Liz DeSilva and Derrick Baca, Senior Vice Presidents of Creative, Innovation and Vision at Loungefly
Beginning in a small Southern Californian warehouse in 1998, pop culture fashion brand Loungefly has grown to become a premium franchise-focused collection of backpacks, handbags, shoulder bags, wallets, card holders, and other accessories. The brand was acquired by Funko in 2017 to expand its already diverse product range – and since then it has gone from strength to strength.
Loungefly primarily known for the company’s innovative licensed accessories – including Disney, Hello Kitty, Harry Potter, Pokémon, Marvel, Star Wars, Peanuts, and more – the brand’s central ethos is that they know everyone is a fan of something; and they have something for everyone. From casual fans to major collectors, the brand’s mission is to provide their ever-growing loyal community with innovative and whimsical designs that allow the wearer to express whatever fandom they’re a part of, in everyday wardrobe.
Leading the way with this pop-culture revolution are Loungefly Executives Liz DeSilva, Derrick Baca,who together are co-Senior Vice Presidents of Creative Innovation and Vision. Here they chat with Hinton Magazine about how they live and breath the Loungefly brand and how that helps them take things to the next level.
This month at Hinton Magazine we go inside a global business to learn more about its success. We sat down with Liz DeSilva and Derrick Baca, Senior Vice Presidents of Creative, Innovation and Vision at Loungefly where we speak about inspiration, creation and of course whats to come for the future.
Could you tell those reading this interview who and what Loungefly is?
Loungefly is an inclusive lifestyle brand that is fan-focused and allows fans to display their fandoms through coordinated accessories, apparel and more!
Liz and Derrick, you are the Senior Vice Presidents of Creative Innovation and Vision. Could you elaborate on what your role entails?
Throughout the past four years, we’ve worn different hats. Liz has always managed the creative team and Derrick has headed up Sales and Merchandising. When it came to the creative process, we’ve always done it together. As we go forward, our Chief Creative Officer Brian Mariotti, wanted us to get rid of various distractions to focus our creative vision for the future of the brand. In order to do this, Funko has dedicated to build our infrastructure to support our amazing business!
Loungefly is known for making some incredibly unique style bags - how long are the design processes when creating new ones?
Our creative process is really a part of life for us and our teams. We all live as pop culture fans. So, we are always ideating programs. If we are to get technical about the process, we work about 12 to 15 months in advance. This is a coordinated effort between all of our teams; creative, product development, sourcing and licensing.
Where does the inspiration come from when designing?
Liz and I have over 40 years combined experience in the licensed consumer products world. We have seen many trends come and go. At the core of the brand, Loungefly focuses more on nostalgia vs. the latest licensed properties and trends. So the inspiration for our creative strategy is two-fold. For our core line, we try to incorporate all of our past learnings, always observe current fashion trends, listen to our fans thru social media and be mindful of any anniversaries from the past. For our retail partners, we will design into their unique assortments based on their merchandising strategies. This is where we can participate in new licenses that are up and coming. As we are a part of Funko, we have the availability of many of the licenses that they participate in. This allows Loungefly to be very versatile for retailers’ needs.
Although you feature many popular characters on your products it's not just those that will sell, the product has to be made of quality materials. How do you ensure you give the consumer what they are after without going high-end with your pricing?
We pride ourselves on the highest quality and want to make sure that we stay true to our fan base by not compromising. We are always focused on keeping all of the story telling elements in our products that the fans expect to see from us. Obviously, with inflation and material costs going up, we have to make sure we are making smart business decisions, but we won’t compromise on Loungefly’s quality, which really distinguishes us.
How do you know what's going to be popular? How do you remain ahead of the market and be proactive with your designs rather than be late and reactive?
We work very closely with our licensor partners to ensure that we are informed of any key marketing beats or anniversaries. As we are all fans inside our building, we are not afraid to go deeper into fandoms than most other companies. A key difference between Loungefly and other competing companies is our art department. Licensors trust our artists to be true to the story and to always keep the integrity of the characters. We don’t use many style guides since everyone can use those. We have one of the most talented art departments in the industry and our licensor partners allow us to take our own creative spin with their properties. Our social team gives us fan feedback and gives us condensed reports and that does get taken into account. We also take into account what our retailers are looking for, as we are looking at new licenses, there’s a process but we are willing to take a chance and try something new and different.
You have a considerably large range of bags, accessories & clothing ranges - do you plan to introduce other lines of products?
The go forward strategy for Loungefly is to really be seen as a lifestyle brand. For the longest time, Loungefly has been know as a bag company. In the past 3 years, we have introduced casual apparel, vintage inspired apparel (Stitch Shoppe) and an expanded enamel pin range. We are going to continue to expand categories into the future. We will be making some big announcements at SDCC 2023. So we will absolutely be introducing new lines of product for the future. Keep an eye out for our announcements.
Derrick and Liz, there will be people reading this wondering how they could work towards a position like yours at a major lifestyle brand, what advice would you be able to give them?
We both think that having your own point of view is critical. Liz and I are very different, but we are able to combine our points of view in a translatable way for product. Be a student of the industry. If you are in the fashion industry, try to take as many positions as possible. Work at retail, work on the wholesale side, learn about production, etc. etc. We have been blessed with working in various capacities of the industry in which has led us to where we are.
Is there anything you can tell us about what's to come for Loungefly?
We have new product coming every month. There will be a LOT of news coming from Loungefly so make sure to follow our social channels @loungeflyeurope and keep up with all the latest Loungefly drops at funkoeurope.com!
Thank you for your time.