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Career Expert Interview: Entertainment Licensing Sales Manager

Are you interested in fashion but don’t really want to go the Devil Wear Prada route? That’s okay, there are plenty of other ways to get into the industry that you may not have thought of. One of the jobs where you can get the opportunity to work with fashion everyday is through entertainment licensing.

Jocelyn Torres is a National Account Sales Manager at Bioworld Merchandising. She has been with the company since April 2015, after knowing she always wanted to work in the fashion industry, and is sharing her insight, expertise, and experiences with all of us.

Career Expert Interview: Entertainment Licensing Sales Manager

What exactly is Entertainment Licensing?

Licensing is a huge part of the Fashion Industry. To explain in simple terms, big lifestyle brands will often use other companies to manufacture their goods and give them permission to use their name on their product while taking a certain percentage of the profit (aka a royalty fee).

A good example of this are Designer-brand watches and sunglasses. Fossil licenses most of the watches you see in stores, and Luxottica licenses most branded eyeglasses and sunglasses (ie Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, etc).

What makes Bioworld unique, however, is that we licensed Entertainment Brands and we license them in various categories. Apparel, socks, hats, sleepwear, drinkware, notebooks, slippers are a few of our 10+ categories we manufacture. We license for DC Comics [Batman and Superman], Marvel Comics, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Friends the TV Show, Nickelodeon, along with over 200+ brands in our licensed roster!

What exactly is your role as a Sales Manager?

I’m a National Account Sales Manager and I sell our products to buyers of major retail stores. I’m responsible for selling our product to buyers who will then buy them for their retail stores.

It’s key that a Sales Manager is savvy with what’s trending in order to help assist their buyer on purchasing decisions. You want your product to sell well at stores! As a Sales Manager you also have negotiate a cost that is profitable for both the retailer and the vendor (the company you work for).

Did you always want to get into retail?

I’ve always wanted to have some sort of job in the Fashion Industry. I went to LIM College and graduated in 2009 with a BA in Fashion Merchandising. It took a few years for me to figure out what I wanted to do in this industry, but a few years after graduation, I was determined to get a Sales role.

I feel like I am “a people person” and value making personal connections, which is key for a sales job in this industry. I ultimately found a position available at Bioworld Merchandising in 2015 and have been here for over 5 years!

The job does sound glamorous — would you agree that it is? Is it like Devil wears Prada?

Not at all glamorous! And not like the Devil Wears Prada! (Although I have had past work experience with other another company that was a major women’s fashion brand that had that type of environment. It was not fun and very toxic)! There is a lot of grunt work behind the scenes in a job like this.

Many people assume a sales position is similar to a used car salesman or being like Vana White on Wheel of Fortune where you lay out product on a table and show it off while wearing a pretty outfit, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. Reviewing of selling reports, business planning, following up with internal teams, and making sure that all our product delivers on time to our retailers. There are so many moving parts!

What’s the best part of the job?

The best part for me is knowing that this product brings joy to so many people! Just look at all the attendees that go to Comic Con every year (pre-covid times)! It’s a huge market that people enjoy. Even if someone’s not necessarily a “comic book fan,” there are still products that we make that resonates with someone!

Whether is a t-shirt of your favorite Sponge Bob meme, a “Baby Yoda” hat, Snoopy socks, or a Hello Kitty mug…There’s something for everyone! We reach a huge customer base, which is different than working for a high-end designer brand that caters to a certain customer.

What do you think people would be surprised to find out about the job?

The amount of work that goes into getting product into stores. Whether you’re in WalMart or an Urban Outfitters, each T-shirt table, sock grid, or hat rack takes months and months of planning and negotiating on costs and delivery.

People are also surprised to hear how many companies that are out there that do Entertainment licensing! Whether it’s a Captain America t-shirt, a Mickey Mouse watch, or a Wonder Woman Halloween costume, there is a manufacturer behind that who has a licensing agreement.

In fact, there’s a yearly Tradeshow in Las Vegas called the Licensing Expo which connects Entertainment brands with suppliers who can manufacture their goods. I also had to take a course in just Licensing for college!

What piece of advice do you have for anyone who wants to go into the same field?

For any job in the Fashion Industry, these are the best pieces of advice that I received many times while in college:

  • Always be networking! Whether you’re on the subway or at happy hour, you never know who you can meet that will give you an awesome opportunity! It doesn’t hurt to even create your own business card to better help you networking efforts!
  • Never burn bridges! There’s a reason why we all were assigned group projects in school…to learn how to work with others. In this industry, it’s easy for one to make enemies, but never do because of reason #1. You never know when someone will appear out of no where that can help you out. I’ve personally experienced it. If you’re a go-getter and a team player, many people will take notice and will want to help you be successful then, of course, have to pay it forward once you’re already established!
  • My personal advice also is to not be afraid to seek a mentor. Listen to his/her advice. Being in this industry for over 10 years, I still consult with Senior colleagues to help when I’m in need. I also keep in touch with former co-workers as well that have helped me get to where I’m at today.

Do you have other questions about Entertainment Licensing? Leave them in the comments below!

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts '13 and a Master of Arts '14. She's currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she's not working, she's likely planning her escape to a tropical island.