Visitors to Danny Vegh’s Home Entertainment location in Mayfield Heights may assume that store president and chief executive officer Kathy Vegh leads a life as fun-filled as the recreational spaces she furnishes. A girly second-floor showroom features a 9-by-10-foot wall covered in a collage of approximately 250 photographs, all taken in the many places she has visited with her entrepreneur husband and their 3-year-old daughter. In one, the little girl gazes at the camera from her father’s arms, the iconic houses of Parliament in London behind them. In yet another, she and her mother pose on a Florida beach with her maternal grandmother and store-founding grandfather, table-tennis champ Danny Vegh.
But the collage is actually a personalized wallpaper Vegh developed and began marketing late last year under the name My Heart Wall — a for-profit and fundraiser born of her worst nightmare. During her 22nd week of pregnancy, Vegh and her husband learned their only child had a congenital heart defect. The prognosis was good, thanks to surgery performed eight days after her May 2013 birth. But the joy of taking the baby home from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston was tempered by the knowledge of how fragile life could be.
“When you have a child with a CHD, at least with her situation, there was this unwritten rule — and we felt it at home — where after a year, once she makes it through that milestone, we’ll know that she’s doing really well and in good shape,” Vegh explains.
Reaching that milestone inspired Vegh to create a tribute to her and her husband’s families on an entry-hall wall of their Gates Mills home. Over the next year she selected images ranging from parents’ wedding pictures to her daughter’s first-birthday snapshots, then asked a printer if he could produce a black-and-white collage of them on wallcovering.
“Every walk of life that has come to my home, whether it was an electrician or a really well-known business person — young, old, it didn’t matter — everyone was like, ‘Where did you get that wall?’ ” Vegh recalls.
It took a year of guests’ compliments to make Vegh realize she’d stumbled upon a great innovation. She hired vendors to design a logo and website where customers could upload digital photos to create a mural, collage or mosaic. (The last is a main image “populated” by smaller photos.) The wallcoverings are printed in black-and-white, sepia tone or color on a choice of eight textures, three of which can be removed and rehung.
The median price for a wallcovering is $600 to $1,000. Five percent of sales is donated to the pediatric cardiology departments of Cleveland Clinic and Texas Children’s Hospital and Chicago-based Children’s Heart Foundation for pediatric heart research and treatment, along with Ronald McDonald Houses.
“I really want to make this company not only successful for the typical reasons but for the bigger reason of helping other kids,” Vegh says. “And, frankly, it may even help my daughter down the road.”