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In 2016, Charlotte Reed won License This! with her motivational illustrations May The Thoughts Be With You. As entries are now open for 2019 (they close 29 August), we caught up with Charlotte for an update.

How did you hear about License This!?

A friend recommended that I visit Brand Licensing Europe because I was interested in licensing my artwork. When I went online to register, the License This! information caught my eye. Funnily enough, the closing date was that very day, so I had to rush to fill the form in while working on my stall in Portobello Market. After that, I didn’t really expect to be picked as a finalist.

How much did you know about licensing at the time?

I knew it existed and that brands could be merchandised. A friend who worked with the Mr Men books knew about licensing. When I went to BLE, I was simply planning to walk the floor and hopefully make a few new contacts. Then I discovered the Matchmaking Service, which meant I could set up meetings. So I met with a few freelance agents and that was fine – they went well - but I was clueless about the nitty gritty, like what percentages to ask for, so I decided to focus my energy on License This!

What happened after you won?

Given I wasn’t expecting to be shortlisted, I wascompletely shocked when I won. Clare Piggott from Larkshead Media was a judgeand asked me to get in touch with her, so I did and this time last year – abouteight months after winning – I signed with her.

What was the response when you were back at the show in2017 as an exhibitor?

It was amazing. I had my own stand, which was part ofthe winner’s prize package, and Clare had arranged lots of meeting withlicensees from gifting, stationery, apparel and so on.

And how did they go?

Brilliantly. We did a deal with Danilo for calendars andgreetings cards, both of which hit retail last year. And we entered into discussionswith an apparel licensee to produce adult leisurewear and nightwear.

So, what’s next?

I really love grown up illustrative brands like Pusheen,which has an incredible licensing programme. I can really see my brandfollowing a similar pathway with mugs, gifting, bed linen, wallpaper and thenmaybe even moving into the children’s space.

Is this your full-time job now?

It quite quickly became a full-time job. I run my stallon Portobello Market from Friday to Sunday, which is my main source of income,I do lots of private commissions and I’ve now got a column in the EveningStandard: they run a Monday Motivation illustration every week. It sounds busy,but I really do love what I do – I don’t feel the need to take lots of timeoff.

How are you planning to grow? 

I’m delegating more – I use freelancers to look after mybusiness admin and also my technical work. And I have a literary agent, so mysecond book deal is all signed and My Path to Happy came out in May 2019.

What would you say to other entrepreneurial brand ownerswho are unsure if they should enter the License This! competition?

Absolutely enter – it’s a great platform to meet so manynew contacts, get exposure to agents and other licensees, and also an amazingexperience.

You can enter BLE’s License This!at - it’s quick and free. Nominationsclose 29 August 2019. The show takes place 1-3 October 2019 at ExCeL London.Registration is now open at  

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