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People Profile: Liz Wain, President & Founder of Wain’s World image

People Profile: Liz Wain, President & Founder of Wain’s World

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 profile one of these professionals in this ongoing series.

How did you get into licensing (or how did licensing find you)?
I began my career as a designer and manufacturer of couture bed, bath, and table linens that sold internationally at high end retailers like Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman. Retailers started to knock on my door interested in licensing my brand. A colleague introduced me to a licensing agent and, soon after, Liz Wain-branded products found their way to the shelves of specialty and mass retailers.

Then, I traveled the world leading creative teams that developed products for some of the world’s largest licensed brands. This is where I learned a different side of big brands like Disney, Martha Stewart, and Ty Pennington. A 15-year wild ride learning on the go every day!

Later, artist brands I had befriended along the way began asking me to represent them. I am blessed to have found the perfect platform to bring together the knowledge and experiences developed throughout my career. I could not have planned things any better if I had tried.

What’s a “typical” day in your current position?
I spend a large portion of my week working directly with the artists our agency represents, helping them to hone their work creating collections of designs that our licensees seek. The balance of my week is divided between working with our licensee partners and administrative chores to keep the agency running smoothly.

I have recently given myself a new title, which is QOP—Queen of Pivot. In our line of work, we are makers of magic having to continually re-prioritize and juggle to help our licensors and licensees meet retailer deadlines.

What’s your biggest personal or professional accomplishment?
My professional career has been a robust and fulfilling journey with so many amazing opportunities and achievements along the way. I am particularly proud of leading the start-up initiative for the Thomas Kinkade Collection of Fine Jewelry. A textile designer by trade, this was something very different from any project that I had undertaken before. It was exciting to learn new materials and create a jewelry enterprise for Kinkade.

What are the most significant trends or changes that you’ve seen in the business in recent years?
Everything happens so fast these days! It’s critical to be nimble and flexible.

What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest challenge these days?
As our agency grows, I am always looking for new and fresh creative talent. Our clients rely upon us to find the next great “thing.” In a sea of same, this is truly my biggest challenge.

In your opinion, what is the top skill every licensing executive should have in order to succeed?
The ability to build and nurture enduing relationships. I am a people person and like to stay in touch with people over the years. Deals come and go, but the personal relationships that develop have become the glue that keeps us all in the game.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or what’s your favorite quote?
Never say Never. Back in 2012, I told a colleague offering me a job that I would never be a licensing agent. HA! Look what happened.

What is your favorite licensing deal of all time? (It doesn’t have to be one that was signed by you.)
I was so excited when Susan Seid bought the Vera design library. I do not know if much happened at the time, but Vera Neumann’s design library is a treasure trove. More recently, Vera’s signature style has made its way back to Target and other retailers. It’s always fun to see her work revisited!

If you weren’t in licensing, what would you be doing now?
I would be a landscape architect. When I have a couple of free hours, I love getting my hands in the dirt, transplanting plant material and redesigning our yard each year as the landscape changes.

The last licensed product I bought was…
The John Derian x Target Thanksgiving plater as a hostess gift for my sister-in-law.

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