We’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments lately like, “Why don’t you bring back your nativity scene?” Or “You should make your dishes (cookie jars, dolls, etc.) again.”
I thought I should explain what exactly it is that we do here at Mary Engelbreit Studios. We don’t manufacture anything. I draw pictures, and then we hope ( and make a million phone calls and presentations) and wish and pray that some company will decide to license my artwork to put on their product.
Believe me, we would like nothing more than to have our designs on every product imaginable, like we used to! But things have changed, as they inevitably do. Now most companies only want to license if they have a retailer already lined up to carry it. And retailers only seem to want things that people have seen on their favorite TV shows or in movies. This is why you are able to find all kinds of Swamp People and Twilight merchandise (lucky you!), but very little of mine in any of the big retailers.
I, of course, think the retailers are being extremely shortsighted about this, and are ignoring a HUGE base of shoppers— like yourselves—- but I have no control over the situation. Neither do any of the other fabulous artists who are trying to license their work. And trust me, we are all missing out on what would be truly amazing products, if the retailers and manufacturers would just open their minds a little bit, and realize most people are smarter and have more sophisticated taste than popular TV shows would indicate.
I also believe people have longer attention spans than stores give you credit for. Leave product on the shelves longer than 4 weeks, for crying out loud! (Although, giving credit where credit is due, Target has done that with the wonderful Rachel Ashwell and Dwell Studio). Let artists build a following. Thanks to all of you, I’ve been around for 35 years, but believe it or not, in our “Whats new? What’s new? What’s new?” culture, that is seen as a detriment by the big retailers.
The other sad side of this is that there are many fewer small gift stores than there used to be, because of the competition from the big box stores and because of the economy. This makes manufacturers leery of producing anything they don’t already have a commitment for, since the small “mom and pop” stores tend to come and go quickly.
For the second act of my career, I’d love to get into manufacturing and produce all the things you and I both want to see in the stores! But that’s a whole different business. Right now, we still have lots of new products coming out all the time, and we’ll certainly keep you posted as to when and where you can buy them. But if one day you wake up and think, ” I’d sure like to start some kind of manufacturing business”, give me a call. My mind is always open!