Blonde Sheep Licensing’s founder, Natasha Dyson, discusses her long career

Natasha Dyson: why now’s the right time for a Swizzels and Moonpig partnership

Natasha, you’re the founder of Blonde Sheep Licensing. How did that come about? And how did it get its curious name?
I set up Blonde Sheep Licensing in April 2015, just after a trip to Hong Kong. It happened to be the Chinese Year of the Sheep. I wanted a name for the business that reflected me, was memorable, and had an animal as a logo. I’m blonde and Welsh and love all animals, but I knew I had to pick the sheep as my logo. Luckily, I have a good hairdresser to keep me blonde, otherwise I’d have the change the name to White Sheep Licensing.

Ha! It doesn’t sound like it was all part of a grand plan!
A grand plan? No, not really! I’d made the decision to set up my own consultancy because I knew I wanted a bit more flexibility in the way I worked. Setting up my own business was what I needed to do to achieve this! It’s certainly been a lot of hard work, but – at the same time – it’s enabled me to achieve some life goals that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

And before founding Blonde Sheep Licensing, you already had a long history in the industry. Tell us about it…
Yes, you’re right! This year is my 21st Anniversary! My first role in licensing was with The Beanstalk Group. I learnt and experienced a lot during my time there which served as the foundation to my licensing journey. I’m still very close to many of my former colleagues, some of whom are still there. I count them as good friends.

Blonde Sheep Licensing, Natasha Dyson
If it’s your 21st Anniversary, you worked elsewhere too, presumably?

Right. I spent time working at 19 Entertainment, Chapman Entertainment, Coolabi and LiteBulb Licensing before founding Blonde Sheep Licensing and ARTiSTORY. I’m privileged to have worked both agency and client side for large and small organisations across all sectors of licensing, age genres and product categories.

And whom do you count among your clients?
I’ve worked with a mix of clients as both a consultant and agent over the last seven years. I recently started working with Golden Casket for their Millions brand of sweets. With seven different flavours, each connects to a different character… The brand offers a fun and creative solution to develop across multiple categories.

I also continue to work with Swizzels Matlow, the confectionery manufacturer of Love Hearts, Refreshers, Parma Violets and Drumsticks. They’ve been a client for over six years. They’re fantastic to work with. These are instantly recognisable brands; perfect for licensing across multiple product categories.

One thing that caught my eye is the deal between Swizzels and Moonpig. What kind of things are in the range?
Moonpig’s been selling the Love Hearts plush range from Posh Paws since 2020. The plush range is my favourite license as it shows the level of creativity licensees can apply to products. Posh Paws have been very innovative creating products that really stand out, and they continue to expand this successful range.

Blonde Sheep Licensing, Natasha Dyson
Last year, Moonpig took the direct license for greetings cards. They launched in March this year… The license includes multiple occasion cards which are being sold in the UK and Australia.

They look great! How did that come about?
I’d been speaking to Moonpig for some time in relation to the license for greetings cards. However, Posh Paws sold their range in independently. I’ve always felt that Love Hearts is a perfect fit for greetings card as the social messaging is ideal for sentimental occasions. Love Hearts messaging works for almost every occasion: Valentines, Mothers Day, new baby, wedding, anniversary, thanks, get well, good luck, best teacher… And many more!

Right. It’s pretty universal – and instantly recognisable…
Swizzels also allow licensees to adapt the messaging so it can be theme, product or topic relevant. The Posh Paws plush is an excellent example of how the phrases can be adapted.

What else makes the Swizzels brand right for this kind of partnership?
I always think the Swizzels brands are both retro and current, so they have wide appeal. With high-brand awareness among all age groups, licensees get the opportunity to work with established and recognised brands.

Blonde Sheep Licensing, Natasha Dyson
That’s an interesting point. There’s something very nostalgic about the brand despite it still being widely available. With that in mind, why is now the right time for this, Natasha?

Love Hearts have been spreading love for almost 70 years. The products – whether sweets or licensed products – share happiness and positivity through their messaging. With mental health and wellbeing being at the forefront of people’s minds, there couldn’t be a better time to launch products that show people you care.

Are there any other areas you’d like to take the brand into?
Absolutely! We’re looking to expand in food, gift, apparel and accessories, social greetings and experiential.

Great stuff! So if anyone’s interested, they should reach out to you… We need to wrap this up, Natasha, but finally: what’s the one question I could’ve asked you today but didn’t?
What are the future plans for Blonde Sheep Licensing?

Perfect! What’s the answer?
In addition to continuing to develop Millions and the Swizzels brands, we’re looking to take on some new clients. We have conversations underway but will be dedicating some time to growing Blonde Sheep’s client portfolio over the next few months.

Fantastic! Please do come back and have a conversation with us about that… Thanks, Natasha.

Blonde Sheep Licensing, Natasha Dyson

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