A blank wall is an opportunity. Like an empty page, a full
sandbox, or an unused website domain, it’s a chance to create
something uniquely your own. That’s the idea behind
WallsNeedLove, an online business devoted to bringing creative design to
But not all opportunities are easy to spot. Sometimes it takes a
little old lady to point them out.
The Writing on the Wall
A hallmark of American commerce has all but faded away. One by
one, businesses flee it, it's doors are shuttered, and another
concrete-commerce-center is abandoned. In 2008, Ali Abrahimia,
founder and CEO of WallsNeedLove, saw the writing on the wall,
and it read, “Why sell in a mall when you can sell on a dot
The writing had been on the wall for quite a while, though. Year
after year, he’d hear market gurus preach about the rise of
online sales at the expense of traditional retail sales. Yet day
after day, he operated a mall kiosk in Nashville, the Music
City, selling customizable car stickers to mall vagrants.
Then a little old lady popped in one day with a request that
brought Ali’s stickers from the window to the wall. She demanded
a sticker emblazoned with the words “Grandchildren welcome,
parents by appointment.” And it wasn’t for her 20 year old
Cadillac—it was to adorn a wall in her home.
Ali obliged, whipped it up for her, and realized wall stickers
were a completely, if not more, viable product to sell. Walls
are everywhere. They’re flat and void of any personality, yet
they surround us in the most personal of spaces: our homes. They
were a perfect opportunity for his personalized stickers. And
thanks to the fact that both are created with the same vinyl
cutter, he could turn his kiosk into a double-edged,
sticker-producing sword that sold car adhesives and wall decals.
But the addition failed to turn the heads of mall wanderers; it
only made them tilt in bewilderment. That’s when Ali decided to
ditch the mall and go AWOL. It was time to move onto the
worldwide web. An online business based entirely on wall decals
was just one of his sticker-inspired ideas thrown against the
wall. And it stuck.
A Product That Sticks Out
Newly-created WallsNeedLove gained as many sales as that old
kiosk in as little as two months. Two things were rapidly
confirmed; ecommerce was definitely the way to go, and
custom-designed wall adhesives were great at un-sticking
The stickers became more sophisticated and diverse over time.
Instead of customizing, WallsNeedLove developed sticker designs
in-house and from various artists, using two different
materials—vinyl and fab-tac—to produce the actual adhesive.
The vinyl material is typically used for simple, quote-like
graphics, or patterns like polka dots. Created by removing
negative space, the design is put on vinyl, cut out, and—
boom—there’s a sticker ready to be stuck somewhere.
Unlike vinyl, which is used once and done forever after removal,
fab-tac is a fabric paper composite material with adhesive
backing that allows it to be removable and reusable. It’s
reserved for more complex, printed products, like murals or
The business also expanded beyond the two-dimensional—other home
belongings need love, too. After covering basic stripes,
wallpapers, and murals, WallsNeedLove most recently entered the
home furnishing space, where customers can take artwork and
apply it to products like pillowcases, blankets, even
Where There’s a Wall, There’s a Way
After experiencing a couple of carts, the business landed on
Shopify, and quickly began to sell on marketplaces like Amazon
and Etsy as well. Other unique channels were eventually added to
its portfolio too, like the app Fancy and niche-specific
platforms such as Wayfair whose markets closely align with the
Once orders began steadily coming in, the brand took form, and
unparalleled design became WallsNeedLove’s mantra. Its decal
designs range from cutting-edge to completely off-the-wall.
Whatever the taste, it’s absolutely essential that each piece
meets the brand and customer’s stylistic standards. The product
is nothing without it.
For validation and inspiration, sales are an obvious indication
of a successful design and product, but social media—Pinterest
and Instagram especially—provides the means to pick up on
popular styles or trends to pursue. WallsNeedLove carefully
curates all of its social content, using each platform to engage
and community-build, but also to test.
Their team has expanded considerably, especially in recent years
as it rides the coattails of ecommerce’s rapid growth and
growing consumer demand for personalization. Ten employees, who
are more like family members than co-workers, whizz around its
busy Nashville office and jam-packed warehouse.
The production tools to get the job done have had some additions
to their team as well. Ali’s good ‘ole vinyl cutter is now
joined by another of its kind, and a total of six printers make
up the business’ artistic arsenal, cranking out an ever-growing
amount of orders.
Some of their tools are made of zeros and ones as well.
WallsNeedLove uses Ordoro to streamline their dropshipping
workflow. By building integrations between Ordoro’s API and
their suppliers, WallsNeedLove is able to seamlessly communicate
with its dropshippers, automatically relaying order information
to and from, like shipping details and tracking information.
Plus, they’re able to rapidly expand the number of products in
their catalog without having to tie up cash buying inventory or
Breaking Down the Walls
In most cases, an online store is simply another avenue to
transact with customers. A merchant buys, then sells, and makes
some cash. But WallsNeedLove doesn’t quite fit this bill. They
aren’t money-swappers. They’re a community centered around
artistic passion and expression.
The ABC’s of WallsNeedLove’s business model—artist, blogger, and
customer—provide it with a community where everyone benefits.
These aren’t partnerships where it’s like talking to a brick
wall. Each piece is part of an ecosystem that works together to
turn one’s home into one’s own.
Given the brand’s emphasis on design, artists are an essential,
invaluable part of the business. Through a friend of a friend,
mentions on a blog and social media posts, research, or direct
contact, WallsNeedLove recruits and contracts top-tier artists
who generate work that matches its customers’ tastes. They send
their work over, WallsNeedLove produces it on its products, and
the artist gets a cut of every sale that features their
Stellar style is one way to market a product, but sometimes
words do the job just as well, especially when they’re on other
domains. A fundamental part of WallsNeedLove’s success is its
network of bloggers. Outreach to content creators in home design
has proven amazingly useful from the get-go, with popular
bloggers experiencing, praising, and—most importantly—getting
the word out about the product.
And then there’s the customer, the very reason for all of this.
Community isn’t lost on them either. As they personalize their
homes, proudly inviting friends and family over for a visit and
sharing their handiwork on social media (just check out
#wallsneedlove), they’re introducing WallsNeedLove and the
artists to their own personal community.
Walls Need Love
WallsNeedLove isn’t just a business; it’s a mission statement.
That last word in the company name is taken seriously. At its
core, WallsNeedLove is an appreciation of art and a commitment
to expressing it on whatever surface possible.
What better place to apply it than that bland, blank canvas of a
wall? With its origin as a kiosk aiming to bring a personal
touch to our four-wheeled friends, WallsNeedLove has gone from
the garage to the home with the very same mission. And that’s
exactly where the heart is.
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