Angie Spurgeon runs a business designing and illustrating greeting cards and gifts. She’s managed to successfully sell her designs to Waterstones and The National Trust through partnering with a company that takes on the sales and licensing. It was on maker marketplace, Folksy, that she was first discovered.
‘Back in 2010 I created my first range of illustration prints and greetings cards. Around that time my youngest daughter had just started nursery and even though I was freelancing on occasional marketing projects, I had a burning desire to use the extra working hours to make a go of launching my own range of illustration based designs. I was familiar with Folksy and felt it was the ideal place to give it a go and see if anyone would be interested. I opened a Folksy shop, website, blog and Facebook page within the space of a couple of months. By using a combination of those four it really helped get my business off the ground.’
After a few months of trading on Folksy, Angie received a message from a publishing company specialising in greetings. They had spotted a particular design and wanted to know if Angie was able to create a range of card designs in the same theme and style that they could license to their clients and take to trade fairs.
‘This was something I was very keen to do, as part of my plan at that time was to try and build collections of designs which would be ideal to license out and enable me to concentrate on the work I enjoy most – creating illustrations. After some lengthy chats with the publishers, I felt that producing 12 speculative designs for them to take to Autumn Fair International 2011 was a risk worth taking as I knew those designs would get a chance to be seen by the key buyers in the greetings card sector.’
The risk paid off as both Waterstones and The National Trust placed orders for Angie’s range at the fair and this artistic entrepreneur has been working closely with the same publishers, Art Eco Designs, ever since.
Rather than have an agent represent her, Angie decided to self-represent and negotiate her own terms with Art Eco designs. There are two main ways in which a licensing agreement works, explains Angie, as:
- a set up fee plus royalties of an agreed percentage on each sale or
- a flat fee for agreed usage terms
‘Whichever way the agreement is set up it needs to reflect a fair deal for both parties based on the agreed length of time of the license, the territories for distribution, the type of products the designs can be used on and the amount of exclusivity the Licensee is granted for the designs.’
It’s working for Angie and she plans to continue building the business in this way.
‘My long-term aim is to try and get designs licensed and produced at a higher volume as I know that’s where the main income for my work will come. It’s a balance between commissioned work and licensed work that keeps my business going. I believe it’s easier to sell a design for license if you can prove that it’s already popular and sells well – which is where a marketplace like Folksy comes into its own as it’s very transparent about what products are popular and which ones sell.’
When it comes to advice for creative businesses wanting to sell into retail, Angie suggests:
‘Produce good, original work and then get it out there to be seen. The most important thing is the quality of the product. Get that bit right and then selling to a large retailer becomes a whole lot easier because the product does all the talking and you’ll soon find partners to help do the selling for you, allowing you to concentrate on making more great products.’
Angie Spurgeon is founder of Artwork by Angie