A Lot to Be happi About

Last year was a banner one for Dena Designs. Overall retail sales to date for the brand topped $380 million worldwide, and it now counts 30 licensees on its roster.

The art brand also signed a number of deals across the globe. In Australia, Dena's partner, Grant Studios is moving stationery and paper products in Kmart and Spotlight stores. Recent success on QVC teams Dena and Imagine That Designs' scrapbook products with an expanded program on QVC U.K. as well as in the U.S. for 2009.

In the U.S., Dena product from Hallmark subsidiary Sunrise Greetings can be found at Barnes & Noble, Kohl's and JCPenney. Publications International reported record stationery sales in 2008 with Dena, a craft line with Ellison and Sizzix continues to move product with repeat end-cap promotions at Jo-Ann stores, and Dena's Fabric Tradition's product line is a mainstay at Jo-Ann and Walmart.

"Dena visualizes design from the drafting table to the retail shelves, and Dena's studio is a great licensing business partner. They design products and packaging for manufacturers and retail partners, saving valuable production time and money," says Alex Meisel, licensing agent for Dena Designs.

Two of the newest deals signed in April are with CR Gibson for stationery, photo albums and social books, as well as with Checks in the Mail for bank checks and personalized stationery.

For 2010, Dena Fishbein, the founder and artist behind Dena Designs, is setting her sights on infant and kids apparel, tween gifts and home décor.

Fishbein's newest program, happi by Dena, is a combination of vibrant colors with a geometric Asian influence and uplifting prints and is the priority for this year's Surtex and Licensing International Expo. New categories in the line include fashion accessories and toys. Deals already signed for happi include the U.S. Postal Service for a line of contemporary mailing envelopes, boxes and labels this spring and Westminster Fibers with a collection of happi-inspired fabrics to serve as the foundation for fashions and lifestyle products to complement the home. Peking Handicrafts' happi by Dena Lifestyle Catalogue will include fabric-based product and serveware. The line will have more than 120 SKUs and is projected to launch in January 2010.

Earlier on, Fishbein trained as an industrial artist and originally thought about being a landscape architect, a perspective that helps her in her licensing work. "I think in three dimensions to create an entertaining environment and see how product can fit into a lifestyle," says Fishbein. From the drafting table to the retail shelf, Fishbein remains involved in the product. "It's all about the detail," she says.