There are many children’s media companies on the market today and most of these corporations—including the giant Disney—actually had very humble beginnings. Husband and wife team Daryl Slaton and Louise Glickman are hoping that, one day, their company “Tails of Whimsy” will be added to the prestigious list of homegrown successes.
Tails of Whimsy aims to produce quality characters and stories that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Also known as “The Art of Daryl Slaton, LLC,” Tails of Whimsy Storybook Studio was incorporated in November 2014. “We define our business as offering properties targeted to children aged three to thirteen for publishing, animation and product licensing,” explained Louise who handles marketing for the company.
Tails of Whimsy actively researched their business development by first exhibiting at the National Stationery Show in NY in 2012 where a major company licensed Daryl’s illustrations of Halloween and Christmas characters for large dolls and ornaments. Tails of Whimsy also exhibited at Surtex in NY in 2013 where Louise and Daryl learned that Daryl’s cartoons and characters were better suited to books, TV, animation and product development than textile or paper design.
Licensing strategies began in earnest in June 2013 at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Tails of Whimsy properties subsequently built interest and gained traction over three trade show cycles. This year, Tails of Whimsy also exhibited their properties at Book Expo America in New York in order to build more visibility in the publishing industry. Daryl Slaton is rare in the media world since he can work in the styles of both illustration and cartoon. Additionally, as author and illustrator, he creates all the characters and stories which appear in the properties. His rare versatility and creative flexibility make his work attractive to publishers, studios, manufacturers, retailers and agents.
Tails of Whimsy aims to present a new story for publishing and branding each year at Licensing Expo. The idea is to always have something fresh in the pipeline to encourage interest and feedback at each show. Characters and stories are developed and refined on an ongoing basis to meet the needs of project partners. The company is currently focusing on three of its story properties with characters:
• #1: “Scooter and Boots to the Rescue”
This property is intended for publishing, plush toys, animation and games (both physical and virtual) and is aimed at kids and parents interested in animal rescue and care. This brand also includes “Scooter News Network” (SNN), featuring Scooter as a puppet and newscaster. Using live action and animation, SNN includes regular features on animal, health and celebrity news as well as kid-friendly book reviews, cooking and craft projects. First launched as characters in 2013, “Scooter and Boots” in its various formats is currently in discussions with major producers to go live in 2016.
• #2: “The Mighty Machines of Mackie Machines” (M4)
This property is ideal for animation as it introduces endearing characters including mini-bots that build Seussian contraptions that solve problems on land, sea and air. Interest to date focuses on an animated series, publishing and toys. First launched as characters in 2014, Mackie McKeens now includes a fully illustrated 32-page manuscript. Bringing an animation to audiences can take years but Tails of Whimsy believes that with great interest among educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), production on this pilot should begin in 2015.
• #3: “The Book Mytes”
While this story is not quite complete, it was introduced in concept at Licensing Expo and Book Expo America this year. The response was very positive and the story is being polished for publishers and animators in direct response to their interest and feedback. The Book Mytes brings seven cuddly characters to life that “jump off” bookstore shelves and into the hearts of children to reinforce the power of words. Any project of this type takes at least three years to get into the retail marketplace, so watch for The Book Mytes in 2018.
According to Daryl Slaton, the artist and author, “Tails of Whimsy” is blatantly commercial in developing their properties. From inception, stories and characters are conceived with the targeted market in mind. They are designed for brand extension into books, TV, movies and a variety of ancillary products.” Despite this, Tails of Whimsy has a big heart and actively seeks marketing partnerships to benefit non-profits. Of particular interest are animal rescue, rights and conservation as well as children’s literacy and education.
Tails of Whimsy is involved in project research, development and production all year long. In addition, trade show preparation generally takes a full six months (from January to June) for character and story origination, marketing and identifying/scheduling appointments with potential licensees. From July through December the team focuses more on contract negotiations and moving new projects forward including design, story and character development, research and production. Presently, results from the 2015 exhibits indicate substantial traction for Tails of Whimsy with major interest for all three properties. Discussions and negotiations with studios, publishers and other licensees include: books, TV shows, toys/puzzles and games and contracts for special projects.
Beginning in 2015, Tails of Whimsy positioned itself as a “Storybook Studio” that offers a range of services pertaining to content creation, character development, editing services and more. “We have the capacity to build a book from concept through character design and development, writing, editing, illustrating and printing/packaging for clients on a fee-for-service basis,” stated Louise as market strategist.
In addition to the illustration and writing talents of artist Slaton comes Glickman’s talents in marketing and writing. The Storybook Studio team also includes Joe Rhatigan (writing, editing, book packaging) and Beth Sweet (social media). Thus, considering the skills and experience of this creative ensemble, anyone who is struggling to bring their own publishing project to life might consider reaching out to them.
To learn more about Tails of Whimsy visit their official website, Twitter and/or join Scooter and Boots’ over 10,000 fans on Facebook. Additionally, check out Daryl Slaton’s blog.