People Profile: Guillem Rey, Managing Director at Caravanserai
The global licensing community is powered by an incredible group of professionals whose diverse backgrounds and creative energy drive innovation and excellence. Each week we’re profiling one of these professionals in this ongoing series.
How did you get into licensing (or how did licensing find you)?
I studied engineering and design, not really expecting to work in this field. However, my father, a veteran in licensing, was leading a licensing agency since I was a kid, so this world was not unknown to me and I could experience and enjoy having great licensed products at home. Growing up with the Teletubbies, Dragon Ball, Star Wars, or Ninja Turtles at home was great! Years later, I started in this family company as a junior designer. It was expected to be a summer job but I’m still in this business today.
What’s a “typical” day in your current position?
I’m leading Caravanserai, a small licensing agency, so we are all really multitasking and dealing with all the stakeholders in the licensing business. I deal with licensors all over the world and all of the paperwork that represents, including agreement drafting, royalty reports, and marketing plans.
What’s your biggest personal or professional accomplishment?
Born and raised in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to move to Paris for three years in order to set up a new office and establish the family company in a whole new territory. It was a new country, new language, new environment, new way of thinking, lots of challenges, and great fun. It was definitely a life-changing experience both personally and professionally, and I would recommend it to everybody.
What are the most significant trends or changes that you’ve seen in the business in recent years?
I would say that licensing may be more democratic nowadays. I mean, not many years ago the licensing industry was focused on no more than 10 properties all over the world and they were mainly managed by big companies. Today, we may have hundreds of properties on shelves and, thanks to social media and other platforms, you can create and even succeed with an awesome IP with nothing more than your personal computer! The business is more fragmented, but the opportunities for everyone are there if you are able to reach your final consumer.
What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest challenge these days?
This is a second-generation family business, so I’m always trying to find out what is going to be next in the licensing industry and being able to catch it at the right time! Chasing payments also keeps me up at night.
In your opinion, what is the top skill every licensing executive should have in order to succeed?
Open eyes! Open eyes to catch trends and needs at schools, at the office, in stores, at home, or at the licensing shows. Open eyes to look at your competitors as well as open eyes to find licensees, manufacturers, brand owners, and opportunities in your business time but also in your daily routines out of the office. We always say that every product or service can have a license on it, but you need to choose the right one. Don’t close your eyes or you can lose the opportunity!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or what’s your favorite quote?
“Força, equilibri, valor i seny,” which more or less translates to strength, balance, courage, and common sense. This is the motto for the Catalan tradition Castellers (or human towers) in which all of these values are necessary to build very tall human constructions with hundreds of people all coordinated. I think these values are just as necessary in business and life!
What is your favorite licensing deal of all time? (It doesn’t have to be one that was signed by you.)
While in Paris, our design team had the idea of mixing a very iconic perfume image, like the sailor made famous by fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, with one of our beloved properties Popeye. We did a great team effort in both design and commercial fields, so I’m very proud to have led a worldwide deal for Jean Paul Gaultier perfumes featuring Popeye and also Betty Boop. It was great seeing the product in all the big department stores, airport stores, fashion magazines, and POS all over the place.
If you weren’t in licensing, what would you be doing now?
That’s a hard question after more than 15 years in this world, but I assume I would be somewhere around the engineering or photography worlds as they were the focus of my studies and my hobby, respectively.
The last licensed product I bought was…
A very nice LEGO Star Wars set to build together with my son. A great example of what George Lucas and Ole Kirk Christiansen started a long time ago! Two one-of-a-kind visionaries and pioneers in the toy and licensing industry.