How to grow your brand through product licensing with Julie Turkel

I am very excited to introduce Julie Turkel! Julie is a product licensing agent, who represents artists, designers, and creative brands. If you have been dreaming of having a collaboration with a big retailer one day, this is for you!

20 years ago, Julie began her own licensing business as an agent, working with designers and artists. As Julie states, “…I just had this feeling that there were a lot of designers and very talented artists who had the potential to create big businesses through this model…”

She certainly was right! Years later Julie has helped countless artists and designers become household names and earn big bucks through collaborating with major retailers.

Is product licensing for everyone?

In a word, no.

One of the things that makes for successful brand collaboration is the ability to be flexible with your work. As Julie says, “… to be successful in this field as an artist, you have to be able to take that leap of faith that there is another company that you are going to partner with. [That company] may have a slightly different interpretation of your brand vision and your art. You have to want to be in business and be able to let go of your favorite pattern or favorite print.”

How to license products as an artist >>

Even if you personally love something, it doesn’t mean that it will be successful in licensing. You have to be willing to detach from your work and make changes. While it can be hard to relinquish complete creative control, it is vital if you want the partnership to succeed.

If you don’t come to the table ready to “collaborate”, there’s a good chance you’re going to get frustrated and things could go south.

What do brands and agents look for in an artist?

That all depends on who you’re partnering with.

For Julie, she looks for artists to represent that have a deeper message and more going on than just artistic talent.

“I look for something more. I look for a real heart, and a soul, and a core.”

How to get licensing deals as an artist >>

Does social media following matter?

As Julie says, “not having a following doesn’t help.”

 “No one’s going to find you if you’re sitting under a rock, even if you’re the most talented person on the planet.”

Someone who is well-known with a really large following can have the advantage of driving more sales, which retailers’ value. But it’s not everything.

It’s more about telling your story, sharing your message and offering value with what you post. Your ability to grow a loyal tribe who stands for something is ultimately more important than your follower count.

Plus, having a tribe to engage with can get you some great information. What products are they asking for? What do they want to purchase? By listening to your audience, you can start to gather the best selling products, and know where to focus.

How to get your artwork licensed >>

Some sure signs you’re ready for a brand collaboration are: 

  • Your followers are asking for products
  • You’ve already been approached about a collaboration by another brand
  • You already have some products that are doing well and you’re ready to take it to the next level 

Patience and persistence.

One of the most valuable lessons Julie has is this: Don’t be discouraged. As creatives, we often face self doubt, and question whether people will like what we’re putting out there. If things don’t happen right away it’s easy to make up excuses and quit.

In licensing, you also need patience and persistence, as it can be a long journey to success. It can be a long road and a long process but there are massive benefits on the other end.

Julie gets into so much more in the full interview so if product licensing and brand collaboration are on your bucket list make sure you watch! She’s a wealth of knowledge and I’m thankful she could take the time to be with us and share her expertise. 

 You can connect with Julie and find out more her work at…

Julie’s Instagram


4 thoughts on “How to grow your brand through product licensing with Julie Turkel”

  1. Jonathan Adler came to my mind, what an amazing interview! I’m building my brand in surface pattern design and licencing is on my radar as a strategy in the future, there’s a lot work to do before that but is so wonderful to be able to learn from her… thank you!

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