Britto says it has been one small step at a time over the last 25 years getting the work into galleries, landing special commissions, designing art for public places and making local and then international connections that led to collaborations with widely recognized brands. You would think we would have a master plan, but so much of what weve done has happened in an organic way, Shriver explains.
For example, a connection Britto made when dedicating a piece of public art in Miami led to his commission to design the pool deck for the debut of Royal Caribbeans Mariner of the Seas in 2003. Seven years later, that relationship led to Britto scoring his own concept stores on three Royal Caribbean cruise ships including the giant Allure of the Seas.
Joe Schlipman, director of onboard revenue for Royal Caribbean Cruises, said in this partnership arrangement, the cruise line operates the concept stores and works directly with Britto licensees. The appeal, he says, is that the ships attract passengers from around the world and Britto has an international following who want his affordable merchandise. Although the stores carry sculptures and paintings priced as high as $15,000, Schlipman says what sells are items priced below $200. He would not reveal total revenue for Britto merchandise. While sales are good, he says, there are no plans for more stores on ships. Because they are operated in-house, its more demanding.
Schlipman says Britto has been strategic in creating his following, interacting with guests during the maiden voyage of Allure of the Seas, explaining to them his philosophy that art is happy, signing autographs for hours, and hosting a kids painting party. He says its this type of interaction with people at events around the world that has built Brittos international fan base.
Shriver said she had been working on a partnership to get Britto products into airport stores for at least five years. That effort paid off in 2009 when it turned into Shop Britto, an exclusive partnership with NewsLink, which now sells an array of Britto merchandise in two stores in Miami airports north terminal. Raymond Kayal Jr., president and CEO of NewsLink, said Britto represents a home-grown Miami business but his appeal is global. That means the ability to ring up sales from international shoppers, who make up about 50 percent of airport visitors. Based on the success of these two stores, we are looking for opportunities in more airports, Kayal said.
There are many who want a piece of Britto, but Shriver says she only considers partnerships and licensing when the arrangement is mutually beneficial. By carefully choosing partners with national and international distribution channels, Britto is achieving the global recognition most brands covet.
Dan Pennacchio, general manager of international brands at Dorel Juvenile Group, said his company had much to gain from putting Brittos designs on its high-end strollers and car seats. Having a passionate, hands-on artist with Brittos well recognized public persona put his personal touch on the products has value, he says. Our motivation is not the individual sale of stroller or car seat, its about the collection. We need special things in our collection. Well get the appropriate price and sell a nice amount but the bigger value is the awareness this brings to our brand.