Speakers

Learn trends and strategy from art licensing experts

SURTEX conference speakers are experts in the field of art licensing. They range from artists to attorneys to manufacturers – representing all perspectives of the licensing process. Their workshops cover everything you need to know about turning your artwork into business opportunities – getting started, the latest trends, working with agents, writing contracts, etc.


 

2016 SPEAKERS

Andie Hanna
Andie is a multi-faceted designer with a rich background in apparel, accessory and product design. With a degree in fashion design from Kent State University, Andie spent more than 15 years as a fashion designer for brands such as Mossimo Girls for Target, Arizona Jean Company for JCPenney, Tween Brands and most recently as Design Manager for Thirty-One Gifts. What started out as a necessity became a passion when Andie learned how to create print and pattern. This led Andie on a path from the corporate world to starting her own business. Andie currently licenses and sells her artwork for multiple product categories including fabric, stationery, adult coloring books, paper products, stickers, and bags. She also consults and offers custom design work both in fashion/product design as well as surface design for a range of clients. Andie’s keen eye on trends, sense of style and product development expertise paired with her inspiration from world travel, nature, children’s books and all things vintage result in a unique range of designs.

Anne Brown
Anne has always been drawn to creative people, fascinated by their courage and ability to express themselves through their craft.  With her own passion for design, Anne’s entire career has been in product development for the home décor and specialty gift industries. She is someone who took a creative spark as a child and filled her life with a career and people who continue to keep that spark ignited.  After graduating from the University of Kansas, where she studied textile design, she began her career with Seabrook Wallcoverings. A few years later, she became the Creative Product Manager of a new Home Division for Demdaco, later becoming a Senior Product Developer, working on collections including Kelly Rae Roberts, Embellish Your Story, and Lyricology. In 2011, Anne joined Studio M, formerly known as Magnet Works, as the Senior Director of Product Development to help expand their line of products. Through a shared passion for community – artists, employees, suppliers, etc., she works to identify strategic growth opportunities and future direction of product development.

Christopher Mooney
Christopher Mooney brings more than 25 years of career experience working in product development, design, sourcing, sales and branding. He currently heads up merchandising, design, product development and sourcing for Avanti Linens, a major player in the bath category. Prior to Avanti, he founded and operated Brandstorm, an agency specializing in the building of merchandising strategies for national brands and the partnering of them with major retailers. Earlier, he held senior positions at Style.Lab and Avonhome, assigned to marketing, sales, product development, and sourcing. Mooney began his career with Bloomingdale’s.

Debbie Taylor-Kerman
Debbie Taylor-Kerman is a Scottish artist living and working in New York City.  After graduating from Liverpool School of Art in England, Debbie worked as a textile designer and art director.  She came to New York in 1991 “for two years”, and today, over twenty years later she’s fully rooted here with her New Yorker husband and two sons.  She had her first son in 1999, and after two years as a stay-at-home Mom, she got the bug to create her own art, so in 2001 she went to the National Stationery Show with her portfolio and managed successfully to license her artwork to several greeting card companies. Since then, Debbie’s art has rapidly evolved into an extensive licensing program.  She has partnered with many distinguished companies to create a broad range of products, from dinnerware to popcorn tins to fabric to Christmas ornaments, which can be found at fine gift, specialty and department stores worldwide.

Emma Schonenberg
Emma went to design school in her hometown of San Salvador in Central America. After graduating, she worked in advertising, apparel, and the decorative candle industries. She also has experience in USAID funded programs in El Salvador and Iraq; but discovered her true passion in a subject unknown in her country: Surface Pattern Design. Through the years investing time traveling to shows, researching the industry & market, experimenting and growing her portfolio she has achieved lucrative sales and licensing contracts. Her designs can be seen on products ranging from party supplies to fabric, umbrellas, puzzles and wall art. It was monumental when she had the opportunity to see her signature kaleidoscope design style featured on the runway during Fashion Week NY on men’s swimwear. As of last year Emma signed a contract with My Favorite Designs Agency and can now really focus on what she loves the most . . . creating!

Gary Levine
Gary Levine is the Owner/President and Creative Director of Roaring Brook Art, an art licensing and publishing company.  Gary began his art/marketing career in the early ‘90s working at an art publishing company as an international sales manager, and then went on to work for two wholesale framing/wall décor companies where he sold to national retail chain accounts.  In 2003, Gary went out on his own and opened Roaring Brook Art, now a major art source for wall and home décor manufacturers, accounting for over $10 million in retail sales.  Roaring Brook licenses art for bath accessories products, dinnerware, wall décor, melamine, bedding, giftware, stationery, kitchen accessories, and accent furniture –found in major retail chains across the US and worldwide, including Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, JC Penney, Wal Mart, Kmart, HomeGoods and Target.  Gary holds a business/marketing degree from Boston University. He lives in Ardsley, NY with his wife Iris (co-owner of Roaring Brook Art) and their 3 teenage children. Gary enjoys skiing, tennis, yoga, live theater, and a good movie. He sings regularly with an acapella men’s chorus and performs in local community theater productions.

Jan Draheim
Jan has over 35 years of experience working within the art industry. She is currently owner and President of Painted Planet Licensing Group, an agency representing 21 talented artists from around the world.  Jan got her start working as the VP of Operations at Viking Woodcrafts, an arts and craft supply distribution company founded by her parents. Eight years later the company branched into the publishing of decorative painting books with a new division, Viking Folk Art Publications. Jan and her husband purchased the publishing division in 1996.  The relationships she’d built over the years helped open the door to the exciting world of licensing, and Painted Planet was formed in March of 2004. Jan’s knowledge and experience allows her to offer a unique and valuable perspective to the artists and clients she works with.  She is a professional at brand management and developing long-term licensing strategies.

Jasmine Sandler
Jasmine Sandler, with over 15 years of Senior-level B2B client Digital Marketing Consulting and CEO experience at her own Digital Agency, is an Internet Marketing industry awarded Top 40 Digital Marketing Strategist (2012, 2013, 2014); Top SEO Influencer on Twitter (2014) and Top Content Marketer (2014).  She is a global keynote speaker, consultant and trainer on B2B Social Media Marketing Strategies, LinkedIn Selling, SEO and Online Branding for Key Executives.  Jasmine is the author of (2) successful Amazon books on Online Branding and Social Selling strategies: “Branding & Sales: The LinkedIn Way”, and “How to Brand Yourself Online like a CEO”. She is the CEO of Agent-cy Online Marketing and creator of multiple Digital Marketing training programs for B2B Sales and Marketing teams. Jasmine Sandler’s training topics, published articles and whitepapers, presentations, sample speaking videos, audio interviews, client testimonials and digital marketing consulting services can be found at www.jasminesandler.com.

Jeanne Hamburg
Jeanne Hamburg Esq.,has expertise in all aspects of copyright and trademark law, both in litigation and in the transactional area. Resident in the New York City Office, she assists clients in a broad range of industries with their IP needs. In each year since 2009, Jeanne has been recognized as a New York Super Lawyer® for Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Litigation. Jeanne litigates copyright, trademark and cybersquatting cases through trial and (if necessary) appeal. To this end, she has litigated in federal courts across the country acting as national counsel to bring and defend infringement claims for clients both foreign and domestic. Additionally, she has recovered domain names for clients in many Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Proceedings, and prosecuted and defended numerous opposition and cancellation proceedings and ex parte appeals in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Jeanne is experienced in trademark and copyright licensing, traditional print and online publishing, software development, web site development, content licenses and electronic subscriptions. She counsels clients on intellectual property aspects of mergers and acquisitions. She is expert in copyright and trademark clearance, prosecution and enforcement and has particular expertise with contentious and transactional issues arising from the Internet. She is Chair of the firm’s Internet Law Group.

Jodi Pedri
Jodi is a renowned artist and illustrator specializing in fashion and beauty images. She has more than 3,000 original works in her collection that span imagery from the latest runway fashion illustrations to her favorite dog breeds. She takes a fresh approach using watercolors, pen, ink and layered textures to give her work depth and beauty.  While attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Jodi was inspired to create her own clothing line, bringing colorful illustrations to life while gaining national distribution through accounts at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s.  She began licensing her work in 2008, garnering several accounts with her creation Working Gils Design. These fun and flirty illustrations appeared in Walmart, Target, Harrods, Barnes and Noble, Costco, Hallmark and boutiques throughout the USA.  Today, the By Jodi collection is the newest and freshest collection embracing the emerging fashion trend for wall art, décor, bedding, tabletop and giftware.  “To me,” she says, “fashion is not just about clothes, it’s about embracing beauty and creating imagery that inspires you. I don’t just want to look great in the outfit I am wearing, I want my home to reflect my style and my personality.  I think licensing my fashion and high designs to multiple categories is a great way to bring color into a room and add style to your home.  I have a very eclectic portfolio, and that’s done by design. I want my art to be as beautiful, creative and unique, as the people who buy it.”  Jodi lives in fabulous Las Vegas with her husband Joe, daughters Juliana and Jillian and dogs Rocky and ChaCha.

Joshua J. Kaufman
Joshua J. Kaufman is a partner in the law firm of Venable, LLP and chair of the firm’s Copyright, and Licensing group. While Mr. Kaufman is based in the Washington, D.C. Mr. Kaufman has a national practice with clients throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He specializes in licensing, art law, copyright, trademarks, publicity rights and computer/e-commerce/online legal issues. In his practice he assists his clients in transactions as well as litigation. He has represented hundreds of artists, publishers, licensing agents, galleries, on line information and content providers, etc. He is general counsel and a founder of the Art Copyright Coalition. He has had a regular column in Art Business News and Art World News, he wrote for Li©ense Magazine, is a co-author of Licensing for Dummies, is a contributor to Licensing Royalty Rates, author of the Art of Investing in Art and Fine Art Print Disclosure Laws and co-authored the Associates Guide to Copyright Law. He has published over 200 articles on copyright, licensing, art law and online issues. He was as a founding member of the DC Bar’s, Sport, Art and Entertainment Section. He was on the board of the Copyright Society of the USA (DC Chapter). He is an Adjunct Professor at American University Law School where for the last eighteen years he has taught Art & Entertainment Law. He has numerous reported cases as well as successfully arguing the landmark copyright rights case, CCNV v. Reid, before the United States Supreme Court.

Julie Ager
Julie Ager is the Licensing Director and co-owner of Artistic Designs Group, a licensing agency located just outside Annapolis, MD.  She has over twenty years experience in the Consumer Products industry.  Before starting Artistic Designs Group, she was the VP of Retail Consulting at AC Nielsen managing a team consulting on consumer products buying behaviors with major mass merchandisers (including Walmart and Target), Drug Stores (including CVS, Rite Aid and Longs), department stores and various manufacturers and retailers throughout the United States, Mexico and South Africa.  She has been recognized for her ability to develop effective marketing and merchandising programs maximizing product sales.

Larry Hersberger
Internationally acclaimed and licensed Artist Larry Hersberger lives and creates in Thomasville, NC. Known as the Art of Magic and Light™, his work has been internationally licensed and selected in the prestigious PPA IPC Loan Collection Book. He is currently writing his book Art of Magic & Light™ and Think Like a Brick. He has also created numerous unique “one of a kind” children’s books for clients throughout America. Using a combination of skills which range from painting, sculpting, photography, graphic design and digital art, set design and writing, Mr. Hersberger creates artwork that is quite unique. His theatrical and storytelling technique coupled with his wide skill set expands the boundaries of artistic creation. The resulting artwork truly stops people and captures their imagination and complete attention. In his lifetime, Larry has created for clients in 51 countries around the world and has lectured in 5 countries. Touching a global audience with a joyous message has always been important to Larry. “As an artist, my goal is to create artwork that begs your gaze. If done well, it will make you search, study and take it in. I want the viewer to feel and live the artwork and have it connect with their own life experiences and their imagination. Our inner child still lives within us all.” “My work takes me to a place of creation, not duplication. I love that edge. It is the unknown and where “new” things are waiting to be discovered.”

Laura Duellman
Laura Duellman is Director of Product Development at MasterPieces Puzzles and has been with the company for ten years.  She licenses over 300 art images per year for use in jigsaw puzzles, and works directly with illustrators, photographers, and brands to create an extensive portfolio of games and crafts in addition to puzzles.  Laura spearheads the strategic approach to all these categories, working with sales teams to develop individual customer and channel marketing strategies. Laura manages an in-house team of product managers and designers, and works directly with manufacturers to create innovative product concepts.

Linda O’Donnell
Linda O’Donnell is the Design Director of Certified International Corp., a leading supplier of ceramic and melamine tabletop as well as glass and acrylic drinkware. She has been in the housewares industry for 25 years and is very proud of the long term collaborative relationships she has developed with many of the top designers in the field.  She is responsible for the entire process of product development from concept to production, including spotting new trends, new designers and new products while directing the unique style and quality for which Certified is known. “Licensed artists and designers are our lifeline, we inspire and motivate each other to produce exciting designs and products that are both decorative yet functional, to bring beauty and art into our everyday lives.”

Lisa Kluthe
Lisa Kluthe is the VP, Licensing and Brand Development for Evergreen Enterprises, a leading wholesaler in the Home, Gift and Garden industry.  Evergreen Enterprises was founded in 1993 as a home-based business creating applique flags for sale at the Virginia State Fair.  From this humble beginning, the company has grown to 8 distinct brands with worldwide distribution into all retail channels.  In her role, Lisa is responsible for creative direction, art selection, trend forecasting, brand development and licensing for all brands.  Prior to her current position, Lisa spent 12 years at Art In Motion, an internationally recognized trend-setting Art Publisher.  During that time, she held various roles within the organization, most recently Director of Sales and Licensing.   Lisa greatly enjoys collaborating with artists to develop their creations into exceptional home and garden décor products.

Liz Wain
Design innovator and brand driver Liz Wain has a philosophy. Actually, she has several – all learned from lessons in life, love, and design. “It’s all about the journey” Liz has a word for her career: it’s an adventure. Her experience in design, manufacturing, and marketing has touched a range of industries, leaving her own signature mark on every brand she touches, from home furnishings, textiles, housewares, apparel, jewelry and accessories, personal care, stationary and paper products, general gifts, and collectibles. “Forget the linear path” In 1987, Liz’s career began where most designer’s peak – at Barney’s of New York, where she made her name with a single napkin. Over 27 years, her experience and influence has been felt internationally. Liz evolved her couture linen collection into a lifestyle brand with a hold in more than 1200 luxury retailers worldwide. Liz Wain licensed products sold through mass market and specialty retailers nationwide. “Be open to the possibilities” Anyone who knows Liz knows that this was just the beginning. In 2003, she opened her expertise and talents to new market segments. The Bradford Exchange leveraged Liz’s keen sense of design and merchandising to introduce the Thomas Kinkade Collection of Fine Jewelry. Liz’s new adventure in jewelry design turned to gold as this business continues to thrive today. “Fresh perspective + design integrity = winning product” In 2006, Liz returned home as the Chief Creative Officer for leading Chinese quilt supplier Nostalgia Home Fashions, where her designs were distributed to big box and specialty department stores internationally. She joined Enesco as Director of Design over Business Development in 2009 charged with bringing newness to the organization. Liz’s career took another adventurous turn in 2014 when she joined retailer Things Remembered as Creative Director. Liz elevated and broadened TR’s product assortment bringing her consumer-centric ideals and business strategy to the world of personalized gifting. “Food, folks and fun” “Above all, the design process is fun.” she says. “Throughout my career, my most successful ventures have come from collaborations and partnerships where I had the most fun.” Keeping the fun in design, Liz’s consulting group, Wain’s World, works alongside manufacturers, designers, artists and retailers, responding to market trends, identifying key growth opportunities and implementing strategies that drive revenue and increase profits. Clients include: Creativity Explored, Kathy Davis Studios, Julie Comstock, idesign+co, Vietri, Incidence Paris, painted-words licensing group, Painted Planet Licensing, Alberto Culver, Oak Patch Gifts, Focus Products Group, Oggi Corporation, Denyse Schmidt, Mercedes Benz, as well as overseas factories.

Marc A. Schwartz
Marc graduated with joint MBA-Finance and Juris Doctor degrees in 1988 from Hofstra University in New York. He started his career working with an Intellectual Property boutique law firm, handling licensing deals in trademark, trade dress, copyright and patent areas. He also represented clients in infringement litigation, as well as handling corporate transactions involving sale or transfer of intellectual property.  After 5 years in private practice, Marc went in-house as IP counsel with Bob Mackie corporate in New York and Los Angeles. He created a formal licensing business for Bob Mackie, expanding branded product into home furnishings (furniture, rugs, lighting fixtures, bedding) along with luggage, artwork, fragrance, collectible Barbie dolls, and women’s sportswear and jewelry with QVC television network. QVC, Mattel Barbie and fragrance deals are all over 20 years old, a rarity in consumer product licensing. In addition, Marc worked with lenders to structure a buyout of equity partners through innovative funding utilizing Bob Mackie IP (trademarks and copyrights), as well as original Bob Mackie art and fashion/costume archives. He became Chief Operating Officer and Principal after buyout in 1997. Marc has participated in many licensing conferences and has been a member of Licensing Executives Society (LES) IP 100 since 2013. The IP 100 is an invitation only group of 100 key licensing executives from diverse industries.

Mark Woodman
Mark Woodman CMG, a passionate, dynamic designer, trend-spotter, writer and speaker, has contributed to the pages and airwaves of media, the stages of exhibitions and the product lines of international manufacturers. Through the world of color and design he has embraced consultancies with international companies. Mr. Woodman’s aesthetic understanding of “real-life” color and design helps balance his approach to product specification, complementing practical application with the excitement of the new. In addition, he facilitates trend panels for numerous companies and served as President of the Color Marketing Group, to study and discern color direction. As owner of mark woodman design+color, a design/product consultancy, Mr. Woodman’s design work has ranged from individual product lines to private residences and commercial interiors to personally selecting the exterior color palettes for entire communities. His room designs have graced the pages of numerous publications as well as the editorial and cover of the book, “Color In Small Spaces.” A spirited and accomplished international speaker, Mr. Woodman frequently lectures on color and design for prominent organizations such as DuPont, Sherwin-Williams, ASID, PDCA and Color Marketing Group and exhibitions at Stockholm Furniture Fair, Decorex London, SOFA, TISE, NeoCon and Furnitex and Decoration and Design in Australia.  “Color and design directions become a narrative journey, building stories along the way,” says Mr. Woodman, “from the human experience, to the delight of music, to new tastes in cuisine, it all contributes to the story and, ultimately, the products in our lives.”

Mary Beth Freet
Mary Beth Freet is the Creative Director and Agent of Pink Light Studio. Mary Beth currently represents over 20 amazingly talented illustrators from around the world. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her eight years of product development experience in the fashion industry where she worked at Nordstrom as a Senior Textile Designer.  Mary Beth’s passion lies in inspiring her artists and creating artwork in collections that are whimsical, modern, and bursting with bright happy colors. Working with Nordstrom Product Development, Mary Beth gained a great deal of knowledge in business and merchandising, which she mixes with her creativity to come up with a formula for successful design. She has a special talent for taking cues from the runway and current market trends and translating them into extremely marketable and very trend-right artwork.  While traveling she is constantly gathering inspiration from the market, nature, and architecture. Pink Light Studio now licenses and works on custom projects for clients all around the world. Pink Light artwork can be found on fabric, stationery, bedding, gift packaging, children’s products, electronic accessories, wall décor, tableware, home décor, and more.

Mary Sher
Mary Sher is one of the founding members of Bentley Publishing Group, one of the world’s leading art publishers of open edition prints and posters. For twenty-five years Bentley Publishing Group had over 10,000 images available, representing work from over 1000 artists and sold art to over 30 countries. Imagery ranged from traditional to contemporary to Museum Editions and abstract designs. Being part of the Bentley Publishing Group Art Selection Committee exposed Mary to the multitude of images submitted for publishing and gave her first hand availability of new images to license. Her search for artists to publish and license extended to England and Germany and she produced, staffed and represented the companies in the many trade shows that Bentley Publishing and Licensing exhibited in each year. Currently, Mary is President of Bentley Licensing Group, an Art Licensing Agency, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has been active in the licensing industry since 1989. Bentley Licensing has been dedicated to connecting artist’s imagery with worldwide manufacturer’s need for creating top selling product. Mary works “hands on” with major manufacturers in bringing innovative collections of products to the market place. “The reality for me is that my artists’ creativity is my key product; I need the best images and designs to satisfy my licensing clients. That’s why I actually take my artists and team them up with my licensing clients. This way, I assemble a creative team in order to facilitate the creation of images and designs that help sell the clients products. With this equation, everybody wins.” Mary has also been a featured speaker at several Surtex Show seminars.

Mary Topinko
Mary Topinko is the Design Manager for Bardwil Linens, a major manufacturer of table, kitchen and bath soft goods. She also serves as the head designer for the Lenox brand for table, kitchen and bath. Bardwil also manufactures licensed brand product for Tommy Bahama, Waverly and a number of leading designers.  From 2004-2007 Mary served as CAD manager for CFL, NY a design firm responsible for design for Jcrew, American Rag, and Le Tigre plus a wide range of private label brands. She joined CFL from Kellwood Company where she designed dress and sports shirts for men’s and women’s brands including Nautica, LL Bean and Land’s End.  Mary has a degree in Fashion Textile Design and resides in New York.

Nicole Tamarin
Nicole Tamarin is a self represented artist who has been licensing her work since 2012 after launching her business at Surtex. Her soft feminine florals, clean polished delivery and superb attention to detail, mark the style for which Nicole is known. Hand rendered watercolor designs and patterns, that have a timeless appeal, can be found on a variety of licensed products from fabric, greeting cards, invitations, wall art, home decor, garden flags, gift wrap, paper products, and crafting supplies. Nicole, through various channels, has been able to successfully navigate her way through the many facets of art licensing with no previous knowledge of the business. “The information is out there, with determination and a willingness to put forth the hard work necessary, you can achieve your goals of a full time art licensing career.”

Patti Carpenter
Patti Carpenter, principal of carpenter + company, is an award winning Creative Director in globally sourced home accents, personal accessories and gifts with extensive experience in product design and development, merchandising, and color + trend forecasting. As a Micro-Enterprise specialist with U.S. presidential recognition for domestic and international expertise in artisan development, small producer and entrepreneur training, and economic development, she has been successful in international sourcing and creating innovative products for her eponymous home textiles brand, carpenter + company, sold internationally. Additionally, Carpenter has designed, sourced and created strong private label collections that add revenue and enhance the image of brands including Bloomingdales, Sferra, Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel, The Phillips Collection, ABC Carpet and Home, Donna Karan Urban Zen and Ralph Lauren. She has traveled and worked in fifty-four countries and has spoken and written on Color + Trend and Design around the globe. As an international expert in Color + Trend forecasting, Patti is now a Global Trend Ambassador for the Americas Mart in Atlanta and the face of Color + Trend for Maison & Objet in America. 

Paul Wheeler
Early childhood years were spent in Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia and Rio de Janeiro, the son of an American Diplomat. After Graduating with a degree in Creative Writing and Fine Art Photography from Bennington College, he took a job in New York with Time Magazine in their photo department. Two years later, Wheeler opened up a full service boutique Photo Agency, representing a group of some of the best photojournalists in the world. The company specialized in producing editorial feature stories and syndicating them worldwide. The company opened 13 affiliate offices in Europe and Asia and eventually had a photo-stock archive of hundreds of thousands of images, and an active assignment and a book-packaging business. Wheeler Pictures merged with another Agency in 1990 and he relocated to Vermont with his family. Wheeler became a partner and Director of Licensing for Applejack Art Partners in 1992 and for the next decade worked at building AJ into one of the leading art based licensing companies in the country, before selling his partnership in 2005. AJ has since gone out of business. Wheeler then purchased an interest in Looking Good Licensing, a small boutique Art Licensing Agency. Wheeler expanded the portfolio of artists and brands and in February of 2011 Wheeler took over 100% of the company. The portfolio now includes Yoga Dogs, Noah Bay, Roy Rogers & Happy Trails, Animal Yoga, April Cornell, Kipper Speaks, Isabelle Brent, Robin Betterley, Steve Sundram, Greenwich Workshop, Union Pacific Railroad, Hummel, Brisco Brands, Christian Strong, Animal Quackers, Graffi*tee Studios, Grin Big, Alice Hinther, Harry Wysocki, David T. Sands, Kevin Daniels, and others. In 2008 Wheeler and his Partner Ken LeFevre, former CEO of Papel Giftware and President of the Hummel brand in North America, launched Offsides, LLC. a small agency that owned the rights to the humor brand Life is Crap. Since that launch the brand has done over $14 million at wholesale. In addition Offsides Branding has expanded to include an e-commerce platform selling licensed goods for their Life is brands: Life is Crap, Life is Ruff, Wine is Life, Life is Poop, Life is Beer, and Life is Fantastic! In November of 2011 they launched a print on demand division for all these brands allowing consumers to design and personalize their own apparel and other assorted products with the Life is brands. He lives in Southern Vermont where his wife is executive director of the Equinox Spa, with two dogs and two horses, four grown up kids and 4 grandchildren!

Renee Jacobs
Currently residing in Florence, Italy, Renee is a Trend Forecasting Consultant with 10 years of fashion industry experience. Following a BA in Communications from the University of Michigan and an AAS in Fashion Marketing from Parsons the New School for Design, she spent following 5 years working in New York, first in wholesale showrooms such as Calvin Klein Collection, John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferrè, Lanvin and Malo and then as a Sales Director at online Trend Forecasting agency Stylesight (now part of WGSN). Deciding to pursue a Masters in Fashion Trend Forecasting, Renee transferred to Florence in 2012 to study at Polimoda, where she then began researching and developing Trend Forecasts, and well as photographing and writing for online trend forecasting agency Fashion Snoops, while traveling to major trade fairs throughout Europe. Renee has natural eye for creativity and an aesthetic for unexpected beauty, the sharp instincts of a Scorpio, and an international, rounded perspective of the design industry, which she applies to tailored trend and idea consulting, proposing accurate and timely forecasts, which navigate the fine line between innovation and novelty and what is commercial and correct for her clients’ needs.

Sarah McAnerny
Sarah Linkey McAnerny is the lead artist/oldest sister of the designer trio, Tre Sorelle Studios. The family of decorative mural artists evolved into a nationally licensed design house about 10 years ago, specializing in gorgeous art for the Home Decor industries.  When they became working moms, they transitioned from mural work to home-based studios where they could be closer to their kids, while getting their artwork out to a broader audience. They began selling hand-painted tile, furniture, and art to clients across the country through showrooms and their website. They exhibited at their first Surtex in 2006, and met unprecedented success within the following 18 months, creating a spot for themselves at the licensing table during tumultuous economic times. With years of sacrifice and hard work, their drive, talent, and a bit of naivete fueled them towards best-selling collections, partnerships, and success. Just like her family business model, Sarah attributes much of her success in licensing to relationship building, working incredibly hard to satisfy her manufacturing and retail partners’ needs.

Susan January
Susan January is the Vice President of Product Management at Leanin’ Tree, Inc., a 65-year old manufacturer of greeting cards and gift products based in Boulder, Colorado. Her primary responsibility is to direct the company’s long-term product strategy, including product and category planning, allocation and assignment of design and editorial duties, and management of the company’s internal design studio, editorial team, and product management staff.  In addition, she manages more than 750 licensing partnerships with the company’s external creative resources, across all of Leanin’ Tree’s greeting card and gift product categories. Besides her duties at Leanin’ Tree, Susan has been an active member of the Greeting Card Association’s Executive Committee for more than ten years, and currently serves as the GCA’s Immediate Past President.  She has been actively involved for many years with the LOUIE Awards, and has been a speaker on art licensing and the greeting card industry for Surtex, Licensing EXPO and the Craft & Hobby Association.

Suzanne Cruise
Suzanne Cruise – an accomplished artist whose career includes a staff position as an illustrator at Hallmark Cards, Inc. – founded her company, Suzanne Cruise Creative Services, Inc., in 1990. A well-established veteran of the design industry, Cruise has directed her company to be one of the top licensing agencies in the country, featuring many highly acclaimed artists. Cruise has built her flourishing business based on a thorough understanding of the creative process, the marketplace, design trends and clients’ needs. Licensees commend her dedication to understanding and meeting their needs, as well as her unique ability to create a perfect match between artist and manufacturer. “Suzanne understands the importance of matching the right artist to the right licensee,” says Susan January, director of product management, Leanin’ Tree. “She has invested in making sure she understands our needs. She’s honest in providing art direction. That’s important to us, so that we have the product that is right for our retailers. In short, we have a lot of confidence in her abilities.” “Suzanne has that rare ability to see the licensing business from both sides … respectful of the artistic integrity of designers who have set sail in the ocean of licensing, but fully committed to navigating the choppy waters inhabited by manufacturers to help both parties eventually reach solid ground.” Well-respected within the design community, Cruise has been a featured speaker at trade show seminars across the country, including the CHA, SCBWI, Surtex and Licensing shows. In addition, Cruise has been invited to judge portfolios at seminars and shows nationwide – an invitation extended to a chosen few.

Suzy Bramlett
Suzy Bramlett is the Director of Design for Mohawk Home, the world’s leading Flooring Manufacturer.   She has been with Mohawk since 2000 and has had an opportunity to design and create a variety of home fashion accessories including bedding, pillows and tabletop until 2007 and currently Rugs and Floormats, mainly for mass markets. Suzy oversees an in-house Design Staff and works with a number of free- lance artists and licensors from around the world to create designs for these products.  Keeping abreast of today’s key fashion trends as well as identifying and analyzing what customers respond to at retail is a daily essential part of her job.  She constantly strives to create and execute the best designs for Rugs and Floormats to drive sales.  Suzy also travels to India and China to collaborate with Mohawk’s partner factories to create Home Fashion Products as well.  She provides the direction for the translation of art to product while reflecting today’s most current trends and styles.  She has extensive experience working with Mass Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, BB&B, Kohls, Lowes and Home Depot.  She works with Sales and Buyers to achieve the best possible assortments for their product categories.