Lilliam Pollard, who is from Brazil, founded E-Walls two years ago in Dubai. Her company makes decorative stickers used by businesses and individuals to brighten and customise their interiors. We spoke to her recently about her designs.
How did you get started?
I was looking around for some stickers and I actually couldn't find them anywhere here. So I bought some on eBay. And that's where the inspiration came from. I researched it - not with the idea of starting a business but out of curiosity. I started two years ago when I was working full-time and I did this on the evenings and weekends. For five years I was working in a marketing department but the job was increasingly admin-focused. I am a creative person and wanted to do something creative.
And do you design the stickers?
I've designed a lot of them. That is the fun part of the job. I also use stock images. I bought the equipment and supplies. I have a big roll of vinyl and the machine cuts whatever the computer tells it to. We started with eight colours but that's up to 20-plus now.
And who are your customers?
I thought the biggest market would be children but it is not the case. People often do not want to spend a lot on furniture so they buy, for example, a white table from Ikea then use the stickers to customise it. I have quite a few people who change their designs every month. Shops also use my stickers, for example on special occasions such as Valentine's Day. I find they want to interact with their customers somehow. That's very popular now. Most of my customers are in the UAE, but I also have some international customers as well: in South Africa, Germany, the UK and Canada. I don't think I had expected it to be as popular as it is but I am very proud of it obviously.
And you have an Arabic line, don't you?
Yes. I don't speak or write Arabic but I got a couple of designs from stock images. Then, I got them translated to make sure they weren't rude. But just today I spoke to an Arabic calligrapher, so we may collaborate.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. From looking in magazines, from things people saying things, inspirational quotes, random things on the street.
You were a finalist in the SMEinfo Awards in the RSA Start-up Business of the Year category. Was that important for you?
That was actually the point we decided: we need to go big. To make a bold move and go big or go home. I quit my job at the start of 2012. In 2013, we are hiring more people and looking at going into other businesses not necessarily in the UAE.
People should go after their dreams. Find what they are passionate about and go for it. It's not easy to quit your salary but it's so much more rewarding.