Land a Licensing Deal [Victoria Larson]

Episode #189 the Wingnut Social Podcast

How do you market your brand for maximum visibility? How do you land a licensing deal when you’re not a celebrity designer? What does it take to make the collaborations successful? Victoria Larson stumbled into her first licensing deal but has since perfected her strategy. What does she recommend? How does she land licensing deals? Listen to this episode to learn more!

Victoria is a textile and wallcovering designer. She launched her collection of printed fabric, printed grasscloth, wallpaper and wovens in 2010. She often collaborates with brands and is on her second licensing deal with Stout Brothers. All of her work is crafted in the US and is perfect for classic or modern interiors.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [0:50] Natalie’s medical scare [She’s OK!]
  • [6:05] Marketing yourself to get a licensing deal
  • [7:22] Victoria’s background in design
  • [10:04] Was getting a licensing deal a strategy?
  • [14:42] Marketing your brand for visibility
  • [16:05] Victoria’s social media strategy
  • [18:32] How she’s getting licensing deals
  • [21:52] What are licensing deal-breakers?
  • [23:11] Does the type of product matter?
  • [26:28] Don’t cannibalize your own brand
  • [27:07] What up Wingnut! Round
  • [29:10] How to connect with Victoria
  • [32:05] Blooper Reel!

Connect with Victoria Larson

Resources & People Mentioned

From architectural interior design to textile design

In the beginning, Victoria dabbled in production and began creating a lot of test prints. She made pillows for her friends and caftans for her daughters—which is how she stumbled into her first licensing deal. She was introduced to a friend of a friend who loved her daughter’s caftans. This person happened to run the US side of a children’s swimwear company. She asked Victoria to create their custom designs. She said yes because it sounded like fun.

So Victoria grabbed books and learned what she could. She reached out to as many people as she could who knew anything. She learned Adobe illustrator. She ended up working with that swimwear company for 8 years doing one big launch—and one mini launch—a year. It was fun for her and grew her creativity. Because it was so easy, successful, and fun, it became part of her plan moving forward. She decided she’d always do licensing in addition to her brand.

Marketing your brand to land a licensing deal

Victoria believes that it’s become far easier for smaller boutique brands to get a licensing agreement. You don’t have to be a celebrity designer anymore. She states that “There’s more emphasis on the process, on the craft, and on the story.” Brands are seeing the value of partnerships.

Victoria’s goal is to create relationships—not just sell a product. She doesn’t have a giant Instagram following. But social media isn’t just about likes and followers. It’s about creating relationships and engagement. Engagement is feedback for a smaller brand. If you use it the right way, you get instant feedback.

It’s also about being clear about your intentions. Make sure that you’re using Instagram for your brand story—not your dog photos and vacation pictures.

Choose your collaborations carefully

Where do you look for brand collaborations? Victoria points out that you can start with your existing relationships. Do you do a lot of custom work with a vendor? Who are like-minded brands? What are their brand values? Will they be a good fit?

Victoria is very careful about who she collaborates with. She’s had successful collaborations and some that haven’t done well. She notes that you have to know what your goals are going into the agreement. You have to understand the time-commitment and marketing commitment that’s necessary to make it a valuable and successful venture.

Victoria believes it’s important to lay out both parties’ expectations to find out the commitment level on each side. It will take more time than you think it will. She likes to lay out a timeline for marketing: When do sneak peeks start? When do we put it on Instagram? Who posts what? What additional marketing will there be? Who does what and when? When expectations are out on the table there are no surprises.

But Victoria emphasizes that you shouldn’t cannibalize your own brand. You can’t go all-in on someone else’s brand and forget about your own. Make sure the offerings are different so you’re not directly competing. You don’t want to confuse your customers or upset your sales channel.

Who handles the marketing expenses? How do you get clear on unified goals? Does the product you choose matter for landing a deal? Victoria shares so much valuable insight into marketing and licensing in this episode. Don’t miss it!

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