Winners of Licensing Expo’s License This! competition announced

Published on: 27th May 2022

Licensing Expo, the world’s largest trade show connecting the $292 billion global licensing industry, hosted the live finale of the License This! competition yesterday where select illustrators, designers, and animators had the opportunity to pitch their concepts in front of a panel of expert judges. Catoms: Atoms with Attitude, designed by Kieche Meleson O’Connell, was selected as the winner of the Character & Animation category, and Stef “Sharky” Shultz won the Brand & Design category with Hunnie Bumble and Friends.

The two winners of the competition, sponsored by Flowhaven, presented alongside four other fellow finalists to an audience of Licensing Expo registered guests and world-renowned experts in the licensing industry. Each winner takes home a highly regarded grand prize package including:

  • Free-of-charge 100 square foot booth at Licensing Expo 2023 worth $2,500
  • One-year Licensing International membership worth $1,000 for a small business
  • One-year Products of Change membership, worth up to $450 for a small business
  • One-to-one consultation with License This! judges

Details of the winning projects are as follows:

Character & Animation

  • Catoms: Atoms with Attitude – Kieche Meleson O’Connell
    “I took the periodic table and made each element into a cat that represents its unique scientific qualities in the form of coat patterns, superpowers, and personalities,” says Kieche. “The Catoms universe offers fun stories where the characters take you through the mysterious and often invisible world of chemistry but from the Catom’s point of view. Catoms are essentially edutainment. The characters and stories are engaging but based on scientific fact, so they are indirectly teaching real science.”

Brand & Design

  • Hunnie Bumble and Friends – Stef “Sharky” Schultz
    “Hunnie Bumble is a whimsical queen bee who lives in a colourful world comfortably far from our own reality – along with her husband “Hubbie Bumble” and all of their friends,” says Stef. “Buzzing with adorable antics, absurdly zany humour, and with new friends being introduced all the time, Hunnie Bumble and Friends will always keep it cute, adventurous and zany on the countless adventures to be had – from cooking and hide-and-go-seek, all the way to skydiving, rock climbing, spelunking… and whatever else they feel like in the next five minutes!”

“Congratulations to our winners,” said Anna Knight, SVP of the Global Licensing Group, organisers of Licensing Expo. “It’s new creators and out-of-the-box thinkers like Kieche and Stef that keep our dynamic industry fresh and imaginative. Each of the finalists brought amazing ideas to the table and will be the next IPs to watch over the coming years.”

The judging panel consisted of nine senior executives representing industry-leading brands: License Global magazine, Flowhaven, Licensing International, Global Licensing Advisors, Boat Rocker Studio, PowerStation Studios, Redbubble, Lisa Mark Associates, and Product Counsel. Following each on-stage presentation, judges asked questions and shared actionable feedback to help the designers, animators, and creators hone their designs and ideas as they bring products to market. Feedback spanned how to pin down their core audience to working with retailers.

“I am speechless,” said Kieche Meleson O’Connell of her win. “I was not expecting it, to be honest; I am a chemist by trade and have been trying to switch into this creative world. When I first came to Licensing Expo, even though I was super excited, I did feel like a fish out of water, so it’s nice to see that people recognise Catoms: Atoms with Attitude as a good project.”

“I’m so incredibly honoured to win – it was a pleasure and such a great opportunity,” said Stef “Sharky” Schultz. “I’m very thankful and want to use this brand to bring change to the world. There’s a niche that Hunnie Bunnie and Friends supports, bringing awareness to how we recycle and that there is such a division in care. I want everyone to have access to good things; I want people to have opportunities to have access to and afford sustainable things and drive up the demand for sustainable recycled materials. Hunnie Bunnie and Friends is this catalyst!”

Other finalists in the License This! competition who presented on-stage at Licensing Expo include:

Character & Animation

  • I want to be a baller-ina – Finalist Cherie Mays
  • Sunny The Apathetic Bunny – Finalist Claire Schechinger

Brand & Design

  • Game Toy – Finalist Alexandre Silva
  • Monsters & Martians – Finalist Ken Reil



Crunchyroll teams up with Jazwares on anime collectibles portfolio

Hasbro invites fans aboard Peppa Pig Cruise Special

Fresh Del Monte partners with Zag Heroes Miraculous

The June issue of Toy World is out now, with a Licensing focus

Hollie Holmes joins Moose as VP Global Licensing

Networking event BrandMate returns for second year

Bluey licensing programme launches in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Rainbow Productions adds new characters to portfolio

Toikido appoints Johnny Taylor as new chief creative officer

SpongeBob gets the Lush treatment thanks to new collaboration