Licensing: Licensing authority - Having children can be a licensing education

I love my job - it's dynamic, challenging and fast-paced - but I also love being a mother. My company, The Licensing Company (TLC), has been flexible and understanding, both through my pregnancies and now that I am mother of two children.

That understanding could be paying off because child rearing is an education in more ways than one. There's feeding, sleeping and health to learn about, but my three-year old Rachel and nine-month old Abraham are also helping to educate me in what it's like at the consumer end of the licensing business.

What do I mean? Well, even I, as a licensing professional, am amazed at children's brand awareness. It's not just due to stations or strands such as CBeebies and Milkshake, or videos and live shows featuring licensed characters such as Barney or Hi5; it's the other stuff that just seems to filter through. I did not know Rachel had even seen Barbie until she mentioned her to me the other day.

And it's not just the kids. I'm learning from parents who buy, say, Thomas the Tank Engine or Spiderman paperware, and who recommend children's books and videos to each other. I'm seeing the impact licensed products have on them and their kids, but I'm also understanding a bit more about their buying patterns and their motivation to buy. And I'm learning about unexpected promotional outlets: you would not believe how much of a role surgeries, paediatric wards and dentists have in exposing children to toys, books and games.

Even Abraham is educating me: while I'm trundling him around Woolworth's or Mothercare, I study promotions, deals and presentation. Now I have a reason to purchase, I'm becoming more retail-savvy.

I'm also getting a better feel for what's hot among the pre-school generation.

I'm now living in the market as well as trying to make it. And who knows? With Humphrey's Corner (below), Lil' Bratz and The Magic Roundabout on our books, TLC may even benefit from my unexpected "fieldwork".

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