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Will Stewart, founder of The Point.1888, on growing the company – and launching a marketing agency.
Hi Will, thanks for joining us. So… The Point.1888 just turned seven! Congratulations. Can you tell us how the company came about?
I’d always wanted to start a business, just like my great, great grandfather had in 1888… And as I’d seen my dad running that business four generations later.
You were that inspired by the family?!
Right! And when I used to go to work with dad, I loved that he had his own office! I was always considered a trouble maker in my corporate life because I like to change things all the time – something my team love, obviously – and I wasn’t good at following orders. So destiny called and once I overcame the fear, I jumped off the cliff and worked out the landing on the way down.
You do strike me as that kind of person! What did you do before The Point.1888?
I’d worked in retail for 15 years, and loved developing product ranges with brands. In fact, I’d created a retail-led licensing deal while I was in buying at John Lewis. Despite buying thousands of licensed products over the years, I didn’t actually know what licensing was…
You hadn’t looked at it from the other side?
Exactly. Then, when a headhunter asked if I wanted to work with incredible brands and people everyday, I said yes. Once I understood licensing, it was like seeing The Matrix for the first time – and I was immediately hooked. I spent three years at The Licensing Company before setting up The Point.1888.
Looking at the past seven years, then, how would you say the agency’s grown?
As anyone who’s grown a business knows it’s a crazy rollercoaster. Measuring growth can be covered through four key metrics: first, people – the team, both in terms of quality and quantity. Second, the premises – the environment you work from…
“Measuring growth can be covered through four key metrics…”
Third, portfolio – your clients, customers… And fourth: profit and revenue. Well, it’s been far from smooth but we’ve consistently grown all these metrics. Today we have a phenomenal team of the best 28 humans changing the world for the better. People is the key one for me.
People are key, but you also speak about your company’s USP… What is it? And in what ways does it inform or steer the rest of the team?
We focus on retail first, strategic brand licensing. We spend time with retail buyers identifying gaps in their ranges, or problems they have – and then solve them by partnering them with a brand. We reverse the traditional licensing process, and tie true purpose to everything we do.
So those that don’t know The Point.1888, can you tell us about some of the brands you represent?
We work with brands from all sectors because variety is the spice of life. In entertainment we work with Moomin, The Raccoons and Moonbug – Cocomelon, Little Baby Bum, Blippi, Morphle. In sport, Williams F1, Team GB, St Andrews links and The British & Irish Lions…
The rugby team?
The rugby team, yes! In brand and lifestyle, there’s Mumsnet, Samaritans and Barratt who make the classic sweets: Wham, Fruit Salad, Black Jack and Refreshers. Then, in publishing: Tom Gates, Percy the Park Keeper. In music heritage; Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, University of Cambridge, The Official Chart Company. We also have an art and design division representing MissPrint, Jimbobart, I Like Birds, and Rachel Ellen.
What unites them all? What do you look for in the brands you seek to represent?
We like ambitious brands with true purpose. And nice, kind, friendly people to work with.
“We like ambitious brands with true purpose. And nice, kind, friendly people to work with.”
How did you and the team celebrate the company’s seventh birthday?
We had a team trip to The Point in Blackheath, South East London – our spiritual home – and then had a party in the Fungalow. It was the first time we had our full team together after a big year of growth in the team, and they were special days.
I understand The Point.1888 has also launched its own marketing agency, Story.1888. Tell us about that; what’s the thinking?
The licensing industry delivers the most beautiful partnerships and it’s so much work to get right. Great licensing isn’t quick or easy, yet one area where I think we need to be better is telling the story behind the partnership. Story.1888 does exactly that. We also get approached by brands who don’t necessarily want a full service partnership, so Story.1888 allows us to support them across different areas of marketing strategy.
Great stuff! And to wrap things up, Will, let me ask you this… What’s the one question I haven’t asked you that perhaps I should’ve?
You could ask me, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in seven years?”
And what would be the answer?
Time is more valuable than money.
Very profound! Will, thank you so much for making time. I’ll put a link in at the end so people can check things out at thepoint1888.com.
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