The BLE Blog

My BLE: 5 mins with Janet Woodward, Director of JELC

Janet Woodward %282%29For nearly 30 years Janet has been successfully developing art & design and brand licensing, as well as running character merchandise programmes. We caught up with her about BLE.

In 2003 Janet co-founded Coolebah, known today as Coolabi, and worked with such household name brands as Purple Ronnie, Hammer Films, Bagpuss and The Clangers before, in 2010, taking on a new challenge as director of JELC Limited alongside Jane Evans. Together they built a successful, independent licensing agency representing a diverse portfolio of clients — from Silentnight to Hinchcliffe & Barber and from Wisdom of Kids to the National Gallery — on a global basis.

How many years have you been attending the show?
I was an exhibitor at the very first BLE when it was held in the Landmark Hotel, then we moved to the Business Design Centre and then Olympia. I can’t remember the exact year of the first show but it was around 1999.

How long do you usually stay for?
As exhibitors we’re there for the duration! Set up day on the Monday and then leave for home on Thursday evening, usually via the Hand and Flower!

What do you remember about your first visit?
It was a very small show with everyone having the same size shell scheme stands. We managed to blag the management of the Landmark into a very cut-price, very luxurious suite on the basis that we needed somewhere to take important clients – it was amazing!

Have your needs changed in terms of what you want from the show?
BLE today is very different to the when it first started but then so is the licensing industry – it’s much more professional – serious business and serious money – you can’t afford to get it wrong.

What do you love most about BLE?
The incredible buzz! The exhibitors are excited from when they first arrive on the Monday in their jeans, hoping the stand design is going to work and they’ve remembered everything – by 9.00 on Tuesday they’re on tenterhooks and desperate to do business.

When I’m at BLE one thing I always do is… Take three pairs of shoes!

What do you do about lunch?
Without usually! We normally have half hour meetings booked back to back for the whole three days – we’re very lucky if we manage to dash off to the loo!

What are you on the hunt for this year?
New licensees and retail buyers, both domestic and international.

What will make it a successful show for you this year?
Signing sufficient new business to make it all worthwhile – it’s the biggest showcase of our year and we have to sign new deals.

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