097 | Hiring a licensing agent with Ilana Griffo

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Welcome back to another episode of Proof to Product! Today’s guest is Ilana Griffo, an illustrator, designer, author, and Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni! Like so many of you fellow entrepreneurs, Ilana built her business from the ground up. She began by launching her own stationery line, moved into designing her own product lines, signed major licensing deals with nationally recognized brands like Pier 1, Homegoods, and Michaels, and just published her first book, Mind Your Business. The key to Ilana’s success? She points to the way her business is always transitioning, pivoting to get to where she wants to go!

On today’s episode, Ilana and I sit down to talk about her career journey and the lessons she learned along the way. She talks about how she got her start in the stationery industry, why she decided to hire a licensing agent, and how that has freed her up to do more creative work. We also talk about pushing yourself to create for fun, fighting for your value, and rethinking failure. Ilana shares some examples of tough situations she went through in her business and how they resulted in some of her proudest moments.


  • Misconceptions people have about the small business life

  • How to ask for what you want

  • The difference between giving up and letting go

  • Tips for putting together a first portfolio

  • What happens after you sign with an agency

  • How Ilana turns comparison into inspiration

  • Finding silver linings in self-doubt

  • The importance of fighting for your value

  • Ilana’s intention behind Mind Your Business

  • Celebrating then and now

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“One of the biggest philosophies I have is that you need to ask for what you want.” – Ilana Griffo

“I always wanted to create artwork that makes me happy, that makes other people happy.” – Ilana Griffo

“These pivots haven’t been, I’m going to give up. They’ve just been, I’m going to let go of this so that I can move on to something better.” – Ilana Griffo

“It’s always scary to make a change, it’s always scary, because we don’t know what’s on the other side. We don’t know if that’s going to end up being more successful, or if we’re going to feel like we fell flat on our face.” – Katie Hunt

“Transitioning into a new role is always a conversation, it’s always making a list, it’s always the pros and cons, and you will never feel 100% ready.” – Ilana Griffo

“Licensing has been a whole new world that I didn’t know existed, and now that I’m doing it more, I’m just learning so much about the industry.”– Ilana Griffo

“It’s amazing to see my work on products that I know I couldn’t manufacture on my own. I can make a greeting card, but I can’t make one that has a popup and holographic foil and all these things.” – Ilana Griffo

“Do things for fun, and then turn them into collections that you would want to buy.” – Ilana Griffo

“If you don’t feel that self-doubt, then you don’t have the fire of an entrepreneur, because that’s what keeps us going every day. It’s that fire that’s saying, work harder, or smarter. Do more. Reach for what you want.” – Ilana Griffo

“Before, I put my value into how happy the client was, or how many clients I had booked, or things like that. And now I put it into how I feel about myself.” – Ilana Griffo

“We will get through this, and you’ll figure it out, and it will lead to another experience, a notch on your belt of how you’re going to handle things going forward.” – Katie Hunt

“Share the process, share the ups and share the downs, just makes it so real and makes people want to follow along.” – Ilana Griffo

“I want to write down my goals and make sure I’m in line with those, but I also want to sit back and enjoy the ride, and feel really proud about what I did.” – Ilana Griffo


Website: Ilana Griffo | Facebook: @ilanagriffo | Pinterest:@sugarandtype

Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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