…just plain fluff.  I am totally planning on being inspired…we’ll see how it goes.  Take a bath (not a shower), well really having an at-home spa day once a week where I focus on me.”
  • “I’m planning on taking advantage of all the local events this Summer and really getting to know the city we’re stationed in. To go beyond the typical activities that we do on the weekend: Surfing Competition, Farmer Markets, Camping/Mountain Hiking, and Ocean Kayaking.”
-Kristen, Ahoy Graphics
  • “On my must-do list for the summer is to spend time with my husband and our new puppy, visit the local farmer’s market as frequently as possible, and enjoy all of the family celebrations in June and July – 9 birthdays and 6 anniversaries in a 6 week span!”
  • “spend every weekend at the beach with our 4 & 2 year old’s. enjoy the sand, beach, family time.”
-Aimee, Aimee & Co.
  • “The main thing I need to get done this summer is create my Fall line and schedule the photo shoot!”
-Charity, MadiBella
  • “Being a foodie, summer produce is like a good addiction.  I plan on cooking as many meals as possible featuring local tomatoes, corn, squash, peaches, you name it!  Yum!”
  • “Lots of swimming and frozen custard.”
  • “Lemonade stand with my kids, cones at my favorite ice cream shop, and fish tacos!”
-Tracy, LaunchHER
We want to hear from you!  What’s on your Summer Bucket List?