The team at Redasign Studio has a solid background in design, product development and licensing and is quietly building strong merchandising programs for its clients. Slow and steady wins the race, but in the case of this boutique agency, so does small and agile.
With the exponential expansion of the licensing industry over the past 10 years, not only has the sheer number of brands and intellectual properties grown at a rapid pace, but the number of agencies that can manage the licensing programs has increased, as well. A competitive edge, such as being small and nimble, counts as agencies compete with one another to represent properties.
“Our business model is to remain small and limit the number of properties we represent to allow us to be hands-on with all aspects of our business,” states Robert Reda, founder of Redasign Studio. “Our team has expanded with the addition of sales, marketing and creative personnel as the need has arisen, but remaining small is important to our success. This, combined with finding properties that we think will resonate with a specific consumer demographic, that can occupy their own niche at retail and that we are passionate about, contributes to our growing business.”
Founded by Robert Reda in 2004 as a design and creative studio servicing the licensing industry, Redasign Studio combines the expertise of Reda and licensing industry veteran, Kim Winkeleer, who joined the company in 2008, the year the company was signed as the licensing agent for the Garanimals.
Owned by Garan Inc., Garanimals apparel is sold only at Walmart. Through strategic licensing deals with multiple licensees, Redasign has expanded the brand into categories reaching beyond the core apparel line, including footwear, socks, pre-school toys, infant developmental toys, bath toys and infant bedding. Redasign works closely with its Garanimals licensees to develop the right brand message, product mix and visual presentation while protecting the brand’s integrity. Reda personally approves each and every product and reviews several hundred products a season.
Because Reda and Winkeleer both have a 20-year track record in the business, and have held a variety of different positions throughout their careers, they are able to look at licensing from both the licensee’s and licensor’s perspective, which gives them greater insight as they build merchandising programs.
“It’s not enough to simply sign on a property we like, negotiate license agreements, and sit back and expect the licensing program to succeed,” explains Winkeleer. “There are so many aspects involved in the process that need to work, starting with the vision for the property, including the product mix and the retail channel most suited for the program.”
One program that’s gaining momentum for Redasign is Squaredy Cats. A property targeting primarily tween girls, Squaredy Cats was developed by Monkey Doodle Dandy, a graphic design company from Brooklyn, N.Y. Each square cat expresses an empowering message for today’s youth, such as “not squared to be sweet.” Over the past year, the brand has established a strong cult following online. Just visit Youtube to watch Giggles, who’s “not squared to act silly,” performing a comedy show with the help of one young fan. Squaredy Cats plush can be found at retail in select Build-a-Bear Workshop stores as well as specialty and gift stores.
“For Squaredy Cats, the core product is the square shaped plush,” explains Winkeleer. “We licensed Kids Preferred to manufacture and distribute the uniquely shaped cats. They are one of the country’s leading plush manufacturers and truly understand what the property is all about. When the plush has a strong foothold at retail, we plan to branch into other categories.”
True to its strategy to represent properties that it is passionate about, Redasign has been appointed the North American licensing agent for kimmidoll. Redasign was intrigued by the brand’s positive messaging and beauty and by the fact that its Australian-based creator, The Aird Group, developed a family of brands, including kimmidoll collection, kimmidoll junior and kimmidoll love. Each brand targets a different age group and encourages social interaction, expression and collectability.
Inspired by the centuries-old Japanese tradition of exchanging Kokeshi dolls – handcrafted dolls given as gifts to signify wishes of good fortune – The Aird Group translated this ancient custom into a modern aesthetic with more than 100 resin doll characters representing “life’s true values.”
Millions of dolls have been sold throughout Europe, Australia and Asia, but the brand is just getting started in North America. Through a deal with Enesco, kimmidoll collection resin dolls will be introduced at retail through specialty and gift stores in North America in November. Ancillary merchandise such as jewelry will follow in January.
For its youthful counterpart, kimmidoll junior, Kids Preferred is leading the way. A line of six kimmidoll junior dolls and related merchandise was introduced at specialty stores in August. According to Redasign, initial sell through results are strong and many stores have already placed re-orders.
kimmidoll junior books will be released in June 2013 and a game app will launch in December for all smartphone platforms, which will create additional awareness for the property.
“The Aird Group creates 12 new dolls every year, with style guides to match,” Reda says. “kimmidoll fans will consistently have more dolls to choose from year after year. The creative we receive every six months is beautifully executed and always on trend. Licensees have a tremendous amount of assets to work with, and we’ll be able to offer certain retailers exclusive dolls and designs.”
Another recent client for Redesign is Little Me, a well-known and trusted infant and toddler apparel brand available at high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale’s. Its 40-year history coupled with its beautiful prints and fabrics and stellar reputation, makes the brand ideal for the development of an array of licensed merchandise. Redasign has licensed categories for the brand that include Crown Crafts for baby bedding, blankets and soft bath accessories; Prestige Toy for infant plush toys; and Shalom International for infant shoes, socks and accessories.
Redasign is diversifying its portfolio with a new partner – the famed nightclub Copacabana. It is working with the club’s owner and sifting through archives to develop a strong presentation for the brand, which will be geared toward adults from all backgrounds but appeal especially to the Latino demographic.
“The Latino community is growing and many retailers are looking for brands that resonate with that particular demographic,” Winkeleer explains. “That’s one reason the Copacabana brand is so interesting. With the right mix of merchandise, the brand should perform well, not just within this demographic but also as a lifestyle brand with broad appeal.”
Redasign will translate the iconic brand into traditional products such as apparel, but will also develop lines in categories such as liquor, slot machines, fragrance and women’s shoes and accessories. “This will really bring us into categories that are a bit different than what’s typical for us, so we are very excited about the Copacabana brand,” Reda says.
In addition to representing outside properties, Redasign is also creating a new brand of pet products, including pet toys, accessories, beds and food. Reda, who previously created and licensed the popular girls’ brand She’s Charmed and Dangerous, explains, “We’ve noticed a lot of interest in the pet accessory business with celebrities creating pet brands for select retailers and see this as an opportunity to build our own pet brand that we can offer as a retail exclusive.
“The licensing business is crazy,” Reda continues. “You can be in it a long time without ever having a major hit. We’re lucky. Not only have we been able to work with some exciting properties, but we’ve formed strong partnerships with a great group of licensees.”
Both Reda and Winkeleer agree that the best formula for them is to have a vision, work hard and surround themselves with the right team of people and it seems to be working.