LaurDIYThe Brand Liaison secures licensing deals with best-in-class partners. (Photo credit: Brandon Woelfel)

Renowned YouTube sensation Lauren Riihimaki, better known as LaurDIY, has announced a series of new licensees creating a broad range of DIY craft supplies, tools and kits as well as finished products featuring unique designs and inspirations from LaurDIY.

New licensees including Plaid Enterprises, Mattel, Cousin and C.R. Gibson, have developed licensed products to launch in stores Fall 2018, and will be supported by social media and other marketing, including in-store appearances. All of LaurDIY licensing has been managed by The Brand Liaison.

“My followers have been asking for LaurDIY merch for so long and I really wanted to find the right partners that would be able to produce unique products at a price point that my fans will embrace,” explained Lauren. “Now with these incredible licensing partners, we have an entire collection of crafting tools and supplies, craft kits, jewelry, school supplies, and so much more, that will give everyone a piece of the LaurDIY lifestyle, without spending a fortune. Even my dog, Moosie, will make an appearance in the line!”

Catering to over 10 million Gen-Z and young Millennial followers across all social media platforms, the LaurDIY brand is based on 3 core principles: Trends for Less, A Creative/Custom Life and Fun, Fun, Fun. Lauren has worked tirelessly with all of her new partners to ensure that all of the LaurDIY licensed products stay true to these philosophies.

Plaid Enterprises has designed an entire line of crafting tools including fabric paints, markers, and custom embellishments such as stencils, stickers, transfers, stamps, patches and trim set to launch at retail in Fall 2018.

Plaid Enterprises’ LaurDIY products will be used by Lauren on many of her upcoming video projects; Mattel’s Rose Art division will be creating a collection of DIY crafting kits including plush animals, desk accessories, frame and clip calendar sets, shadow boxes and even custom letter board kits; Cousin has created a wide range of jewelry kits that will allow users to create their own jewelry and hair products for any occasion in their life. The kits include gem stones, cording, crowns, stretch and other fun components all selected by Lauren; and C.R. Gibson is launching a full collection of stationery and back to school products including notebooks, planners, agendas pencil pouches and writing tools.

The line will incorporate fashion forward elements like holographic, velvet, foil and denim material and will offer some DIY flare through stickers and patches. Meanwhile, The Brand Liaison continues to build the LaurDIY licensing program across a variety of brand-right extensions.

UnknownGlobalShop will be held in Chicago March 27-29, 2018.


Registration is now open for the 2018 GlobalShop Tradeshow & Conference, the nation’s largest annual gathering for the retail design and shopper marketing community. Attendees can register here.

GlobalShop takes place March 27-29, 2018 in Chicago at the McCormick Place Convention Center. The GlobalShop 2018 show floor will be open March 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Show floor hours on Thursday will run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“This will be an exciting event, as GlobalShop is headed back to the city that started it all, Chicago,” said Doug Hope, vice president and GlobalShop founder, in a statement. “Our last year in Chicago was a huge success. All indications suggest that 2018 in Chicago will be even bigger. We strongly recommend attendees register early to take advantage of discounted registration and hotel rates.”

The 2018 show will bring a theme of Inspired Retail, designed to showcase the latest design trends and topics in the retail industry. The successful Experience Journey program will be making a return to the 2018 event alongside the new show floor area Design Speaks. Design Speaks is a content-driven, thought leadership hub designed to inspire retailers and brands.

WWD will return to present the GlobalShop keynote speaker, with Madden as the proud sponsor of the curated conference program.

Until Dec. 31, 2017, show floor registration is $30. From Jan. 1 through March 26, 2018, registration will increase to $50 and $70 for onsite registration. A full rate schedule for registration is available on the Attendee Pricing page on

Zak Storm Trifecta Launch ImageThe series has launched in the U.S. on Netflix, and coincides with the release of Bandai America’s toy line exclusively at Amazon and Mobile Adventure Available on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Kindle Fire.  

Jeremy Zag, founder and CEO of ZAG, the award-winning global independent animation studio specializing in the creation and production of original, high-quality IP for kids and family entertainment in the film and TV sector, announced the digital trifecta launch of its latest original, boys’ action/adventure comedy TV series under the ZAG HEROESTM brand, Zak StormTM  – Super Pirate.

Man of Action Entertainment (Ben 10, Big Hero 6) created the series.  

Zak Storm — Super Pirate, the only modern-day transforming superhero “Super Pirate” series for boys six to 11-years-old debuted fall 2017 in the U.S. on Discovery Family, and Sinclair Broadcast Group's KidsClick TV.  ZAG and global master toy partner Bandai America changed play by launching – Nov. 1 – a digital trifecta for the tech-infused brand that ushers in a truly connected play experience by interconnecting the TV show, toys and mobile game.  

When kids WATCH the TV series, it will sync with the Zak Storm Super Pirate free to play mobile game to deliver small-screen battles and adventures that mimic the real-time TV show scenes. This in turn provides the player digital game rewards. The Zak Storm Super Pirate experience is further realized when kids collect and PLAY with Zak Storm physical toys from Bandai America, available exclusively in the U.S. at Amazon for the month of November. 

Each comes with collectible treasure that provides rewards for the Zak Storm mobile game. Kids simply scan the unique QR code on the collectible treasure into the free to play Zak Storm Super Pirate app to receive weapons, powers, worlds, strength, health and much more in the mobile game.

With the Zak Storm Super Pirate app, players take on the role of Zak Storm as he assembles his crew, explores the treacherous seas, and confronts Skullivar’s minions in battle. Ultimately, the player’s journey centers on digital gameplay powered by physical toy scanning—and that journey syncs with the TV show to LEVEL-UP both digital and physical experiences. The Zak Storm Super Pirate app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play, as well as Amazon for Fire tablets.  

“We have had an overwhelming response from kids to Zak StormTM – Super Pirate in the countries where the TV series has already premiered, and we are excited to launch this digital trifecta that allows kids to synergistically play across the Zak Storm world via multiple platforms for a truly unique play experience,” Zag said in a release. “We have created endless possibilities for fun, as kids are rewarded for doing what they already love to do: WATCH, PLAY and LEVEL-UP!”     Zak Storm™ – Super Pirate has already released in some key territories around the globe.  In Europe, the series airs on Lagadère’s Canal J, and Gulli in France; on Sony’s POP in the UK—where it is a top five title for 2017 ; Spain’s Clan TV and Canal Panda; RTS in Switzerland (FR); Italy’s Super!; and RTL Telekids in the Netherlands.  Other leading broadcasters across Europe and the Middle East who will debut the series before Christmas and early next year include Germany’s Super RTL, Finland’s MTV 3, Portugal’s SIC, and Canal Panda, Ouf Tivi and VTM/KZoom in Belgium, and Israel’s Zoom. In Latin America, Zak  Storm™ – Super Pirate is available on Discovery Kids Latin America, the #1 kids cable network in the region, where the series is #1 for Boys 4–8 in Brazil and ranks over the channel average for Brazil, Mexico and Argentina for the month.  

ZAG HEROEZ  Zak  Storm™ – Super Pirate follows the adventures of the headstrong Zak Storm, a seemingly typical kid who is swept into the Bermuda Triangle—the cosmic “junk drawer” of the universe—while trying to win a surfing competition. Discovering an enchanted talking sword (Calabrass), Zak is magically transformed into the swashbuckling, renegade super pirate hero, Zak Storm. Bravely committing to serve as the captain of a high-tech, living ship, called The Chaos, Zak encounters the Triangle's seven mysterious seas while battling villains and creatures with the help of a unique crew of misfits. An equally empowered Atlantean female first mate (Cece), a thick-headed, heavy-fisted Viking (Crogar), a neurotic space traveler, and a poltergeist prankster kid join forces with Zak in an effort to unlock the secrets that will chart their course home.  

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UnknownThe Toy Association’s TOTY Awards program annually recognizes the top toys of the year, from classic board games to innovative tech toys.

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has announced the 2018 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award finalists are available online at Amazon and Toys“R”Us® through February 2018, providing shoppers with unique access to a comprehensive list of the hottest toys of the season curated by toy and play experts.

Frequently referred to as the “Oscars” of the toy industry, The Toy Association’s TOTY Awards program annually recognizes the top toys of the year, from classic board games to innovative tech toys. Shoppers can trust that these are some of the hottest toys for children of all ages, as they’ve been vetted by the esteemed industry awards program and backed by Amazon and Toys“R”Us.

The TOTY Awards program supports the work of the Toy Industry Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the North American toy industry, and serves as a critical fundraiser to enable TIF to provide joy and comfort to millions of children in need. TOTY finalist companies have donated funds to the Foundation in support of a research-based program that will explore the role of play in trauma-informed care for pediatric hospital patients and their families.

“The holidays are the perfect time of year to celebrate the many joys of toys and play, as exemplified by this year’s wonderful TOTY finalists,” Jean Butler, executive director at the Toy Industry Foundation, said in a release. “We are very thankful for the generosity of so many companies, whose contributions will allow TIF to fund the second phase of an initiative with Nemours Children’s Health System, leading to the development of a new hospital program that will support and comfort sick children.”

This year’s TOTY finalists were reviewed and ranked by 20 expert judges, who considered each product’s creativity, design, play value, and marketing, before narrowing the field of more than 600 nominees to a slate of 122 finalists. Winners will be announced in February 2018.

Voting for TOTY 2018 is now open; winners will be announced during a celebration in New York City on Feb. 16, 2018. 

TOIA logoThe Toy Association urges families to follow age labels, keep small parts from kids under three-years-old.

A new national survey of toy-purchasing parents conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of The Toy Association has revealed troublesome findings about parents’ toy safety beliefs and behaviors. In light of these findings, The Toy Association is alerting families of the top safety tips to keep in mind leading up to the holiday season – and all year long.

According to the survey, while many of these parents (67 percent) say that toys with small parts are among their chief safety concerns, 82 percent think the age label on toy packaging is “just a suggestion” – and 73 percent think it’s okay for younger children to play with their older siblings’ toys.

What’s more, 81 percent of these parents say that when they shop for toys for children, they tend to focus more on the types of toys that kids are interested in, rather than the toys recommended for the child’s age.

”Parents and other consumers should always heed the age label on toy packaging. Toys labeled 3-plus are not safe for kids under three, because they may contain small parts, which can be a choking hazard,” Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of safety and regulatory affairs at The Toy Association, said in a release. “Contrary to what some parents might think, a toy’s age grading isn’t about how smart a child is. It’s based on the developmental abilities of kids at a given age and the specific features of the toy.”

Two-thirds of parents (67 percent) also said that they believe toys manufactured outside the United States are less safe than those made in America, when in fact all toys sold in the U.S., no matter where in the world they are made, must adhere to strict federal safety standards and laws that are in place to protect children at play. Parents can rest assured knowing that toys sold at reputable retailers – whether in stores or online – are tested to more than 100 rigorous U.S. safety laws and regulations.

However, adults play an important role in ensuring that kids are playing safely and appropriately. Staying safe this holiday season is as easy as 1-2-3 – check out The Toy Association’s top three safety tips:

1. Always follow the age label on toy packaging. Avoid toys with small parts for kids under 3 (or kids who still mouth toys). Toys with small parts have a warning label on the packaging, so keep a careful eye out as you shop.

2. Keep older kids’ toys, which may contain small pieces, out of reach from younger siblings and their friends. Always supervise children while they play.

3. Shop at a retailer you know and trust. Store staff at established businesses will be knowledgeable about age-appropriate toys. Online sellers will include safety information and the toy’s age grading in product descriptions. On the other hand, garage sales, secondhand stores, or temporary retailers may not know about the latest safety information and certified products – and may not be around should an issue arise later on.

“Once the gifts are unwrapped, parents should get on the floor and play with their kids,” Lawrence says. “Showing little ones how to properly use a toy or game is the best way to make sure they understand how to safely enjoy it. Best of all – playing together as a family is lots of fun and even has enhanced developmental benefits for children.”

The Toy Association and its members take toy safety extremely seriously and are committed year-round to educating parents and caregivers about safe play. Following this simple safety advice can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary accidents and injuries.

For more advice on safe play – including tips for first-time parents, advice on magnet and battery safety, how to ensure safe play outdoors, and much more, visit The Toy Association’s free resource for parents and caregivers -

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