Olney man shifts gears, creates successful wall art business -- Gazette.Net


Jason M. Weisenthal was working in the children’s shoe business in New Jersey when he moved his family to Maryland five years ago. With the move, he was looking for a new business venture.

At about that time, FatHeads removable wall decals became popular, featuring life-size, removable decals of professional athletes.

“Those were cool, but I thought that custom designs would be even cooler — I wanted to see my kid on the wall playing baseball,” Weisenthal said.

From there, WallMonkeys was launched — aimed at moms and dads and their kids who played sports.

It was a slow start. Weisenthal said he made little money for the first two years. The business moved from his New Jersey basement to his Olney basement.

It wasn’t until the company increased its content that things turned around. In addition to custom images of children playing baseball or a company logo, the company now offers more than 20 million images from suppliers including National Geographic, Getty Images, Corbis and Fotolia.

“From there, it just became a matter of marketing our product,” Weisenthal said. “It’s all e-commerce — we sell on our website, Amazon, Buy.com, and we get business from everywhere.”

The company now operates out of a 2,500-square-foot office in Kensington, boasting four printers and seven employees.

Weisenthal said big sellers include animals, fine art and designs such as a hamburger or a cup of coffee for a restaurant, Noah’s Ark for a nursery, and maps and periodic tables for schools. Customers can choose one of the company’s images, or upload their own, and they usually are shipped within 48 hours.

“It’s a unique business model. We hold no inventory, so we don’t print anything until the order comes in,” he said. “If you want a dog to be 24 inches tall, that is exactly how we will print it.”

The materials are all made in the U.S. and are recyclable, and the inks are eco-friendly, he said. The decals are lightweight and affordable, apply easily and remove easily. In addition to walls, they stick to other surfaces, including cars, mirrors and bricks.

“The material we use is not cheap vinyl. It has a fabric in it,” Weisenthal said. “It can wrap around columns or hard corners, and it can be moved again and again without leaving any marks.”

The decals range from 18 inches to 6 feet, and cost from about $25 to $100.

He said many companies use the products for branding and trade show marketing, rather than as conventional promotional materials.

Weisenthal said he has printed items for many Fortune 500 companies. Recent customers include Bank of America, Neiman Marcus and Ethan Allan.

Weisenthal declined to provide sales figures, but said the company doubled its business last year, and he sees no reason why it can’t double again this year.

“I certainly thought it would be successful, but it just took a while to find the right angle,” he said. “It’s so much fun to see it getting bigger. We are just getting started at reaching our target audience. People love our product. We just need to get it in front of more people.”

He credits a big part of the company’s success to its customer service, helping each customer find exactly what he is looking for.

“I live this and I love this,” he said. “I love the Internet, and seeing how well we can play this game.”

For more information, go to www.wallmonkeys.com.