Back before the internet and instant gratification, licensing was devoted to artists with a true vision. Retailers would go to such artists, like Libby Wilke, and request various product designs and an item would go into production after a year of planning, mock-ups and design ideas. That item would then circulate in an industry for two to three years or longer and make retailers millions. Fast forward to today. Artists no longer hand paint or create anything by hand. Most items are mass produced by machines over seas and if lucky a design will circulate for one season; or a few months. Due to the internet one design is no longer sufficient, making retailers change the wheel every few months, costing them millions in the process. The one thing that has saved this model is celebrity endorsements, like The Nate Berkus collection, Martha Stewart, Cindy Crawford, and various other celebrities. This has helped retailers move past the noise and stand out in an otherwise chaotic retail environment… all in an effort to capture your dollars.
Libby Wilkie was one such artist. She started her career in the early eighties as a licensing artist. Creating shower curtains, bedding, ceramics, towels, linens….you name it, she has probably designed it. At her peak in the nineties she had a beautiful walk up studio that housed four designers. They had many connections to some of the biggest retailers and designed thousands of products. She later moved into textiles. It was a fast paced world, but one she knew and navigated well.
Today Libby focuses primarily on her blog, An Eye For Detail and shares with her audience the importance of quality over quantity, something she knows a great deal about. I admire the fact that Libbie was a pioneer in her industry. Doing things most women wouldn’t have dared to do in the early eighties. She went out on her own and became an entrepreneur overnight in a time when most would have considered that quite risky for a woman; especially once her daughter came along.
Today on the podcast I discuss her best tips for starting out, what keeps an entrepreneur in business in todays crazy market, how to overcome the daily challenges of being your own boss and things to avoid so you can stay successful. Click here to listen on iTunes.
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