When Andrew and Bernadette appeared on our stand at BLE claiming to have designed the Stormtrooper for the original Star Wars movie, we were pretty sceptical. Whilst they appeared to be an otherwise unassuming couple, the first thought was that even having this conversation would probably make us vulnerable to legal suit.
The team were initially hesitant to take the conversation further but, having explored the detail, it became very clear that Andrew of Shepperton Design Studios had, while running a business making canoes and kit cars, accidentally helped create one of the most iconic instantly recognisable characters in film history.
We stepped gingerly into the role of Shepperton Design Studio's licensing agency, helping to launch a range of products that were as 'un-Disney' as possible. We took the Stormtrooper out of the Star Wars universe and gave him a day off. He is mostly to be seen on holiday, barbecuing, carol singing and a lot more. Dressed in the colour of surrender he's a lover not a fighter.
As one of our first licensees, we were lucky to find Thumbs Up - a gift manufacturer with over 2,000 independent retail accounts Their excellent product and packaging design set the tone for the whole licensing programme and their independent retail distribution gave us access to retailers who were selling to real fans who would appreciate the chance to own a product based on the exact same design as the original stormtrooper.
Fast forward 4 years since our appointment in January 2015, and there are now over 30+ licensees in place. Royalties and sales are increasing year on year and the market is beginning to recognise the difference between a toy and an accurate replica of globally recognisable intergenerational character, or as we call him, a GRIC.
Over the past year the Golden Goose team has grown significantly to help support the potential for this long-term licensing programme. Phillippa Green leads the product approvals with characteristically sharp organisational abilities whilst Virginie Sergent and Heiko Lammers are growing the European footprint of this eccentric character with significant sales being generated in France, Spain and Germany.
New developments are in place - we are launching a beer, a pop-up shop, new illustrations - and the programme continues to grow.
Because we mainly focus on corporate brands, this character feels very different to many of our other clients but it's the 15 years we spent earning our stripes in corporate brand licensing that has given us the knowledge, experience and professionalism to manage this very strong and growing licensing programme.