The Many Benefits of Licensing Your Hit Idea to a Market Leader

The inventor of the GoGo Gift Bag explains how her relationship with her licensee just keeps getting better.

Erin Borges CREDIT: Erin Borges

Most of us are struck with ideas for new products, at least from time to time. Far fewer of us take action.

For example, have you struggled to stuff tissue paper into a gift bag so that it looked beautiful and elegant, instead of mangled and crinkled?

The better question is, who hasn’t? But I know of just one entrepreneur who decided to do something about it.

In the fall of 2015, Erin Borges decided enough was enough. She was determined to invent a better gift bag — one that was more convenient, affordable, and prettier.

In an email, the mom from Monterey, California described the experience that motivated her to take action.

“As I exited the store and drove off to the party, I hassled with my gift bag as it slumped and sagged and repositioned itself. I arrived late with a $10 gift, $10 gift bag, tons of excess tissue paper in my car, and a chip on my shoulder.”

She thought her gift looked awful. It was expensive and wasteful, too. At the party, she observed that other gift bags didn’t look much better.

In less than two years, Borges transformed her frustration into a product that retailed at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cost Plus, Cracker Barrel, and on Amazon this holiday season. How? By licensing her improved gift bag — which features scalloped tissue paper built in — to the global design powerhouse IG Design Group. The tissue paper in her GoGo Gift Bags is easily ‘bloomed’ for an attractive appearance.

Brilliant. Reviews on Amazon highlight the many benefits of this simple idea.

“I could never get the tissue paper this perfect on my own.”

“Costs less too. No brainer!”

“Wrap is attached, no need to buy anything else!!!”

Her success illustrates the many benefits of partnering with a market leader when you have a hit on your hands. For example, speed to market and shelf space. Another? Line extensions. Earlier this year, professional sports-themed GoGo Gift Bags hit the market as a result of her licensee’s existing relationships. Her licensee has also helped her address copycats and knockoffs.

Borges holds up her end of their partnership, and then some. She’s a very savvy user of social media. On her Facebook page, satisfied customers regularly tag her in posts expressing their joy and appreciation. She runs contests, generously supports other entrepreneurs, and expresses her gratitude openly. It’s no wonder others want to champion her. She’s also garnered major press, including from The Today Show.

I reached out to Borges, who I interviewed last year, to follow up about her licensing deal.

How has the rollout this year been compared to last? What if anything did you do differently? 

This year’s rollout was seamless and expansive. Unlike last year, GoGo Gift Bags had additional placement at the checkout lanes at Target, in addition to secondary placement in their seasonal Wondershop. We also increased our online presence with Amazon! So many consumers use online shopping — sometimes exclusively — to purchase their holiday gifts, so we’re now reaching those same consumers with the GoGo.

Last year was a first for many consumers to use a GoGo Gift Bag, and this year they recognized the brand name and product benefits. We saw sales hit as soon as GoGo bags were available in stores and online in November.

Are GoGo Gift Bags available throughout the year?

Many of our programs are seasonally based, so we were excited about the expanded retail presence this year. We also have retail placement year-round at gift and specialty retailers and select professional sports team shops around the nation. Amazon has provided us with another fantastic sales outlet in order to reach those consumers that prefer online shopping. What’s great overall is that we have GoGo Gift Bags across multiple brands within IG Design Group, including LANG, The Gift Wrap Company, Turner Sports and IG, allowing an extensive GoGo Gift Bag assortment.

How did your collaboration with Rafael Mantesso/Jimmy the Bull come about? Those are some very cute bags.

The GoGo Gift Bag partnership with Jimmy the Bull was an expansion of the collaboration LANG already has with Rafael. They have a whole Jimmy the Bull product line, and it was a great fit for us to fold the GoGo Gift Bags into this collaboration.

The professional sports-themed bags are also fantastic. How did those work out?

The sports-themed GoGo Gift Bags are also an expansion of the collaboration with Turner, one of the LANG Company’s primary brands. They have an existing, comprehensive professional sports and collegiate product offering. In a similar fashion to Jimmy the Bull, it was a natural fit for us to fold the GoGo Gift Bags into sports. Turner leveraged existing relationships with their dated goods license to expand into the gift bag category.

We are really excited about the sports-themed GoGo Gift Bags, which launched in the third quarter of 2018. With these being new to market, we are looking forward to continued market placement.

What is your relationship with your licensee like?

I am in close contact with my licensee. We have a great working relationship that has evolved into more than just a partnership… more of a friendship. I’ve mentioned it on social media how much they mean to me. They helped bring my dreams to life! I approach business much in the same manner as any other relationship: It has to be mutually beneficial and with open communication. I have that with IG Design Group, and it’s one of the reasons I chose them over anyone else for my licensing partnership.

Have you had to deal with copycats or knockoffs? How?

The GoGo Gift Bag intellectual property is strong with several patents, and my partnership with IG Design Group provides me with the means to back it! Though we have noticed that some competitors have simply styled and propped their bags with tissue that appears to mimic the look of a GoGo Gift Bag, this styling is only for photography purposes and isn’t what the consumer actually receives. Styling a gift bag is something consumers don’t want to have to do, as it’s a hassle! Part of what makes GoGo Gift Bag so special is that it styles itself and is still the only gift bag that does.

It will forever be the original!

What are your plans for 2019?

Our plan for 2019 is continuous new product/artwork launches and distribution expansion. Many of the retail buyers are meeting with us now to discuss placement for other occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. We are looking forward to a great year! 

I’m sorry your health isn’t so good. What is giving you the strength and support to carry on with the hustling required of entrepreneurs? 

I think it’s in my blood to hustle so losing the vision in my left eye this year has only made my view on business and life that much clearer. I’ll always have a vision for GoGo Gift Bag, and that vision is what keeps me driven, even when life throws an unexpected curveball. It’s about staying consistent.