MERCHANT FACTORS CORPWith a small but mighty team of employees, Merchant Factors provides its clients with a personalized approach to success. By Bianca Herron

Merchant Factors understands the needs of growing businesses. For over 30 years the company has been serving small to mid size businesses with its nimbleness and innovative financing tools. Though the New York City-based company’s primary focus has been providing credit coverage and financial resources to its clients since 1985, three years ago the company launched a licensing division to further help its clients, and non-factored clients alike, achieve greater growth and success.

“As a company that finances wholesale companies, many of our clients were asking our managers for licensing help,” Vice President of Licensing Vicki Engel explains. “Possessing the strong design, manufacturing and sales capabilities in their respective categories, many of our clients had already developed successful proprietary labels and private label programs with Merchant’s support. But in recent years, as we’ve seen the demand for highly recognized brands increase at all levels of distribution, we realized our clients were looking to licensing as a way to drive growth. We’re uniquely positioned to help them achieve that.” 

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICWith a new leadership team, National Geographic Partners aims to grow its company further and expand its licensing business. By Bianca Herron

For nearly 130 years, the nonprofit National Geographic Society, a scientific and educational organization, has explored the earth, helped protect wildlife and habitats, and provided K-12 students with informational books and magazines to help ensure they are geographically literate.

Forty years ago, Fox acquired the licensing to start the National Geographic channel, which now reaches 438 million households in 172 countries and 43 languages. In recent years Fox also acquired National Geographic’s media assets, including its magazines, digital and social media platforms, books, National Geographic Studios and catalog licensing.

Additionally, two years ago, the Society and Fox partnered to create National Geographic Partners (NGP), which is the commercial arm of the Society and extends its mission with a portion of its proceeds used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education. “That money goes into the endowment of the Society,” explains Rosa Zeegers, executive vice president of consumer products and experiences. “The Society is now insured for another 129 years of continuing their great work. That not only means that we are commercial in our endeavors and objectives, but we are also a brand that gives back.”

Maui and SonsMaui and Sons uses licensing to bring California beach culture to the entire world. By Tim O’Connor

If it hadn’t been for a batch of burnt cookies, the world might have missed out on one of the foremost surfing culture brands. Jeff Yokoyama was a young surfer in 1980 when he and two friends decided to turn a family recipe into a cookie company in Newport Beach, Calif. The business failed, but the trio loved the black cookie with colorful chips logo so much that they incorporated it into their next venture: an apparel company aimed at beach sportswear called Maui and Sons.

Maui and Sons started out by slapping oversized cookie logo patches onto the backs of vintage shorts. To promote the new brand, Yokoyama gave the shorts out to beach volleyball players. It soon became a hit along Newport Beach and Maui and Sons quickly added T-shirts and accessories.

PVM GroupPerfetti van Melle Group dishes out unusual new licensed products for its Chupa Chups, Airheads and Mentos brands. By Kat Zeman

Not many companies can claim to have worked with Salvador Dalí, the Spanish surrealist. But Perfetti van Melle (PVM) Group, an Italian global manufacturer of candy and gum, can claim that honor. Dalí designed the original logo for one of the company’s brands, Chupa Chups, in the ’60s. This year, Dali’s work is being revived.

PVM Group has paired up with The Rodnik Band, a London-based art fashion label famous for its pop style and ironic take on fashion, to design a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Dali’s work for new licensing collaborations for Chupa Chups, a popular Spanish brand of lollipop and other confectionery.

In addition to its core business, PVM Group develops licensing collaborations with a variety of popular brands including Mentos and Airheads. Its collaborations with major companies fall into the lifestyle sectors and select food and beverage categories.

Homefront GirlHomefront Girl pays tribute to ‘the other half of the brave.’ By Kat Zeman

Gaby Juergens knows what it feels like to be waiting at the home front. Her father and husband both served in the U.S. Army at times of war. Though she never served in the military, Juergens found herself in a close-knit community with a common bond: they were “the other half of the brave.”

“The military community is very big on supporting each other,” Juergens says. “There is a closeness between people that have lived this lifestyle. But it’s not an easy life.” Loved ones are often away for extended amounts of time. Loneliness is a frequent companion. Fear for a family member’s safety is always nagging. There are certain experiences that only people closely connected to service men and women understand.

“We are the original army of one,” she says. Joining other military spouses, Juergens would often volunteer for patriotic causes and spend a lot of time writing thank-you notes. That’s when she started experimenting with inspirational note cards designed for people in similar situations.

Doug The PugAfter conquering social media, Doug The Pug is branching out with licensing partnerships. By Alan Dorich

You don’t get more than a billion YouTube views and over 9 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter without having something special. And that’s exactly what Doug the Pug has, as the small canine has charmed his way into the hearts of people worldwide.

Doug’s owner, Leslie Mosier, saw this when she adopted him as an eight-week-old puppy. “His personality was larger than life,” she recalls. “I would have a lot of fun taking photos of him wearing cute little outfits.”

But Mosier did not see the potential to form a business around Doug until she got her own Instagram account. “Very quickly, I discovered the people following me on my Instagram only wanted to see Doug,” she recalls, noting that she created a separate one for her pet.

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