At a time when many consumer products companies are cutting back and making do, UK-based Holland Publishing is looking to grow its business through new licensing-focused imprint, Little Star Creations. ‘We figure it’s actually a pretty good time to be launching a new business,’ says MD Jonathan Holland. ‘We think now is the time to make a push forward and to perhaps be alone in doing that.’
Launched at London Book Fair in April, Little Star Creations focuses exclusively on manufacturing character-based licensed publishing products, gifts and small electronics (like kids headphones) for the two to nine demo. Little Star’s first license is design-driven Groovy Chick from Ireland-based plush company Bang on the Door and a line of headphones is scheduled to hit yet-to-be-named UK mass-market electronic and audio retailer shelves in September. Notably, the headphones are outfitted with kid-friendly features, like volume control that cannot be cranked up to loud, ear-damaging levels.
Parentco Holland is taking a careful approach to getting the imprint off the ground and is wary of taking on too many licenses at startup. Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig and Mr. Men have joined Groovy Chick so far. ‘We don’t want to just slap a brand on a product,’ says Holland. ‘We’re trying to create products that work specifically for the brand.’ He is scouting for about four more licenses for the headphone line and two or three for publishing products.
‘We are looking to do it in a measured way,’ he says. ‘We are not looking for flash-in-the-pan brands; we’re thinking more long-term in the two to nine demographic with a balance between girls and boys.’
In terms of distribution, Holland says deals are currently being hammered out with UK retailers and he is also in talks with potential partners in Australia, the Middle East and the US.
From a marketing standpoint, Little Star is touting its Forest Stewardship Council certification. The UK environmental seal of approval certifies that all products from Little Star Creations will be printed on forest-friendly paper. The eco-consciousness of the brand has so far impressed retailers and Holland expects it to be a foundation for promotions surrounding the new imprint. ‘If any category should be taking a lead in making eco-friendly product, it should be publishing,’ says Holland. ‘We are focused on that and keen on pushing that angle.’