With over 200 years of combined experience, The Brand Liaison team is one of the industry’s most diverse and talented.
Click on the names to the left to view more information about each of our team members.
Steven W. Heller, Esq.
With degrees in both law and accounting, and 25 years in licensing and business development, Steven combined his vision, experience and strong industry contacts to create The Brand Liaison. Since its formation in 2011, The Brand Liaison has quickly gained prominence as one of the licensing industry’s leading boutique agencies, with a stellar reputation and strong management team. The Brand Liaison staff is among the most diverse in the industry with experts across a broad range of product classifications.
Throughout his 25 year career, Steven has been active in all aspects of intellectual property, including the worldwide licensing and enforcement of various world famous properties, representing licensors and licensees in deals involving fashion brands such as Gloria Vanderbilt, Nautica, Gitano, Oleg Cassini and even Donald Trump, properties owned by Disney, MGM, Warner Brothers, the NFL, NBA, NCAA, and FIFA. As part of these licensing programs and brand extension strategies, he has also worked with major retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Hot Topic, Jo-Ann’s, David’s Bridal, and many others.
In addition to his strong negotiation skills and ability to craft business deals advantageous to all parties, Steven is able to utilize his creative and entrepreneurial skills to provide guidance in brand development and product development. “Based on our deep rolodex and our collective experience with thousands of companies, we are able to quickly identify our clients’ core competencies, as well as their business needs. We are then able to create successful business relationships by matching our clients’ needs, with companies that specialize in that area.”
Also known as “The Professor,” Steven is a renowned public speaker and a professor of business and law at both the graduate and undergraduate level. He has conducted seminars and lectures on business and law topics such as trademarks and licensing, franchising and international business. He is an author and presenter of seminars on “Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights” and “How to Use Licensing and Franchising as a Means of Business Expansion.“
Steven graduated cum laude in the top 5% of his class at Fordham Law School, 1991 and graduated SUNY Albany in 1987, with dual major in Accounting and Business Administration. He is a licensed attorney and member of bar in the state of New York.
Karen Diamond is a Wall Street Journal featured licensing specialist with close to 30 years experience in the licensing industry. Karen has a reputation for developing and executing highly focused, goal oriented licensing strategies individually tailored to each client. For seven years, Karen was a co-founder of Synergy Licensing, a leading boutique licensing agency since 2008.
In 1995, Karen formed Karen Diamond & Associates (KDA), representing The Pillsbury Company for strategic planning, management, and implementation of the licensing program including the Pillsbury brand and logo, the ever popular Doughboy character, Green Giant, Little Sprout and the Old El Paso trademarks. Under Karen’s direction, the Pillsbury licensing program grew from 4 initial licensees to over 45 companies. With more than 500 licensed products in the marketplace, the licensing industry still considers the Pillsbury program a model for successful corporate programs, having been nominated for several industry excellence awards including winning the coveted, “Licensee of the Year” award by its kitchen textile licensee for its superior execution and distribution of the Pillsbury product line and Lechter’s nomination for the LIMA “Retailer of the Year” for its comprehensive integrative Pillsbury promotion.
Prior to forming KDA, Karen worked for companies including Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Looney Tunes, Batman, Superman, Pillsbury, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, Baskin Robbins, 7UP, etc.), Liz Claiborne and Cole Haan. At WBCP, Karen was profiled by the industry publication, Home Furnishings Daily (HFD, now HFN), with a cover story featuring her innovative and ground breaking Looney Tunes licensing program. Having worked directly for Liz herself, at Liz Claiborne, Karen developed a keen aesthetic for fashion and an impeccable eye for detail.
With such a strong, diverse licensing background, Karen understands the nuances of both protecting and enhancing brand imagery through effective and cohesive licensing. She is an excellent communicator who has the expertise and proven track record to create and develop successful licensing programs.
Katey Gabrielson is an accomplished licensing executive who has held key positions related to branding, licensing and business development, from both the perspective of licensing agent and brand owner at some of the world’s most recognized and beloved brands.
With a work pedigree based on multimillion dollar consumer goods sales, Katey has shown an innate ability to successful license brands across various industries and retail placement, including specialties in apparel, accessories, footwear, and toys. She played a key role in the expansion of the Ty Beanie Babies Brand in the mid to late 1990s and later as Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Toy Island, a division of Li & Fung USA, where she was recognized for her creative and energetic leadership. Prior to joining The Brand Liaison, Katey held senior management positions at Compass and Prominent Global.
Over the past 20+ years, Katey’s experience has included licensing and brand development with companies and brands such as Fox, Warner Bros., Sanrio, Children’s Television Workshop, Disney, Nickelodeon, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Skecher’s, EA Sports, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Harley Davidson, Elvis Presley Entertainment, Ty, Inc., Mattel, Hasbro, TOPPS Trading Cards, NASCAR, Thomas Kinkade, Rachel Hale, Frigidaire, Fuzzy Nation, and Tutti-Cuti. Most recently Ms. Gabrielson has been the principle player in licensing and merchandising for megastar illusionist Criss Angel with placement of multimillion dollar retail toy programs at Walmart, Walgreen’s, Amazon and Barne’s and Noble.
At The Brand Liaison, Katey is a member of the company’s senior management team and leads new business initiatives. She is also responsible for managing licensing for several of the brands we represent and is a key liaison to major retail partners including Kmart/Sears, Target, Justice, Kohl’s, Walgreens, CVS, Best Buy, and Federated Department Stores’ Macy’s and Bloomingdales. Katey prides herself on her dedication to expanding placement of intellectual property, while maintaining a conservative hold on brand assurance, brand integrity and partner selection.
Marcy Silverman leads our representation of trend-setting designers and classic artists. Marcy specializes in providing brand and celebrity talent to manufactures in various industries including Gift, Home, Housewares, Toys and Apparel.
Marcy is a seasoned licensing professional with over 25 years of experience who has built her career and reputation based on initiative, strategic and creative thinking, strong leadership and results oriented hands on approach. She is a brand builder delivering effective results in developing talent, trend forecasting, product development and marketing. Marcy brings key insight into today’s retail environment with her background as designer, manufacturer and principal of Buffalo Rome a product design firm.
Throughout her career, she has consistently forged strong relationships with major giftware, stationery, party goods, toys, collectibles, publishing, apparel, textiles, tableware and home furnishings manufacturers. such as Gibson USA, Town and Country Home, Fiesta Toys, Demdaco, Mohawk, Design Design, Leaning Tree, CR Gibson, Creative Converting, Spectrix Fabric. Marcy’s licensing achievements have culminated in the sales of thousands of SKU’s and her direction has influenced trends in a broad range of products and markets.
Marcy understands the importance of teamwork, collaboration and a comprehensive knowledge of today’s trend-setting environment. We call her the Ring Leader because of her infectious spirit and an innate leadership abilities.
Marcy received her degrees in Psychology and Sociology from University of Vermont and Bennington College.
“PC : Always Politically Correct”
Paul Cohen is a partner in the Creatif Licensing Division of The Brand Liaison leading our representation of trend-setting designers and classic artists.
As founder of Creatif Licensing, Paul brings over 25 years of experience in professional brand management and international licensing programs. Among numerous accolades, Paul achieved great notoriety from his successful worldwide licensing program for the Moppets, and was responsible for the establishment and growth of the multi-million dollar Mary Engelbreit enterprise, including the brand launch and the attracting the first 40+ licensees.
Currently, our Creatif division provides a broad range of artistic talent to dozens of active licensees responsible for manufacturing licensed products in all the major industries including giftware, stationery, party goods, toys, collectibles, publishing, apparel, textiles, tableware and home furnishings. Paul is responsible for ensuring that we maintain strong relationships with our manufacturing partners, as he understands that these relationships are the key to our long term success.
Paul has appeared on TV with Morley Safer as a Licensing expert, and has lectured at the Licensing show, Art Expo, Surtex. He is an industry expert referenced in the Licensing Royalty Rate publication. Paul has an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic institute and marketing background.
Mr. Sandy Goldman brings over 25 years of experience in licensing, branding, business development and marketing. Throughout his career, he has provided branding and licensing expertise to many companies including Spirit Jersey, The Mountain, MyOwnersBox, Forsythe Cosmetics, and uSell, among others.
For The Brand Liaison, Sandy heads up our sports licensing programs based on his strong experience and relationships working with The National Football League, Major League Baseball, NCAA collegiate licensing, NBA, and Nascar, among others. He has been responsible for assisting our clients in successfully acquiring and marketing major sports licenses across multiple product categories, including participating in product placement with major retailers and sports licensing internet distribution.
Previously he was a partner at On The Ball, a marketing and sales agency helping consumer package companies develop their branding and licensing strategy.
His past corporate roles have included VP-Global Marketing for uSell and Executive Director of Marketing for Proven Methods. Earlier in his career, Mr. Goldman held senior management positions at SkyMall, Turner Broadcasting System and Actmedia.
Mr. Goldman is a graduate of the University of Maryland – University College.
“Smartest Playboy Bunny Ever”
Laurie Smith is a seasoned strategic licensing and marketing leader with rich, global experience across multiple business sectors and product arenas.
She is a well-organized, results-oriented straight shooter who tackles every project with passion and conviction. It’s her hands-on experience that lays the foundation for her ability to develop winning strategies for her clients that deliver exceptional results. Her background includes a steady stream of professional successes in kids, sports and adult media and entertainment industries with iconic brands such as Nickelodeon, Major League Baseball and Playboy. She was the pivotal player in the repositioning and rebuild of the Playboy Global Licensing Program into an approximately $1B retail business. Laurie also solicited, negotiated and secured one of Playboy’s biggest and most successful licenses.
Laurie graduated Cum Laude from the College of the Holy Cross and resides in Long Island.
“Chief Entertainment Officer”
Cory Waisner brings to us his expertise in marketing, licensing and sales including 25 years in the fashion industry.
Being one of the co-founders of Global Design Concepts Inc., a leading accessories company out of NY the last 17+ years, has taught Cory the complexities of both character and brand licensing. Cory was directly responsible for both licensed and private label product development including concepts and presentations to licensors and retailers in market segments such as Accessories, Fashion, Home, Sport, Pet and HBA. In addition to development and product placement, Cory also worked closely with his offices overseas in China in sourcing new products, designs and unique fabrications. Cory played an instrumental role in taking the company from startup to just shy of $100 million dollars in under 9 years and also earning the coveted Disney licensee of the year.
Cory’s licensing activities include works with brands such as Disney, Warner Bros., Vans, Bill A Bong, Old Navy, Dry Bar, Skechers, and Ironman Competitions, across multiple product categories, which has helped him earn a reputation for properly tailoring licensing programs to the specific needs of a wide array of clients.
At The Brand Liaison, Cory manages in bound licensing acquisitions for several clients and assists in securing new and different avenues for successful licensing programs both for manufacturers as well as brand owners.
His personality is larger than life leading to his tile as CEO — “The Chief Entertainment Officer”.
Cory is a graduate of SUNY Albany with a background in psychology and business.
Ms. Vicki Engel is a highly effective sales and marketing professional skilled at building profitable brand licensing programs and negotiating effective partnerships between brand owners and manufacturers. Over her 12+ year career in marketing and licensing, Vicki has gained a deep understanding of multiple product categories including: apparel, fashion accessories, jewelry, home furnishings, automotive and luxury goods. Vicki is currently employed by Merchant Factors and manages collaborations between The Brand Liaison and Merchants.
Vicki’s licensing expertise extends to both corporate and fashion brand licensing programs. Vicki previously worked at Iconix Brand Group, where she managed the newly acquired $500 million Mudd Jeans brand. Vicki managed the product development, business forecasting and marketing for more than 20 domestic and international licensees. Prior to her work at Iconix, Vicki supervised brand programs for Jones Apparel Group’s, Nine West, and Jeep licensing, where she oversaw product development and marketing for more than $450 million in annual retail sales and managed local agents in Australia, China, London, Paris and South Africa. Most recently, Vicki served as Brand Director for the emerging denim brand Vigoss, signing multiple licensees to grow this multi-million dollar international company.
Throughout her career, Vicki has consistently increased product sales and established lucrative licensing partnerships for well-known brands. Vicki is skilled at working with a variety of clients from those looking to strike a select number of license agreements in key categories, to those whose objectives include a large expansion of its product portfolio through licensing.
Vicki graduated with honors from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Organizational Management.
Janon Costley is a business executive with over 15 years of experience in brand development, licensing and operations, and a co-founder of The Brand Liaison. Throughout his career, he has consistently been able to use his unique entrepreneurial spirit and keen market insight to identify quality, revenue generating, brand extension opportunities for companies in the retail and consumer products sectors.
Janon began his career as an Account Executive and eventually General Manager for the one of the country’s leading minority owned special event and tradeshow management companies, promoting the brands of some of the company’s top clients such as Exxon-Mobil, Toyota, Mitsubishi, National Science Foundation and The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
In 2002, Janon formed an apparel holding company involved with acquisitions and development of various apparel and consumer brands. Following several strategic brand acquisitions, distribution and licensing deals, including Converse and YMLA, the company went public in 2006. He was appointed CEO of the public company in 2007 where he lead the company in establishing strategic alliances with key retailers and manufacturing partners, as well as development of several successful private label and licensing programs. Most recently he was responsible for the development of licensing and distribution agreements with several internationally recognized brands including Kappa, FIFA and Skechers.
In addition to his role with The Brand Liaison, Janon also currently serves as an operating advisor for Verité Capital Partners, a minority owned and operated private equity firm focused on investments in the consumer products and retail sectors. Janon is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University (’95) with degrees in Business Administration and Marketing.
Eric Michalowsky manages all of The Brand Liaison’s creative, art and design needs and works with our clients to ensure proper presentation and brand messaging across all media.
In addition to a lifetime of graphic design and branding experience, Eric’s degrees in Business Finance and Marketing provide him with an understanding of our clients’ businesses, and the ability to direct the process and end product for maximum results.
Prior to joining The Brand Liaison, Eric formed his own graphic design agency, Empower Graphics, in 2006 which continues to this day. Prior to Empower Graphics, he was responsible for all marketing and information technology aspects of two major retail chains. This included applying his branding expertise to the design and introduction of e-commerce solutions as an alternate revenue stream. Prior to that, he was a principal of corPersona, a boutique branding and corporate identity agency, where he honed his graphic design skills and business acumen. His focus on corporate identity, logo design and branding came to the forefront during his intimate working relationships with corPersona clients, such as Arby’s, Bose and Chris Evert’s Annual Charity Tennis Tournament where they are still using his acclaimed logo.
Eric grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa where, other than a cool accent, he acquired a Bachelor of Business Science from the University of Cape Town, majoring in Finance and Marketing.
He can paint himself in blue, red, black and grey. So very meaningful. Grey is his favorite color, and if he knew Picasso, he would buy himself a grey guitar and play…