Candy Johnson is Head of Intellectual Property at the Shaneel Group, a family-owned Watford-headquartered business that, under licence, produces, markets and sells an extensive range of perfume and cosmetic brands.
Candy Johnson is Head of Intellectual Property at the Shaneel Group, a family-owned Watford-headquartered business that, under licence, produces, markets and sells an extensive range of perfume and cosmetic brands including Ghost, Jennifer Lopez Fragrance, Cerruti 1881, Naomi Campbell and the new fragrance for Formula 1. It operates around the world via a network of distributors and has partners in the USA, Germany, Dubai and Australia.
Candy joined the company in 2003 as its first legal counsel, having developed her specialism in private practice in the City. She is now head of Intellectual Property, working within a five-strong in-house legal team.
Speaking to The Brief earlier in March, before the current
coronavirus-related lockdown was implemented, she told us about a typical day
in her working life. Here’s hoping she’ll be back on that commuter train soon.
I live in Greenwich and the office is in Watford so the day starts quite early for me. It takes about an hour and three-quarters to get to the office by tube and train, which for me is downtime that I spend reading the news or listening to podcasts.
I arrive in the office at about 8.45am and the day normally starts with a tea round and checking emails before getting down to work.
Tasks on my desk on a typical day might include clearing a potential new product name for one of our brands, filing trade marks to protect a new name that has been selected, drafting terms and conditions for the competitions promoted on our Instagram sites such as #ghostfragrances, or negotiating service contracts with the advertising agencies we wish to work with on forthcoming product launches.
A global brand portfolio
Shaneel Group is made up of five different companies: Shaneel Enterprises, Mayfair Perfumes, Designer Parfums, Fragrance Expert, and Worth Paris.
As well as dealing with advertising agencies, I also regularly communicate with trade mark agents that handle local filings and a service provider that watches trade mark registries for third-party applications that might present issues. It depends on the licence arrangements but for a number of licensors we manage their house mark portfolios as well as the sub-brand trademarks. We work well to keep everything in good order.
When I first started out in IP as a 22-year-old law graduate I felt it was a really exciting area to be working in. In particular, working for a media law firm where the client base was made up of music producers, television companies, celebrities and film producers, all making new popular content and entertainment, it seemed a great place to be.
When I first joined the firm in 2003 I was the sole legal counsel for the company. I had two small children then and I was thinking it might be best to work part-time whilst they were pre-school. The opportunity came about to join Shaneel Group on a part-time basis so I took it.
As the Shaneel Group grew, my role has grown with it until I was working as the head of a legal team of four. With family pressures remaining I now work part-time again, working three days per week, as Head of Intellectual Property.
My private practice background was heavy in intellectual property, having trained and qualified with the London media firm Davenport Lyons and later spending nearly six years in Ashurst’s IP team. The opportunity to join Shaneel actually arose because the business was a client of Ashurst.
Moving in-house, I broadened out to do more commercial as well as intellectual property work. The Shaneel Group team is now led by our Head of Legal, Craig Havard, and in addition to myself it includes a legal counsel, a trainee solicitor and a paralegal.
Craig and I report to the Chief Executive and have a close working relationship with the board of directors. The business is family-owned and it’s actually like a family – it’s a very friendly place to work and lawyers are an integral part of the commercial team.
Every day we have many face-to-face meetings with the marketing, sales, production and new product development teams. The whole legal team, though, takes a very strategic approach to work and we’re certainly not just reactive.
In fact, the business relies on us to think ahead and we have all the necessary processes in place to create an optimal environment in which to operate.
Obviously sometimes situations might arise that require a fast response but, for the most part, we aim to have regular meetings and deal with issues in a rotational manner. For example, the advertising and content we need to look at is provided to us on a rolling fortnightly basis.
Seeing it through
When I first started out in IP as a 22-year-old law graduate I felt it was a really exciting area to be working in. In particular, working for a media law firm where the client base was made up of music producers, television companies, celebrities and film producers, all making new popular content and entertainment, it seemed a great place to be. Now, though, I think the most enjoyable part of the job is being part of projects from their beginning right through to their fruition.
I get to see projects start as the very first few ideas on a piece of paper from the new product development team and I work with them to clear trade marks and review the packaging, negotiating contracts with service providers along the way, and eventually I will see the campaign messaging go out and the product being well received in-store. It’s very satisfying to feel you played a part in that success.
The business relies on us to think ahead and we have all the necessary processes in place to create an optimal environment in which to operate.
As I mentioned, the Shaneel Group is a very friendly place to work, with a real family culture. We have a really sociable common room for meeting up at lunch, equipped with a full-size snooker table, two table tennis tables and a darts board.
At the end of the working day I have another long commute back home. When I get home we ensure that, as a family, we sit down to an evening meal together and share stories about our days and we have laughs and I really enjoy this catch up.
Our two elder children aren’t always at home but our youngest is 14 so she always joins us. And after all that I’ll probably put my feet up, turn the television on and watch something like Bake Off, or any Jed Mercurio drama – eg Line of Duty!