Glue Creative Thinking: “There’s always been room for a design-led brand in the pre-school space”

Glue Creative Thinking refers to itself as a ‘David sized team working with a portfolio of Goliaths’ in its role as brand extension and licensing agency that has seen it not only carve out projects for the likes of BBC Studios’ own London Fashion Week activity, and managing MTV’s Music Meets Fashion competition, but help bring the likes of The Natural History Museum or Tatty Devine into the homeware, fashion, stationery, and accessories sectors in just a few short years.

The outfit, which started out under the guidance of its founder and director Carla Bowden six years ago, recently made the industry headlines for its latest partnership with the fledgling children’s brand Lemon Ribbon and its plans to build out the branding and consumer product programme across the UK’s children’s sector. catches up with the team at Glue Creative Thinking to explore the potential for the lifestyle brand, the company’s successes in the licensing business, and what the future holds for the space from here on out.

Hello team! To start, can you tell us about Glue Creative Thinking? Who’s in the team, how long have you guys been in the licensing business, and what does Glue Creative bring to the licensing space?

Glue Creative Thinking is a brand collaborations and licensing agency built of a team of creative yet commercially aware individuals. Carla Bowden, founder and director, started the go-to agency six years ago after 20 years of experience of licensing, fashion and retail with Blu-chip names such as Disney, Boots and Habitat. She sourced; Jess Brown, account director, due to her experience and knowledge within the licensing and buying arenas from her time at Nickelodeon, Warner Bros and Disney, Saskia Anderson Harper, project and account manager, for her fashion knowledge, and Martin Williamson, designer and office manager to ensure the team is well equipped to deliver above expectations.

With a clear understanding of entertainment, fashion and licensing industries, the team can bring them all together momentously with ease.

Can you talk us through the Glue Creative Thinking portfolio? Who are you guys working with and what makes a brand/client a perfect fit for you?

We’ve worked on some incredible projects with globally influential entertainment names that we’re really proud of, including; launching BBC Studio’s #SustainableMe Halo activity at London Fashion Week and mapping out the brand collaborations and licensing strategy to follow. Most recently we’re managing MTV’s ‘Music Meets Fashion Competition’ with ViacomCBS; a global student competition in collaboration with the British Fashion Council, River Island and designer, ICEBERG.

Through our licensing arm, we’ve brought iconic names such as The Natural History Museum, Tatty Devine and Barbara Hulanicki (the founder of Biba) into the world of Homeware, Fashion, Stationery and Accessories.

We are a David sized team that works as an extension to these Goliath names, helping them weave the market and innovatively adapt to propel their message forward.

 Focusing on the recent announcement around your plans for the Lemon Ribbon brand, what attracted you guys to the children’s lifestyle space? What are your plans for the brand? 

We first discovered the Lemon Ribbon brand about three years ago and have been actively talking to the team for about two years. As soon as we saw the brand the whole team fell in love with it. We were instantly drawn to the design aesthetic with its playfully bright and bold colour palette and the fun and engaging characters.

We have worked with the team at Lemon Ribbon Studio to build a three-year strategy to kick start the licensing journey for the brand here in the UK. Initially we are planning to launch with brands collaborations across lifestyle categories including Apparel, Homewares, Stationery and Gifting, and we will look to complement this with a master toy licensee. From there we will be building a core licensing programme across all categories as we move into years two and three.

As the brand continues to evolve there will also be animation by Cloth Cat Animation coming through as part of the new content pipeline and as this develops, we will incorporate this into the brand’s consumer product strategy.

Why is now the right time to be developing the Lemon Ribbon licensing programme? Do you think ‘lockdown life’ has underscored the value in the children’s market/lifestyle space?

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic we felt there was room for a new design-led brand in the pre-school market, one like Lemon Ribbon, which could resonate with children and parents alike and the lockdown has definitely amplified this.

Lemon Ribbon has the great ability to engage and inspire families. Now more than ever we appreciate how important it is to enrich pre-schoolers minds and this is supported by the science which tells us 90 per cent of a child’s brain development happens before the age of five. Through their refreshing, inclusive and joyous characters Lemon Ribbon will captivate children’s imaginations and ultimately, we want to bring these characters to life through the range of consumer products we are aspiring to create through a program of brand collaborations and licensees.

The team at Lemon Ribbon have already embraced the principle of play led educational content in their current partnership with ‘Imagine That Publishing’ who have produced 10 books utilising their characters and unique design aesthetic. However, we are now actively looking to build on this, and we are starting the process of talking with new publishing partners.

How has business been for Glue Creative Thinking over the past few months? How has the current situation influenced or impacted upon the licensing strategies you look at?

Fortunately for Glue, we’ve always been a remote, global team so there wasn’t much of an adjustment period when lockdowns occurred and due to our knowledge and size, we were able to act fast on the changing needs of our clients and their consumers.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the market; on which industries and brands are leaving this period stronger than before as well as which trends and innovations are working in this elevation of digital importance.

What do you think the future of licensing will look like as we emerge from this pandemic?

We’re incredibly optimistic for the future of the licensing industry and how we, as an industry, can provide consumers with what they’re looking for.

Working with influential brands we look to bring nostalgia to the public with innovative and engaging experiences, both physical and digital, especially now when igniting memorable connection is more important than ever.

The landscape is changing, and we’re excited for the new opportunities that digital provides.  We’re especially supportive of the growing desire for sustainability to be at the forefront of the conversation and how the two can support one another’s growth.

 What’s the next big step for you guys?

We’re here to support our clients through this next phase, helping them meet targets and reach consumers authentically, whatever the future may bring.

We’re excited to bring Lemon Ribbon to the wider UK market and are actively looking for partners. The third instalment of the ‘Music Meets Fashion Competition’ launches at London Fashion Week this September, we’ll be releasing some exciting updates, so keep your eyes peeled for that! We’ve also been actively looking ahead to 2021, working on a few different proposals for the gaming and TV worlds; we’ve been, gratefully, very busy!


Kids’ lifestyle brand Lemon Ribbon looks to licensing with Glue Creative Thinking

The children’s lifestyle brand, Lemon Ribbon, has tapped Glue Creative Thinking to expand its consumer awareness and engagement through licensed product and brand collaborations by working with influential children’s brands and licensees that ‘complement the Lemon Ribbon aesthetic.’

The firm, one that started out life designing for major international children’s wear, homeware, stationery and trend companies itself, is looking to plug into home, fashion, toys, animation, publishing, gift, and stationery markets. To do so, it will utilise its bright and bold style as well as its ‘refreshing, inclusive and joyous characters.’

Together Lemon Ribbon and Glue Creative Thinking will look to bring families closer together with the refreshingly creative, fun and educational characters that includes, Lion, Panda, Cat, Bunny, Monster and Croc. With licensed product already available across eleven countries, including USA, Spain, China, Russia and Taiwan with Licensees such as Adalberto, K Stationary and NICI, the cast of characters is awaiting a warm welcome here in the UK.

“The team and I have been keen to work with Glue for some time now,” said Edward Weale, director of Lemon Ribbon. “Though it’s certainly been an unnerving couple of months for all, we’re ready and excited to welcome the wider UK market to the world of Lemon Ribbon. We hope our inclusive, cheerful messaging will enlighten and educate both parent and child.”

Carla Bowden, founder and director of Glue Creative Thinking, added: “We’ve been huge fans of Lemon Ribbon Studio for a while, we are so thrilled and honoured we’re on this journey with them to expand the Lemon Ribbon brand here in the UK. It’s an incredibly relevant brand right now, their creative, cheerful and educational messages are enchanting and uplifting, we can’t wait to see it come to life through product.”

Glue Creative Thinking is actively building the Lemon Ribbon licensed portfolio, starting with a three-year comprehensive strategy.