Not more decorative wall art? Yes! Super trendy it might be. But the market was well and truly defined when vinyl wall art appeared in the ‘Next’ Spring 2013 catalogue for the first time.
I was already running Stickers4Walls by then, making use of the vinyl cutting machines that fuelled my day job – sign writing. Sales added a few valuable £100’s to my pocket every month in return for a mad day or two designing/manipulating popular wall sayings and images. But it was work I personally didn’t enjoy. Designing van graphics – yes, but wall art and the mad rush to create a half dozen new designs every month with no input from customers, no inspiration other than Pinterest – no, not for me.
So I decided to get serious and hire a designer. A request on Facebook gave me two potential ladies, both looking for flexible working hours to fit around their family commitments and both living close to my base in Chichester. Which is how I met Lissie – designer extra-ordinaire, who also has huge talent in social media and customer service. A real stroke of luck. She also is a passionate fan of wall stickers. We clicked immediately.
Having Lissie on board gave me new eyes for the business. We ordered products from the bigger competitors in the market and were surprised by two things:
• The size of the actual product received bore little or no relation to the digitally created pictures used on the webpages
• The quality of the vinyl was poor.
Much was very thin, making it difficult to apply, easy to accidentally tear (even for expert installers like ourselves) and very static. Worse still, one of the largest companies in the market was creating fantastic printed graphics, but wasn’t using uv protected ink. So within weeks, a graphic in direct sun would fade out really quickly.
But how to you explain to a customer that seemingly identical products are priced differently because of the quality? Of vinyl? No, instant gratification at the cheapest possible price seemed to be only interest of the mass market. It was all in the design, not the quality.
And then the lightbulb moment . . . and it came from the most unexpected of places!