MHS and UNO Branding align to produce Hispanic wares

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MHS and UNO Branding align to produce Hispanic wares

As an advertiser, Luis Fitch is used to seeing his work on television, in brochures and on billboards.

But he could soon find his creations on the shelves of Macy’s or in the Department 56 gift collection, too, thanks to a relationship with Minnetonka-based MHS Licensing, the firm that helped bring Isaac Mizrahi toTarget Corp.

Fitch, who began his career as an artist, is principal and co-founder of Uno, a marketing firm in Minneapolis that specializes in reaching the Hispanic market.

Fitch and MHS are working to create products for the general market and the growing Hispanic market in the United States. The Hispanic market alone is expected to have about 10 percent, or $1 trillion, of U.S. buying power by 2010.

“It’s not just Hispanic people that this appeals to,” said John Haesler, a principal at MHS. “Because of the onslaught of this population, Minnetonka white folks are gravitating toward Hispanic-flavored things, too.”

MHS is a licensing and consulting firm. As a licensing agency, it represents artists, illustrators and owners of trademarks and brands who want to see their properties reproduced on consumer products. As a consultancy, it works with brands and manufacturers (licensees), such as Department 56, to acquire licensed properties.

So far MHS has landed a deal with Minneapolis-based stationery company DGInventive for a line of Latin-style party supplies such as invitations and decorative bags.

Where that particular line will be sold, MHS and Fitch wouldn’t say, but given the licensing company’s track record, it could draw interest from any number of national retailers.

“MHS is really a dominant force in licensing,” said Betty Lyke Urie of Minneapolis-based Lyke Licensing Consulting and president of the Twin Cities Licensing Group.

MHS was founded by Marty Segelbaum in 1995. Its licensees sell their products in places such as Federated Department Stores, Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney.

And of course there’s Target. Haesler, who joined MHS in 2001, spent 12 years at Target as licensing director. When MHS facilitated the agreement between Target and famous clothing designer Isaac Mizrahi, the result was a full rollout of Isaac Mizrahi apparel in all Target Stores in 2003. The company also negotiated and manages the Target Corp. exclusive brand Fred is Red.

While MHS works on both sides of the licensing business, it never represents both the licensor and licensee in the same transaction.

“Most other people in licensing do part of what [MHS does], but they have a full package,” Lyke Urie said.

Fitch won’t necessarily have a line of products branded under his name, but he will have a collection of multipurpose designs that can be used for greeting cards, ornaments, dishes, home decor, etc. The designs are inspired primarily by Mexican culture. Fitch himself is from Mexico and the majority of Latinos living in the United States today are of Mexican descent.

While the partnership is in its infancy, Fitch is encouraged by the interest manufacturers and retailers have shown in his designs and ideas.

“I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities,” Fitch said.

One of his pet projects is a collection inspired by the popular Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It features characters from Mexican folklore that Fitch describes as funny and whimsical, not scary.

“It’s such a beautiful thematic celebration of the dead,” said Fitch. “I’d like to see a nice collection in Target or Kmart. I don’t care w

About the Author:

UNO is a lead branding and design firm dedicated to building brands that connect with the heart of the Cross-cultural and Hispanic consumers.