Keep reading to check out our interview with PJ Delaye, C.O.O of York Wall-coverings/Roommates!
1. How did Roommates Peel and Stick get started in the wall decor business?
Actually, it was kind of by accident. RoomMates started as a tiny product line (5 items only!) from York Wallcoverings (the largest wallpaper manufacturer in North America). We quickly noticed how well these items were doing (all 5 of them quickly climbed to our top 10 – and for a company that had over 15,000 items in the marketplace, it was quite a revealing trend). Due to these encouraging initial results, it dawned upon us that this product category probably had some “strong wind.” As we started digging deeper, we started understanding why consumers reacted so well to this first product round: Wall decals push all the right “consumer buttons”. Today’s consumer is pressed-for-time, strapped-for-cash and doesn’t want to commit to anything forever (and even less to a specific decorating trend – especially when you’re talking about a kids room where the audience’s taste changes even more rapidly!). Wall decals are a) fast and easy b) affordable and c) the ultimate non-committal decorating product! Armed with this information, we thought that instead of treating wall decals like “yet another product line” from York, there was enough potential to treat this as a “business on its own right”. So in Spring 2006, we created a separate division – called RoomMates – with its own management, design and sales teams. This set-up enabled us to bring a lot of focus to the business.
2. What changes have you seen in the industry in the past few years?
The biggest change is undeniably how popular wall decals have become since our inception in 2006. I remember having to explain to people (consumers or retailers) what wall appliques or wall stickers were all about. Not too many people had heard or seen them. Today, wall stickers / wall decals are a staple of room décorating. The market has increased by over 5 fold and consumer awareness by at least 10. With that comes more competition of course – which is a good thing because it keeps the category moving forward with fresh and innovative design and product concepts. What started as a predominantly “kids room” product has now expanded to a whole new range of very cool, sophisticated wall decals (made of a variety of materials) for all around the house and for a much broader target audience. With all this “good”, also comes some “bad”: Unfortunately, you also have some companies that are in the category to make a quick buck and are not committed to bringing quality product out there. So you’ll see average designs printed on sub-par material. I am amazed at the number of companies out there who claim that they offer wall stickers, when in reality, they print on a regular sticker material (which is totally inappropriate for wall applications). So you get a consumer who gets a bad experience with the product and it hurts everyone in the category.
3. What makes Roommates different from other peel and stick stickers out there?
1) Breadth of product: We design and manufacture one of the broadest and most varied ranges of wall decals available under one roof. If you’re looking for a popular kid’s character, we have all your top-shelf names: Disney, Nickelodeon, Star Wars, Sesame Street, Marvel Comics, Warner Bros, DC Comics, Thomas the Train, etc… But if you’re not into cartoons or movie properties, and prefer well-designed generic or lifestyle kids designs, we also offer a huge assortment of all the most popular themes for kids rooms (pirates, butterflies, peace signs, sports, etc..). And for the adults, our “deco” line is growing rapidly (and it’s growing because consumers are voting with their wallets!).
2) Quality: we produce our wall decals on a truly repositionable and removable material engineered specifically for wall applications. No sticky residue! It won’t fall off the walls. And it truly repositions hundreds of times without losing its adhesive properties. We’re really proud of what we put out there and even prouder because ALL of our wall decals are “Made in the U.S.A.”
3) Innovation: When you lead, you must continuously innovate. As I stated before, there’s a lot of new competition – and they keep us sharp and on our toes. So we must always look for the “next best thing” from a design and/or manufacturing standpoint. Take a look at our Disney line of wall decals for example: we added the 3D gems to the Princess group. Glow in the dark light sabers on Star Wars Clone Wars… Dimensional butterflies, etc… But most importantly, leading through great color and design will take you far! Take a look at our famous Scroll Tree that was designed by Deena from Happi Designs. This could be one of the most “viral” kids tree design on the web (and consequently most copied! But nothing comes close to the original)
4) Price point: We’re not in the collectible business. Our mission is to bring great value to consumers. We want to deliver the best “design bang” for the buck.
4. What are your top 5 favorite designs?
1) Scroll Tree: it incarnates everything I just mentioned in your previous question.
2) I’m a comic book geek so any of our giant super heroes, I dig! You’ll have to stay tuned for the upcoming series of Vintage Comic Book Covers that we’re about to launch in a few weeks. I need those in my office!
3) Black Tree Branches: as a deco item, it’s simple, understated but very cool looking and works almost virtually anywhere and regardless of your style (whether you’re more traditional, transitional or contemporary). And the way we engineered this product enables you to create any design you’d like (from a full tree to a simple branch) and get it to fit into any space. Sometimes, there’s beauty in simplicity.
4) Hong Kong Fooey Giant Decal: Did I just date myself now? I actually also like our Giant Cookie Monster!5) Monsters: I don’t know – these bring a smile to my face! I have them on my wall by my computer. They stare at me all day long!
5. Is there any news or upcoming designs you would like to share?
Get ready for a massive launch of new products in the next few weeks. I love seeing new items hitting the marketplace. Of course, you keep your fingers crossed and hope it connects with the audience. But I am very pleased with what our studio has come up with.
We’re like a fine wine, we’re getting better with time.