Our Story

We are David and Alicia, and together, we have built Dali Wall Decals from the ground up. David had been working in the graphic design, web development and marketing fields for quite some time before Dali was even a thought, and I was a high school teacher, working with children with learning disabilities, as well as teaching 9th grade Geography. We both came from entrepreneurial backgrounds, with family-owned businesses being all we knew while growing up. It was only a matter of time before we discovered our own niche in the world! Here’s how it started:

Dave and I actually met because we both rode sport bikes and it was one of our favorite things to do together! At the end of 2006, we set out on a mission - to find decals for our motorcycles. Since we both loved to ride our bikes at the track, Dave wanted to add some cool graphics to his bike and make it look like a race replica. We found it nearly impossible to get what we were looking for from any of the local motorcycle shops. We visited several stores searching for the perfect decals, from all the way up in West Palm Beach to all the way down in South Miami, and found nothing that would work. After much frustration, we turned to a friend of ours who had a small hobby-size vinyl cutter. He let us borrow it and Dave went to work, utilizing his graphic design skills in the process. A week and a bike full of decals later, our mission was accomplished! We had created the race replica that Dave had wanted!

We couldn't let it stop there. This was too exciting! We gratefully returned the borrowed cutter to our friend and decided to purchase one for ourselves. This was a big investment for us and we were a little nervous about the initial expense, but after a few months, our new cutter - lovingly named "The Money Machine" - was beginning to pay for itself by way of making decals for friends' bikes, their cars and even for their businesses! We came up with the name Badass Custom Decals, because every time someone saw something we had created, there was a similar exclamation.. "Wow, that's so badass!" It was perfect. We began marketing ourselves and really growing our little hobby into something worthwhile.

Almost exactly one year later, in the middle of completing a friend's four-color reflective design on his van, another friend of ours, Katie, asked us if we made wall decals. We were caught off guard. What are wall decals? Dave and I were instantly intrigued by the idea and began our research. I immediately went to a favorite marketplace website of mine and searched for wall decals. Dozens of results came up!

After a little more research, we discovered the material we had been using all along was actually a better quality than what was being used by other wall decal sellers, and I wanted to personally try it on our walls before trying to sell our designs. I carefully selected which design we would use, and Wispy Sea Grass (Wispy Sea Grass! http://dalidecals.com/Wispy-Sea-Grass-Vinyl-Wall-Decals.html ) was the winner. And best of all, it worked! We were officially decorating our home with our own wall decals! Dave often jokes that the next thing he knew, he walked out of his office and there was grass lining the hallway. Since I had already known about this great site as I had previously sold some of my handmade soap and jewelry there with a fair amount of success, I wasted no time and created a shop for Badass and began listing items. It was an instant hit!

We officially opened up Badass Custom Decals on March 18th, 2008. Exactly 3 months and 150 online sales later, we decided we needed to create a more 'family-friendly' name, something that would appeal to broader market. We chose to combine our names, David and Alicia, and Dali Decals was born. Shortly after this, we decided it was time to expand and branch out from the online marketplace we were a part of, and build our own website. Our "hobby-turned-business" had grown so much in that short amount of time, that I had to give notice during the summertime that I wouldn't be returning to teach in the Fall. It was a big and risky decision, but I wouldn't have been able split my time fairly between teaching and our rapidly growing new business.

Since that time, we have expanded our business and our production space on more than one occasion. We initially started out of a spare bedroom in my little home in Fort Lauderdale. After awhile, we decided to consolidate our homes and simultaneously 'expand' the business, so I moved in with Dave. His home was larger and came complete with a big and open area perfect for our steadily growing little business. This solution sufficed for about a year and a half, until we decided to take the plunge and relocate to Asheville, NC, where we found a home with a big, finished, walk-out basement that was perfect for our still-expanding business.

We had both quit our 'real jobs' and sunk every waking minute into making Dali Decals successful! It was at this point where we decided we absolutely needed to hire employees, as the work became too much for just the two of us (and my wonderful mom, who I wouldn't let leave after she helped us move!) to complete on a day to day basis. We hired our first permanent employee, Marisa, straight off of Craigslist after a coffee shop interview and I began to teach her everything I knew about wall decals, customer service, and graphic design.

Our basement idea lasted for 3 short months, and we found ourselves needing to expand again. We happened across this amazing 100+ year old cotton mill turned business park, and were lucky enough to find a 2000 square foot space available. It was perfect! In this time, we hired more people, purchased more machines, and really solidified ourselves as a leader in the wall decal industry. We prided ourselves on our customer service (still do!) and we literally worked around the clock to make sure that all of our orders were filled and emails were answered quickly.

Dave and I were still stretched thin, working long hours at 'the factory', only to come home and work into the early hours of the morning. We answered phones seemingly 24/7, even jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to answer calls coming in from the West coast or overseas. In addition to manning the phones around the clock, we managed all the customer emails, created custom graphics and new products, and continuously worked to grow the business. We hired more people, and dubbed Marisa, one of our original employees, our official "Production Manager". She also worked tirelessly alongside us, into the wee hours, making sure every last email was answered, and each and every customer was 100% satisfied with their order.

Fast forward a bit.. while we found Asheville and the surrounding areas to be beautiful and nothing like what we were used to in Florida, the area really had its downfalls. Our biggest problems with the state of North Carolina were state income taxes (there aren't any in FL!) and the snow! (At least I considered the snow to be a downfall.. definitely not my thing.)

Our first winter, right when we moved there, we were informed that "this was the worst winter in years, and nobody had seen anything like it in ages!" Okay.. fine, we'll stick it out. It was fun, a novelty! We had nowhere to drive to anyway, we worked out of the basement at the time. We survived the first winter, found Spring, Summer and Fall to be outstanding, but when our second Winter in Asheville came around, the new story was that this was the worst winter anyone had seen in ages! I was honestly fed up with it. I was tired of being cold, tired of driving in the snow, and tired of having to wear gloves, wool socks and my snuggie while working on the computer. Florida Kid Problems.

Dave and I had already been talking about the possibility of relocating back to Florida. We had discussed it with our employees months in advance, letting them know about the potential company relocation. We went back and forth with everyone, helping them weigh their options of such a large move. In the end, Marisa was the only one who was able to relocate with us, so with this in mind, Dave and I set out to find that perfect spot in Florida where we wanted to continue growing Dali Decals.

We decided to check out the Jacksonville area and it was there that we began our search. When we got in, it was late at night on Christmas Day (Merry Christmas to me!) During the few days we were in the area, we not only found a place to live but we also found a new warehouse space that could accommodate the growth of Dali Decals. We headed back to Asheville, NC with new goals. We had a lot of work ahead of us, and we only had about 2 months to do it!

Towards the end of February 2010, we were all packed up and ready to go. What had only taken couple Penske trucks and a motorcycle trailer to move up 13 months prior, had now filled 4 big Uhaul trailers, another 26ft Penske truck, and an entire 53' tractor trailer (the double decker kind!) packed completely to the roof. All of these trucks and trailers housed the entire business; the computers, the machines, all of our boxes and boxes of material, as well as our personal stuff and contents from our home and Marisa’s home, as well. It was a pretty impressive ordeal, and it took us almost 24 hours non stop loading up the trucks in the wet, snowy, and freezing cold weather. We slept our last night in an empty house on an air mattress with our two Dali dogs, Tex and Sammi, and rose a few short hours later to leave Asheville behind for good.

Dave has often remarked how cool it was to see the line of trucks caravaning along in front. He drove the Penske truck and brought up the rear, and could see each of us twisting and turning down the winding mountain roads, just like a snake. Our trusty and amazing truck driver/mover, Mike Garrett, barely made it through the state border, since his truck was almost over capacity. I don't think he knew what he was getting into when he took on our move, but he said he loved the challenge. We really couldn't have done it without him!

So.. as I sit here and write this, it's been almost four years since we moved back to Florida. Time keeps flying by and I keep saying it, but it really keeps baffling me. Our time here has gone by so quickly and I'm so excited to be a part of this area. We really love being back in Florida, and it's nice to settle in to a place where we truly want to be. All the moving and scrambling has finally stopped, and we can continue to focus on growing, expanding and becoming better, not only as a company but as a team.

Since being back in Florida, we've continued to build our empire. We are now operating out of a 7200+ square foot facility where both Print and Cut Production are housed. In addition to our production spaces, we also have our workshop, showroom, and offices housed here. Our line of equipment and services have both expanded and grown quite a bit, which means we can offer even cooler and more innovative stuff to our customers. We have taken the business of ‘sign making’ and turned it into an art and a way of displaying really great ideas in a really cool, unique manner.

When we moved back to Florida, we were still pretty much a “cut vinyl” company. It was only a matter of months until we caved and bought our first wide format eco-solvent inkjet printer, the Roland (SolJET III XC-540MT) and expansion began all over again. Once we bought the printer, it really opened up the doors for even greater design and creative opportunities for us. We now had a printer that could print white (an incredibly huge deal at the time) and it could also print metallic inks! We are still one of the only companies authorized in our region to print with metallic inks, something that’s just not seen regularly. The metallic inks, when incorporated in with regular printing, make the prints almost surreal-like, creating very ethereal finishes and images. It’s quite spectacular.

Soon after the Roland purchase, we expanded into a second warehouse space in the same business park, and that whole side soon became the “Boys’ Side”, since it was mainly a bunch of dudes over there working and playing away. Our side, the “Girls’ Side”, ran all the cut production, most of the customer service, and it’s where Tex and Sammi could almost always be found. On the Girls’ Side, it was non stop cutting, weeding, transferring, tubing and shipping. Phones rang all day, emails were being answered non stop, it was an intense whirlwind of colors, customer service, laughter, dogs barking and fun music. We were determined to get our jobs done efficiently while still meeting and exceeding everyone’s expectations.

Over on the Boys’ Side, the wheels were turning and it was decided that we needed more equipment to increase our product lines, yet again. We bought our Epson GS6000 wide format printer, which utilized CMYK colors, as well as Green and Orange, which was unheard of in the print/digital media industry. The color gamut our Epson was capable of such a broader range than most people were used to seeing, and the vivid hues it produced were simply incredible. Printing canvas became an entirely new experience, and our abilities with colors were taken to the next level.

Now that we were becoming so familiar with the print aspect of our industry, we pushed our limits even more, and decided that we needed a UV ink flatbed printer to add to our mix. Enter in the Rastek h650 efi flatbed UV printer. Our limits to what we could print were just blown out of the park. We went from being able to print solely on rolled material to anything up to an inch and a half thick. We’re talking doors, ceiling tiles, metal, glass, cork, pretty much anything! Yes, we printed a ceiling tile. We just had to see if it would work! We narrowed down the list of what we wanted to offer vs what we were capable of. We focused on acrylic, wood, and aluminum prints; things that people could purchase easily right on the website, and in turn, we could take their photos and graphics and print them right onto these substrates and ship them off. These items became instant, personalized art. It was like bringing Instagram to life.

The history of Dali Decals by itself is a whirlwind. The days become weeks which become months which become years. And here we are, almost a decade into the business and several locations and expansions later, still trying to figure out what else we can do, what else will be really awesome, and how to continuously improve our current offerings. We still stand by our same basic principles of offering really great products and even better customer service. Happy customers have always been our #1 goal, and we haven’t lost sight of that.

 
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