Thursday, December 06, 2018

Nickelodeon And Encantos Media Studios To Partner On Consumer Products Line For Beloved Bilingual Baby Property 'Canticos' (Updated 12/11)

Originally published: Monday, December 11, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2018

Canticos co-creator Susie Jaramillo has announced the exciting news in a interview with Forbes that, following the successful launch of Canticos on Nick Jr. USA in May 2018, Encantos Media Studios, PBC will start to launch Canticos consumer products - spanning categories including layette, toy, accessories, home, publishing and more - in 2019!

Original Nickelodeon USA Press Release via NickPress.com:

NICKELODEON AND ENCANTOS MEDIA STUDIOS TO

PARTNER ON CONSUMER PRODUCTS LINE FOR CANTICOS,

BILINGUAL PROPERTY FEATURING BELOVED NURSERY

RHYMES THAT CELEBRATE LATINO CULTURE


Canticos Short-Form Content to be Available on Nickelodeon’s Digital Platforms

for Preschoolers



Los Pollitos; Image via Kidscreen.

NEW YORK–Nov. 3, 2017– Nickelodeon is partnering with Encantos Media Studios, PBC (Encantos) to develop the first collection of consumer products for infants and toddlers, inspired by the award-winning bilingual baby property, Canticos. With a collection of some of the most beloved Spanish-language nursery rhymes from all over the world, Canticos celebrates Latino culture by bringing songs such as “Los Pollitos,” “Elefantitos,” and “Mi Burrito Sabanero” to life through bilingual children’s books, interactive apps and sing-along videos.

Nickelodeon will seek consumer products and promotional partners, spanning categories including layette, toy, accessories, home, publishing and more. Canticos short-form content is expected to launch in Spring 2018 on Nick’s digital preschool platforms, including NickJr.com, the Nick Jr. App and NOGGIN, Nick’s video subscription service. The Canticos portfolio of characters is created by Venezuelan-American artist Susie Jaramillo. Canticos short-form content will be produced by Jaramillo, alongside husband and wife team Nuria Santamaria Wolfe and Steven Wolfe Pereira, co-founders of Encantos Media Studios.


“From the moment we first saw it, we loved how Canticos brings together kids and families from all backgrounds through bilingual stories and culturally authentic songs and characters,” said Pam Kaufman, CMO and President, Consumer Products, Nickelodeon. “The appeal of this property is universal and we look forward to introducing a gorgeous consumer products line for infants and toddlers that embodies the spirit of this terrific property.”

Canticos was created to help Latino families share culture and language in a fun and engaging way across screens and beyond,” said Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, co-founder and CEO, Encantos Media Studios. “Nickelodeon is a leader and innovator in kids’ entertainment, and they understand and value the diversity of today’s generation. This partnership with Nickelodeon further expands the reach and appeal of these beloved nursery rhymes, so even more children and families around the world can sing, learn and play along.”

About Encantos Media Studios, PBC
Encantos Media Studios, PBC (Encantos) is a purpose-driven family entertainment and education company inspired by a world of culture. Focused on building creator-led brands that build bridges and understanding by celebrating diversity, inclusion and belonging, Encantos creates meaningful media that makes the world a better place for kids of all ages. As a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), each Encantos brand is a force for good and supports a cause related to the brand.

About Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, now in its 38th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

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Below is the Spanish version of the above press release, via Business Wire:

Nickelodeon y Encantos Media Studios unirán esfuerzos en la creación de línea de productos de consumo para Canticos, marca bilingüe basada en canciones infantiles amadas que celebran la cultura latina


Contenidos de corta duración de Canticos estarán disponibles en las plataformas digitales de Nickelodeon para niños en edad preescolar


November 03, 2017 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

NUEVA YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nickelodeon se asocia con Encantos Media Studios, PBC (Encantos) para desarrollar la primera colección de productos de consumo para infantes y niños pequeños inspirada en la galardonada marca bilingüe para niños, Canticos. Con una colección que incluye las canciones infantiles más adoradas de todo el mundo hispanoparlante, Canticos celebra la cultura latina con canciones tradicionales como “Los Pollitos”, “Elefantitos”, y “Mi Burrito Sabanero” a través de libros, aplicaciones interactivas y videos musicales bilingües para niños.

Nickelodeon buscará socios para el desarrollo y publicidad de productos de consumo en categorías como ajuares infantiles, juguetes, accesorios, artículos para el hogar, industria editorial y muchas más. El lanzamiento de Canticos, en la forma de contenidos de corta duración, está previsto para la primavera del 2018 en las plataformas digitales de Nick preescolar, entre ellas NickJr.com, las aplicaciones Nick Jr. y NOGGIN, y el servicio de video por suscripción de Nick. El portafolio de personajes de Canticos es una creación de la artista venezolano-estadounidense Susie Jaramillo. La producción de los contenidos de corta duración de Canticos estará a cargo de Jaramillo, junto a cofundadores de Encantos Media Studios y esposos, Nuria Santamaria Wolfe y Steven Pereira Wolfe.

“Desde el primer momento, nos encantó la forma en que Canticos une a niños y familias de distinto origen a través de sus historias bilingües y sus canciones y personajes culturalmente auténticos”, explicó Pam Kaufman, directora ejecutiva de marketing y presidenta de productos de consumo de Nickelodeon. “El atractivo de este tipo de contenido es universal, y nuestro objetivo es presentar una magnífica línea de productos de consumo para bebes y niños pequeños personificada por estos preciosos contenidos”.

Canticos se creó para ayudar a las familias latinas a compartir su cultura y su idioma de manera atractiva y divertida en distintas plataformas”, amplió Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, cofundadora y CEO de Encantos Media Studios. “Nickelodeon es líder e innovador en entretenimiento para niños, y comprende el valor de la diversidad en las generaciones actuales. Esta alianza con Nickelodeon expande aún más el alcance y el atractivo de estas adorables canciones infantiles para que los niños y familias de todo el mundo puedan cantar, jugar y aprender juntos”.

Acerca de Encantos Media Studios, PBC

Encantos Media Studios, PBC (Encantos) es una compañía de entretenimiento y educación para toda la familia inspirada por un mundo de cultura. Encantos esta dedicada a diseñar marcas, dirigidas por un talento creador, que fomentan la comprensión, la unión y celebran la diversidad, la inclusión y el sentido de pertenencia. Encantos crea contenidos relevantes que hacen del mundo un lugar mejor para niños de todas las edades. Como corporación de beneficio público (PBC, por sus siglas en inglés), cada marca producida por Encantos es una fuerza al servicio del bien y apoya causas relacionadas con esa marca.

Acerca de Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, que ya ha cumplido 38 años, es la marca de entretenimiento número uno para niños. Ha construido un negocio diverso y global poniendo como objetivo central a los niños en todas sus iniciativas. La compañía incluye programación televisiva y producciones en los Estados Unidos y en todo el mundo, además de productos de consumo, digitales, recreativos, libros y películas. La red televisiva de Nickelodeon en los Estados Unidos se ve en más de 90 millones de hogares y ha sido la red de cable básico para niños número uno durante 22 años consecutivos. Para obtener más información o acceder a materiales artísticos, visite http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon y todos sus títulos, personajes y logotipos relacionados son marcas comerciales de Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

El comunicado en el idioma original, es la versión oficial y autorizada del mismo. La traducción es solamente un medio de ayuda y deberá ser comparada con el texto en idioma original, que es la única versión del texto que tendrá validez legal.

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Also, from License! Global:

Nick Breaks the Mold with New Brand Canticos (Exclusive)

Based on Spanish-language nursery rhymes, Nickelodeon new partnership with Encantos Media Studios showcases the company's new approach to IP.

NORTH AMERICA-Nickelodeon is taking a big stake in both the Hispanic and infant markets through a new partnership with San Francisco-based Encantos Media Studios to expand the award-winning bilingual baby brand Canticos into consumer products and beyond.

Not only does the partnership mark Nickelodeon’s first entry into content for infants and toddlers, but it also showcases the company’s new model of taking external brands that fit the network’s DNA and building them out for a global audience, like it did with YouTube star JoJo Siwa.

“There’s a real need out there from a consumer purchasing perspective to reflect all audiences, and there are a lot of aisles that are under-represented. JoJo is one example of an aisle that was completely under-represented–the teen/tween aisle,” said Pam Kaufman, CMO and president, global consumer products, Nickelodeon. “With the rise of the Latino population, we felt like we were under-serving the Latino audience, and so we look at this as an area where Nickelodeon Consumer Products can really make a difference.”

The Canticos brand– first launched in 2015 with dual-language English-Spanish books, apps and sing-along videos–is comfortable territory for Nickelodeon, which blazed new trails when it introduced the world to a 7-year-old bilingual girl named Dora back in 2001.


It’s been more than 15 years though since “Dora the Explorer” hit the airwaves, and according to Encantos founders Steven Wolfe Pereira and Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, who are of Dominican and Salvadorian descent (respectively) and are now based in San Francisco, there is a huge demand for authentic, enriching, Spanish-language content in the U.S.

Over one-third of the U.S. population is multi-cultural, with Hispanics making up close to 18 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest numbers.

The key to Canticos’ already significant success is its authenticity. Husband and wife duo Wolfe Pereira and Santamaria Wolfe, have an expansive background working for some of the biggest names in media from Univision to Twitter. But it wasn’t until the impending arrival of their first child that they decided to turn their talents to creating content that would bring their culture to life for their own child, and the millions of other children of Latino heritage across the U.S.

“We are living in a multi-cultural nation. By 2040 over a third of the U.S. population will be Hispanic, but you don’t have to wait until 2040, because today over 50 percent of Millennials are multi-cultural, with the largest percentage of the demographic being Hispanic,” said Wolfe Pereira. “When we found out that we were having our first child, it really hit us personally. I realized there was no way for us to share our culture with our son. Understanding the meaning of culture and what role that plays as you badge yourself as a family, you want to pass on these traditions.”

And so it was that, alongside the partners’ new baby, a new brand was also born. Targeting kids ages 0 to 24 months old, Canticos (which means “little songs” in Spanish) centers on Spanish-language nursery rhymes from all over the world, celebrating Latino culture by bringing songs such as “Los Pollitos,” “Elefantitos” and “Mi Burrito Sabanero” to life.

“I think the opportunity for parents and families to share their culture and share their language starts from the moment that a baby is born. It’s that moment when you first put your child to bed, or try to, and you want to sing to them. When I began to sing to my son, it wasn’t ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ it was ‘Los Pollitos,’ the songs that I had grown up with,” said Santamaria Wolfe. “And when I looked for books and apps and tools to help me pass on that culture and that language, there really wasn’t anything. We’ve heard this a lot from educators and librarians too. What they’re really lacking is tools to teach, especially those younger demographics.”


Encantos co-founders Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, CEO; Susie Jaramillo, chief creative officer; and Steven Wolfe Pereira, chairman, with Pam Kaufman of Nickelodeon.

Without any active marketing to-date, the brand has racked up 103,000 subscribers on YouTube with its most popular video boasting 19 million views. The brand also includes four book titles published in-house by Encantos and distributed by PGW/Ingram–also available in digital form–as well as an app.

And the brand isn’t aimed just at Latino families. With engaging artwork and its focus on music, Canticos is well-placed to serve American parents of all stripes who increasingly want to expose their children to other languages and cultures from an early age.

Nickelodeon’s job now will be to “amplify” the brand, as Kaufman put it. The company will work with Encantos to develop the first collection of consumer products and promotional partners for the Canticos, spanning categories including layette, toy, accessories, home, publishing and more.

“This is a new model for us. Historically our content has been created by the Nickelodeon team, then it’s launched as a show, then you wait for the show to work and then you have consumer products,” Kaufman explains. “We’ve now created an IP for CP strategy. We are actually making shows to be successful in consumer products. If you think about ‘Turtles,’ we bought ‘Turtles’ to be in the action figure aisle. Even though this content is not made by Nickelodeon, it has the DNA of Nickelodeon.”

The audience demographic is also new for Nickelodeon, and Kaufman readily admits that this digital brand geared toward infants might not ever end up on television, making it a surprising move for a company that has its roots in network television.

“For kids under 2, you’re really not looking to expose them to TV. You have to really think about how you are introducing things at this really fragile, tender age,” says Wolfe Pereira. “You are so thoughtful about anything that is going to come into contact with your baby.”

But while traditional TV may not be in the cards, content certainly is. In fact, Canticos short-form content is slated to launch in spring 2018 on Nick’s preschool-facing digital platforms including NickJr.com, the “Nick Jr.” app and Noggin, Nick’s video subscription service. The content will be produced by Venezuelan-American artist Susie Jaramillo, who created the brand and is also a founder of Encantos, alongside Santamaria Wolfe and Wolfe Pereira. This new slate of digital content will focus on developing the characters that appear in the nursery rhymes featured in Canticos through animated webisodes.

“For example, ‘Los Pollitos’ is a beautiful nursery rhyme about these three newborn chickies with their mother hen taking care of them. It’s a beautiful nursery rhyme, and now we’re actually going to bring the characters to life. Then, those characters can be used to tell other stories, and that’s where we’ll leverage the power of Nickelodeon,” explains Wolfe Pereira.

Kaufman and her team already hard work at creating style guides for the brand’s CP line, and she says that the reception she’s received thus far from licensees and retailers has been overwhelmingly positive.

--Ends--

Also, from NewsTimes:

How This Scrappy Startup That's Partnered With Target and Nickelodeon Stays Lean and Gives Back

When this media company found the big partners it needed to fulfill its mission at scale, it had to be strategic with its resources to meet their demands.

In this America’s Small-Business Heroes edition of The Fix, Entrepreneur Associate Editor Lydia Belanger shares her conversations with founders and executives who have solved problems while keeping social impact in mind.

Nuria Santamaría Wolfe says she grew up feeling like she was living in two worlds. Born in El Salvador, she moved to Los Angeles with her family at age 3. Her childhood home life was filled with Latino culture, and Spanish is her first language, but living in the U.S. immersed her in the American mainstream. She learned how to transition between the two worlds, she says, and proudly grew up with a bicultural identity.

Even before graduating high school, Santamaría Wolfe knew that she wanted to pursue a career addressing the ways in which Hispanic people were underserved and underrepresented. She decided to study economics in college at Stanford and minored in Spanish, despite her fluency, to ready herself to use the language in a business context.

Eventually, she worked her way up to Twitter, where she headed up multicultural strategy for the social platform, identifying the market opportunities associated with long underrepresented and growing demographics.

“I got to the point where I realized, sometimes brands understand the opportunity and don’t act on it,” Santamaría Wolfe says, “or want to act on it but don’t know how to act on it.”

Then, in 2015, she became a mother and saw a massive opportunity for more Latino culture in children’s media. She co-founded Encantos Media Studios with the goal of creating products to the bridge gaps between cultures. The first brand under the Encantos umbrella is Canticos, which publishes Latino nursery rhymes in books, sing-along videos and interactive app formats.

“We weren’t going to wait for Disney or another media company to do this,” Santamaría Wolfe, who also serves as Encantos CEO, says. “We were passionate about doing this not just because it was a business opportunity, but almost because of social good. We felt we had to do it -- for the culture, for the people.”

Santamaría Wolfe and her team have several goals for their self-funded media startup. They founded it as a public-benefit corporation and prioritize giving -- through in-kind donations, partnerships with charitable organizations, events, educational materials for kids and parenting resources.

They also want their products to appeal to more than just Latino families. The long-term plan is to create content for a range of cultures. For instance, Canticos stories, Santamaría Wolfe explains, are meant to make Latinos feel proud to see their culture represented, and give non-Latino parents an opportunity to expose their kids to diverse and bilingual content.

But the mass appeal the company had worked to cultivate would be much more powerful as a mass-market scale. Not to mention, financial growth would allow the public-benefit corporation to better fulfill its social mission. As partnership opportunities have arisen with big players such as Target, Nickelodeon and Burt’s Bees, Encantos has worked to deliver new products quickly by leveraging existing smaller partnerships and in-house talent, when possible.

“When we think about going from a small, family-owned startup to scaling and playing with the big guys,” Santamaría Wolfe says, “it’s about finding that balance of capitalizing on short-term opportunities while not sacrificing the long-term vision that we have.”

Here’s how Encantos has stayed lean despite the demands of new distributors.

The fix

Target and Encantos began talks due to the retailer’s hunger for more bilingual children’s books. When Encantos first met with Target, it had four book titles out in market at the time. The problem was, they were not mass-market friendly and featured details such as a slip-cover and accordion-like expansion that made them more suited for boutique book stores. Encantos anticipated Target would want a smaller, pared-down version -- the existing one wouldn’t fit on its shelves -- and brought a mock of a simpler version to the meeting. The companies worked together to retain the authenticity of the stories and the interactivity of the products that Encantos has prioritized from the day it was founded.

The challenge, however, was that Target wanted the new version of the books in a matter of three months, while Encantos had slated production for them a year out. Despite the magnitude of this deal, Encantos used its existing resources to handle it. The company called up its printer, a fellow startup, and explained the situation. The printer fast-tracked the process, and Encantos made Target’s deadline.

This fall, Encantos has entered into another large partnership, with Nickelodeon. It had already been creating animated content for its own YouTube channel, which has more than 117,000 subscribers -- its singalong videos contain animated versions of the artwork in Canticos nursery rhyme books. Again, the company faced an aggressive timeline: The new content is slated to debut in spring 2018.

“We had to work on short-form, digital content that needed to live on Nickelodeon’s platform,” Santamaría Wolfe says. “We had to up the ante of the quality and quantity. And we were not set up to do that.”

In this case, Encantos made the decision to call upon new help for aspects such as storyboarding and post-production, hiring an animation studio.
“It’s about understanding where your limitations are going to be,” Santamaría Wolfe says of the decision, “and when it’s time to bring in an additional partner.”

That said, Encantos relies heavily on its diversely talented in-house team. For example, the company’s art director for Canticos books also designs the website and will soon work on additional consumer products Encantos and Nickelodeon has in the works, such as children’s bedding. Encantos’ CTO has a music background and consults on lyrics and translations, but the company’s production work happens externally.
“You have to be self-aware, as an organization,” Santamaría Wolfe says. “It’s great to wear all hats and be a jack-of-all-trades, but you have to know when it’s not going to be enough and fill those gaps in talent.”

She also notes that, when possible, companies seeking rapid growth should also look for jacks of all trades when hiring external talent as well, rather than seeking several one-off freelancers to build relationships with.

The results

Canticos books appeared on shelves of 400 Target stores in October 2017 after the three-month turnaround earlier this year.
“We remained working with a partner that we respected and appreciated,” Santamaría Wolfe says of Encantos’ relationship with its printer, which has helped release six titles, four of which come in two book formats. “Small companies work well with small companies.”
Encantos sells its books across the U.S. as well as in Europe, Asia and Latin America. It recently added Costco Puerto Rico as a distributor.

The company will grow its digital reach from to 2.6 million when it hits Nickelodeon’s platforms this spring. The studio that will have made this possible is based in Canada, and Santamaría Wolfe explains that this was a strategic move: Canada offers tax credits for animation work, which is saving Encantos money -- money that it can allocate to public-benefit efforts.

“I think we’ve been really smart about the way in which we’ve used our resources, financial and people wise,” Santamaría Wolfe says. “We try to move fast, but very thoughtfully, in the way that we do things, and it’s given us opportunities to start to give back very early on.”

Another take

When trying to decide whether to complete a project internally or with external help, companies should ask themselves what the costs of each option are, says Amy Blitz, a lecturer at Babson College who has led organizational research at IBM, McKinsey and other institutions throughout her career.

“A company might decide it wants to do something in-house if it decides that type of project is core enough to its strategy going forward that it needs to develop those kinds of capabilities,” Blitz says.

She cites Apple’s move into retail in the early 2000s as an example. The tech giant determined it would be beneficial to operate its own stores, rather than leave the sales of its products to third parties such as Best Buy. Similarly, Netflix and Amazon have been producing their own TV content, as well as streaming licensed works.

Companies should have insights into whether their direct competitors are building vs. buying certain aspects of their business, but know the same strategy may be right applicable for any number of reasons. A company that takes on a new project in-house may have to dial down efforts in another area. Because of this, Blitz says, it’s important that a company knows where it wants to focus -- and plan ahead.

Other costs may involve managing the group that is completing the project, whether it's longstanding employees or a freelancer or agency. Although outsourcing allows more flexibility for companies that don’t need certain capabilities on a constant or regular basis, the tradeoff is building rapport and trust. Terms of a partnership such as each party’s ownership and responsibilities inevitably come into play.

Blitz shares an anecdote of a pair of partners that built a technology solution to keep sensitive information such as intellectual property private. Other organizations may agree upon regular check-ins or surveys to make sure each is holding up its end of the deal, happy with the arrangement and seeking ways to improve it. Another idea is to have internal and external teams report to the same person to “force the two groups to see each other as collaborators, rather than competitors,” Blitz explains

Partnerships of any size have a bearing on a company’s branding and its employees’, customers’ and suppliers’ perceptions of its values, and opening the wrong door can cause others to close.

“Companies should ask, ‘Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it -- at a profit?’” Blitz says. “And, ‘what don’t we do?’”

--Ends--

From Forbes:

In Next Step Of Brand And Business Growth, Encantos Announces Funding, Advisory Board


New brands, new companies, launch daily, at a time when transparency, authenticity, diversity and purpose are absolute necessities for competitive advantage and, ultimately, success. Indeed, that’s certainly what CMOs of companies large and small say and are putting significant investment behind.

But getting from idea to viable business and really gaining traction in this environment takes a concept that resonates and is relevant, tapping into an insight and unmet cultural need.

Encantos seemingly has done just that in creating a multicultural learning and entertainment platform for kids. Launched in 2015 by cofounders Susie Jaramillo and Carlos Hoyos and Nuria Santamaria Wolfe and Steven Wolfe Pereira, who is also CMO of Quantcast, both wife-and-husband teams, Encantos is a company that creates bilingual educational content and products for children, targeted to Millennial moms—those who are “overwhelmingly diverse and digitally connected,” Jaramillo said. Its first brand, introduced in 2016, is Canticos, a collection of books, apps and singalong videos for infants and toddlers featuring cute and spunky animal characters. In 2017, a partnership with Nickelodeon brought Canticos to Nick Jr.’s digital platforms and initiated development of a Canticos collection of products.

Today, as the next step in its journey, the company announced that it has closed its pre-seed round of funding from investors including Cross Culture Ventures, a firm that invests in entrepreneurs creating technology and products for a diverse global marketplace.

It also today announces its advisory board; members include Richard Dantas, CEO, Ayablu /Burt’s Bees Baby; Rosanna Durruthy, head of global diversity, inclusion and belonging, LinkedIn; Joe Feczko, former senior VP of integrated marketing at Macy’s; Nely Galán, CEO, Galán Entertainment; Melanie Healey, former group president, Procter & Gamble; Antonio Lucio, global CMO, Facebook; Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, founder, SMASH Program and partner, Kapor Capital; Richelle Parham, partner, Camden Partners and former CMO, eBay; Rick Richter , partner, Aevitas Creative Management; Jay Sethi, VP of Smirnoff and Nurture Brands Portfolio, Diageo; Astrid Soto, chief operating officer, Agro Imports U.S.; and Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley, who also sits on the Board of Directors at Walmart.

The Encantos origin story is a personal one: Santamaria Wolfe and Wolfe Pereira had their first child Sebastián in 2015 and moved from New York to San Francisco; they soon recognized a culture gap as a Latino family—there really was nothing that existed for kids and families to share their culture in an authentic way. Similarly, Jaramillo and Hoyos recognized the same gap as they were raising two bilingual kids in Brooklyn. Together they sought to create family brands for a multicultural world.

Given their collective 40 years of agency experience, the founders have not yet sought involvement from outside agencies, creative and otherwise. Jaramillo was the cofounder and chief creative officer of The Vox Collective, a multicultural agency, in the early 2000s. Santamaria Wolfe served as head of multicultural strategy at Twitter and Wolfe Pereira had previously worked as a marketing VP at Univision and later an executive VP and managing director at Starcom Mediavest Group where he ran the Walmart media business, as well the industry’s largest multicultural media agency.

Their backgrounds, they believe, provide unique direct benefit to the company, experience and expertise they are bringing to bear on its growth strategy.

I caught up with Jaramillo via email to learn more about the Encantos journey, where we can expect to see the brands and products moving forward, and the lessons for other startup and multicultural brands in an era of consumer empowerment, diversity and inclusion priorities, and digital and social platforms. Our interview, edited for length and clarity, follows.

Jenny Rooney: Is the company’s growth tracking to expectations?

Susie Jaramillo: The company's growth so far has been surpassing expectations. We launched our first brand Canticos in 2016 and by 2017 had a fledgling publishing business. In November 2017, we entered into a partnership with Nickelodeon to license Canticos as well as develop the first collection of consumer products and promotional partners for the brand, spanning categories including layette, toy, accessories, home, publishing and more. In May 2018, Canticos Season 1 went live on Nick Jr.’s platforms and we will launch our first consumer products in 2019. We are now well ahead of our audience and revenue projections for Canticos and we have a focused development pipeline for new direct-to-consumer family brands.

Rooney: Why do you think a company such as this resonates, and why now?

Jaramillo: There is a huge gap in the world of entertainment, education and lifestyle consumer product brands when it comes to authentically connecting with multicultural consumers. People of color are craving for stories that represent them and their culture in positive ways so that they can celebrate who they are with their children. They are hungry for stories, products and brands were Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian—you name the community—are not the afterthought or bit player but the lead and focal point. Furthermore, we are a public benefit corporation. We are purpose-driven, like other PBCs ranging from Kickstarter to Plum Organics to Patagonia. We believe that consumers, especially families, want brands in their lives that have meaning. Purpose is at the heart of Encantos, and each brand that we create will give back to a social cause supporting our customers and communities.

Rooney: What hole were you seeking to fill?

Jaramillo: It’s 2018. Our country and the world is diverse. However, our content, brands and products are not. We see all of the trending hashtags from #OscarsSoWhite to #BlackLivesMatter to #SomosMas. Today the U.S. is 18% Hispanic, 13% African-American and over 5% Asian—that’s a third of the country! And by 2040, over half of the U.S. will be multicultural, with Hispanics being over 30%. However, the future is now with today’s largest population cohort, Millennials, being over 50% multicultural. On average, one out of every three babies being born in diverse (and in states like California and Texas, one out of every two!). So the multicultural market is the new general market.

And yet, we see a huge gap in family brands for multicultural audiences. So we intend to fill this hole. We will use the best of technology, the best of brand building in a digital age and the best authentic and culturally relevant storytelling to build direct-to-consumer brands.

Rooney: How did you choose your board of directors and why?

Jaramillo: As a purpose-led company we wanted to ensure that we had people that understood and believed in our mission. Furthermore, we looked at the different skill sets we would need as we grow from brand building to consumer products, from publishing to technology.

The focus of the advisory board is to give us strategic council and to help us scale the business for the long term. We feel truly lucky to have an incredible group of executives supporting Encantos.

Rooney: Why does being a DTC matter so much right now? What’s different or changed?

Jaramillo: Now more than ever, brands need to know their customer and for the first time, we really can know every part of the customer experience. We have the ability to go directly, engage, and optimize every step of the customer journey like never before. Most brands have indirect relationships with their customers. Similar to brands like Away, Dollar Shave Club, and Warby Parker, we believe that we are disrupting the way family entertainment and education brands are built. By leveraging our experience, insights and all of today's technologies, we are truly able to be mobile first, data driven and obsessed with super-serving niche audiences at scale.

Rooney: What has been your media and marketing strategy for promoting the brand and business such that it got traction early?

Jaramillo: All of us, having worked in media and marketing, are familiar with what works; we know the power of paid with compelling owned and earned media, the most important thing being to get earned and owned media rights. Given our backgrounds, we know the potency of insights and first-party data. We went straight to the customer with what we knew they wanted.

Rooney: How are/will you build out your C-suite?

Jaramillo: We're being very measured in how we bring people aboard as we're building for the long term. It's day one, and we are building a purpose-driven company led by dream team of A talent where culture matters. We're being very thoughtful about how we grow, taking in culture fit and business needs. We'll bring on the right folks at the right time.

Rooney: What lessons have you learned regarding what it takes to build a new brand, particularly a kids/family brand, in today’s environment?

Jaramillo: Now more than ever before, brands need to directly build, engage and superserve their customers. They need to know who their customers are, not merely rent audiences from someone else.

We want to meticulously map out every stage of a customer’s journey (and all key stakeholders) from the beginning and ensure we continue to add value and utility to their lives.

Rooney: Lessons learned in building a multicultural brand?

Jaramillo: Multicultural done right is mainstream. Indeed, diversity is a business imperative—for it is the growth driver for every single industry from automotive to CPG to retail to telecom. Retailers In particular know that growth is being driven by diverse consumers. They are hungry to get behind the right brands that will bring in this audience. The multicultural space is still a mostly misunderstood and relatively uncluttered space. We've found that because of this, we've been able to move quickly and establish a strong presence.

Rooney: What, if any, pushback have you encountered?

Jaramillo: Honestly, we don't really bother with folks that don't get it. The opportunity is too great. We deal with leaders in the space (like Nickelodeon) who skate where the puck is going.

Rooney: What has been the biggest challenge of this journey thus far?

Jaramillo: Keeping up with demand and not growing too fast for “growth’s sake.” In addition, as a B-Corp, we want to ensure that we have the right people around us, from advisors to partners to investors.

Rooney: Biggest surprise?

Jaramillo: We knew that our first brand Canticos would serve as a unifying force with first-, second- and third-generation Latinos from all different countries of origin—and this has exceeded our expectations. However, we’ve also been surprised by how Canticos has been embraced by non-Latinos. Moms know that learning a second language like Spanish at a young age makes kids smarter. Non-Latino families, educators and librarians have all praised Canticos and they want more bilingual tools to give their kids. In particular, we've been pleasantly surprised by the way mainstream preschool educators have received Canticos and our products. In fact, the Teachers College of the University of Vermont is currently doing a study on our books, music and resources and the positive effects they have on babies and toddlers.

Rooney: Where do you hope to see the brand go and grow from here? What kinds of products can we expect to see?

Jaramillo: Look for Canticos consumer products spanning categories including layette, toy, accessories, home, publishing and more in 2019.

Rooney: Advice to companies large and small and entrepreneurs seeking to build brands and businesses in today’s climate?

Jaramillo: There is a world of opportunity, but there is power in focus. Start with the end in mind and obsess on how you are solving a real customer need. Make sure that there truly is a value exchange between you and that customer.

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Also, from Associated Press via Yahoo! Finance:

Canticos creators on leveraging culture for global brands

NEW YORK (AP) — In "Pass It On," Associated Press beat reporters ask executives to share experiences and insights that will resonate with anyone managing a business.

The AP interviewed Susie Jaramillo and Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, co-founders of Encantos Media Studios. It's the family-owned company behind Canticos, a brand of bilingual books, interactives apps and videos inspired by classic Spanish-language nursery songs. Nickelodeon adapted Canticos this year to create a series for toddlers, available on its digital platforms.

Santamaria Wolfe is a former head of multicultural strategy at Twitter and Jaramillo is a former co-owner of a Latino-focused ad agency.

Q: Nickelodeon saw mainstream appeal in your Hispanic-inspired brand. What advice do you have for other multicultural brand developers?

Jaramillo: People will find your culture appealing. When it comes to products, sometimes people get narrowed-minded, thinking, if I leverage culture I won't appeal to my general market. My mantra is, "Yes you will, if you do it well." If you leverage culture elegantly, you will create a product with global appeal.

Q: What were the biggest hurdles in launching your company and how did you overcome them?

Jaramillo: The hardest thing to do is finding partners you can trust, taking a risk and not being afraid of failure. Seek out partners that see your audience as a business imperative. And when I say partners, I mean distribution partners, clients, and who you go into business with. Seek out like-minded professionals who are really passionate about the same ideas you are and don't be afraid to trust them.

Q: Canticos was first released on its own YouTube channel and individual apps. How do you harness digital technology and social media to reach your target audience?

Santamaria Wolfe: I understood the power of tech and digital to really enable a small brand to gain customer attention just as a bring brand would. One is having a presence. Moms are on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Two, is making sure you are connecting with the customer on an emotional level. Create little moments so that they know that you are a brand for them. We are brand by moms for moms.

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More Nick: Paramount Plans Live-Action 'Dora The Explorer' Movie!

Originally posted: Friday, November 03, 2017.

Additional source: Business Wire.
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