Licensee: Global Design Concepts
Location: New York, New York
Company history: The company-a design house, manufacturer, importer and distributor-was founded in 1999 by accessory industry veterans Dan Sabbah (president and CEO) and Cory Waisner (executive VP).
Product range: While the core of the business is bags, GDC will create coordinating accessories based on licensor needs, as well as tailoring product to the needs of specific retailers.
Retail channels: The company’s unlicensed product offering can be found in all channels of retail distribution, and its first licensed offering will debut at mid, mass and specialty. Going forward, GDC will look to increase its presence in grocery and drug stores.
Licensing contact: Felice Stolzberg, licensing director
Property portfolio: The company first ventured into licensing in September 2000, with the announcement of a license for Nickelodeon animated extreme sports series Rocket Power. Initial products are slated to hit retail in time for back-to-school 2001. Retailers have yet to be announced.
The latest: As of press time, the company had just inked a second deal with Nickelodeon for preschool animated series Dora the Explorer.
Licensing philosophy: According to Stolzberg, the retailers are not interested in seeing a roster of 10 or more licenses-they only want the top one or two. Thus, GDC looks to take on a select group of licenses that are not in direct competition. ‘If we take on too many properties, they all suffer because there is not enough time or manpower to do justice to each one,’ says Stolzberg. ‘Signing on fewer properties enables us to show the retailer that we truly believe in the ones we have. I feel this gives us more credibility in the market.’
When considering a license, GDC takes a look at the support behind the brand and the product-friendliness of the characters. For broadcast properties, ratings are an important factor. According to Stolzberg, Rocket Power had an established broadcast presence, Nick’s reputation for supporting licensed properties on-air and off, and the relevance of the characters to kids. ‘Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam all have aspects of their personalities that kids either feel they have themselves or would like to,’ explains Stolzberg, ‘whether it is something related to extreme sports, their funky clothes or the cool computer/techie parts of the show.’
Entering into licensing has broadened awareness for GDC. Retailers and licensors previously unfamiliar with the company are now taking notice. ‘Not many licensors are comfortable dealing with a new company, but when someone else has taken the chance and there is a property available, they are more willing to think about you.’ Licensing has also offered GDC a way to promote its core business, since retailers interested in the license come into the showroom and get to see the company’s unlicensed offering.
With a new ladies division recently launched, GDC will be looking for some junior/tween licenses going forward, and will look to increase its portfolio of children’s character properties and brands.
Credit check: The fact that GDC is selective and measured in choosing licenses gives Gail Stern, Nickelodeon’s VP of licensing, a great deal of comfort. ‘That makes me, as a licensor, aware that they understand their business with me takes a lot of design time and think time, and that they recognize that they can’t do that with 20 or 30 properties.’
Nickelodeon chooses a manufacturing partner for three main reasons: aesthetic design capabilities, strategic adeptness, and ability to find business. Stern, who is feeling very ‘bullish’ about this fledgling company at the moment, found all three in GDC. ‘I think what makes them fabulous is what would appear to make them most risky, which is that they choose to look at the business in a fresh way,’ says Stern. ‘They find ways to come up with the right design based on what is appropriate from a fashion standpoint, and marry it to what is appropriate from a price standpoint; not everybody can do that.’ And versus other companies that often take a formulaic route in finding ways to achieve this, GDC, as a new company, is more aggressive-something Stern appreciates.
GDC’s Sabbah, who had worked in a licensee capacity with Stern in his days at East End Accessories, also attracted her to the company. ‘His desire to build his business at GDC is evidently linked to his desire to strategically manage my business, versus other companies that may want my license because I have a terrific property and they want to make a ton of money right away.’
GDC’s sales team sealed the deal for Stern. ‘They have great relationships with buyers, and they recognize how responsive they need to be to the retail environment, whether it’s coming up with separate lines for each retailer or coming up with a variety of pricepoints that meet the needs of different stores,’ says Stern.
The company blasted off from the get-go in its work on Nick’s Rocket Power license, granted last September, and Stern couldn’t be happier with the results thus far. ‘GDC’s concepts for Rocket Power were by far the strongest concepts across all categories I’m responsible for-apparel, accessories and home furnishings,’ says Stern. ‘They have not produced one Rocket Power item for us yet, but in light of how fabulous their concepting was and how aggressive their sell-in to retailers has been, we have granted them our Dora the Explorer license.’