Indie Uncovered | UK artist Meg Hawkins strikes staycation success in SDL Imports gifting partnership

The UK artist and talent behind her self-titled design brand, Meg Hawkins has secured her latest licensing partnership in the gifts and lifestyle sector, teaming with SDL Imports to launch a selection of wooden homeware items.

The deal sees a collection of some of Hawkins’ most popular artworks feature across a portfolio of SDL wooden items, spanning coat hooks, boxes, and key boxes, joining a line up of already established footstools and further household and lifestyle items.

The SDL Imports Natural World by Meg Hawkins collection has been the focus of a long process of product development and a partnership that originally kicked off in January 2020, when the SDL Imports team first discovered Meg Hawkins’ art brand at Exeter’s Giving & Living Trade Show. 

While partnerships were quickly formed and contracts swiftly signed, the pandemic – and knock-on effects from the Suez Canal blockage and subsequent issues around shipping – hampered plans to launch product to consumers until only recently. However, the team have since been encouraged by a strong positive reception from customers and the public alike, with repeat orders across the range already being placed.

“We are absolutely delighted with our new Natural World by Meg Hawkins range. Meg’s designs look wonderful on our products,” said Diana Leadbetter of SDL Imports. 

“We have had a very positive response to this new range. We only received the stock three weeks ago and one line is already 50 per cent sold and many others over 25 per cent sold. Given that our customers have largely been unable to see and touch the products before buying them, that is very encouraging.”

SDL Importants has been supplying the tourist industry with giftware since the 1950s. Its partnership with Meg Hawkins focuses on the artist’s UK wildlife and animals collection, tapping into UK tourist attractions with a range that has proved particularly popular with buyers and retailers based in seaside towns and UK coastal holiday destinations.

The SDL Imports team has found that, while the pandemic hampered plans for the range initially, the resultant influx of holiday makers staying within the UK this year, and heading to coastal holiday hotspots, has helped boost sales.

“The increase in staycations has resulted in an extension to the normal UK coastal holidays into late autumn,” continued Leadbetter. “Last year, it was all going well until the November lockdown was announced. This year, as soon as holiday accommodation and restaurants were able to open, everywhere became busy quickly.

“The resultant influx into the traditional tourist towns of people tired of months of lockdown and not being able to visit shops has resulted in increased sales, with some of our customers advising having experienced their best weeks trading ever over the May half term.”

A brand centered around watercolour artwork and photography, the Meg Hawkins brand has been featured on a vast portfolio of products, from greetings cards to footstools, and within five years the brand has advanced form the kitchen table to being sold worldwide.

Hawkins has previously secured licensing agreements with the likes of Widdop and Bingham,, a fudge range from Gardeniers of Scotland, and 2022 notes cards with the RNLI.

“From the minute I met Diana and Mike Leadbetter at SDL Imports, we hit it off straight away,” said Hawkins. “Communication is key and we seem to be able to go with the flow. I am really pleased the collection has been selling well for them.

“We are a young company and extending our ranges through licensing enables us to gather a larger product range and most importantly, brand awareness. Our goal to be a recognised household brand is showing a glimmer of light, and hopefully all the hard work will pay off.”

Hawkins now plans to see the brand extend across other categories including stationery, as well as further homeware offerings such as bedding and soft furnishings.

“We have just launched a children’s range under Little Joe & Co which has proven really popular. We’re looking for someone to license the images for toys and baby clothes and other children’s products.”