When Sarah Smith of Bella Vista made a special gift for her husband out of pictures representing various University of Arkansas sports, her friend saw it and wanted to have one that was similar.
Smith realized other Razorback fans might enjoy the same thing so she looked into creating the decorations to sell.
She knew that the Razorback trademark was probably restricted, so she checked in to the options for using the images with permission.
“I couldn’t do it (without the right license) because it didn’t feel right,” she said.
At first, she was taken aback because the costs involved with purchasing a standard license were prohibitive and they were clearly designed for manufacturers who made thousands of items to be sold en masse. It was too much money for something that she wanted to do on a simple, small scale.
“There were requirements like having bonded insurance,” she said. “It was overwhelming.”
Smith discovered that the U of A offered something new that fit her needs to the proverbial “t.”
The new category of licensing for crafters that started about 18 months ago is intended for people who create hand-made items that are sold in small amounts. Crafters can sell up to 500 items or $2,500 worth each year and crafters must submit a detailed annual report that verifies that they do not qualify for being required to have a higher level of license.
The crafters license carries an annual fee of $100 and there is a $25 charge for 500 labels.
An official label that indicates the item is licensed and approved must be affixed to every item sold. Crafters can sell the items to individual consumers and not through a retail market like other license categories allow.
“Not a lot of institutions have that, but it made sense for us,” said Brian Pracht, associate athletics director for marketing and licensing at the UA.
The large number of crafters in the area meant that many items were being created for resale at craft fairs and other events, but without the University’s permission. Instead of denying permission to all the crafters who wanted to create items using Razorback material, the University decided to create a license that made it possible.
“It gives us some level of control of how people are using our trademark and it gives the crafters the ability to say they are official,” Pracht said.
The University owns and controls its names, trademarks, logos, insignias and trademarked colors that are used to imply references to the UA. This includes terms such as University of Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Hogs, Wooo Pig Sooie and images of the Old Main silhouette.
There are four licensing levels for people wanting to profit from using the trademark items:
1.) Standard license available to companies that want to produce University of Arkansas merchandise for retail distribution. According to the Arkansas Razorbacks website, there are nearly 650 standard licenses as of Sept. 18. It is the manufacturer, not the store, that must obtain the license.
2.) Local/In-state license-available for companies who want to produce products for the U of A and other in-state universities.
3.) Restricted license-an option for companies producing products for internal university consumption only.
4.) Crafter’s license-an option for those who make hand-made items to sell to individual consumers. Sales limitations apply.
The University made $3 million in licensing revenue last fiscal year from the entire program, Pracht said, adding that other licensees are the University’s best form of making sure the program is being enforced.
They are known to ask people selling Razorback-related items if they are officially licensed, he said. Most of the time when it’s discovered that someone is selling items without a license it’s because they simply didn’t realize it was necessary.
When the University finds out that someone is not following the rules, it’s usually cleared up with a simple phone call, he said.
The popularity of the items has meant a still small, but growing business for Smith, who is developing a website to feature the three products she makes.
The pictures are images from some of the University’s most popular sports and they spell “HOGS.” The H is from a basketball hoop, the O is from a baseball, the G is a football helmet and the S is from a cheerleader’s uniform. The pictures can be arranged in one print that is long and narrow, or they can come individually to be arranged on the individual’s wall. She also recently got approval to sell tile coasters.
Marjorie Crosby of Clarksville hopes to find some level of success this fall as she starts to sell some hand-sewn Razorback items including purses and aprons.
“It’s my first time to do this so we will see how it goes,” she said.
If the items she makes do sell, that will make the crafter’s license a good fit for her needs.nCrosby only produces a small number of items based on what she thinks she will be able to sell.
“I don’t do a lot of one thing,” she said. “I don’t do like an assembly line stuff. I do more one of a kind.”
Crosby will be at the Wiederkehr Village Weinfest Oct. 13.