TL;DR I’m starting a new business in the art space—helping to support emerging artists and making art more accessible. If you like what you see, I’d be INCREDIBLY appreciate if you’d like/comment/share and help get out the word. / @thewallaceartco


A few years back a friend called to say “You know your problem. You have no passions.” I was defensive and a little unsure what he meant—Building pitch decks wasn’t a passion? 

My friend wasn’t entirely wrong. For most of my adult life, my sense of self was so intertwined with my professional identity that I neglected to contemplate what else made me tick. At the very least, I needed fresh professional challenges or a hobby—I was very single and professionally stagnated in the business I’d started several years prior.

So I approached my passion pursuit with the same systematic process typically reserved for solving work problems. I made a list of potential passions, evaluated each, and set out to do some rapid prototyping. I WAS able to cross off gardening, journaling, and car repair.

A few months later, frustrated I still hadn’t found my passion, I figured I had to pick one. I could barely cat-cow, but I resolved that yoga was my thing—It sounded like as good a passion as any. Despite my valiant attempts, I’m inflexible and uncoordinated, so that was a terrible idea.


Around this time, a good friend—we’ll call her Maya—had just moved into a lovely apartment after breaking up with her boyfriend of six years. She had good taste, well-curated furniture, and everyone loved the smell of her Diptyque candles. I particularly appreciated her bold choice of a Tiffany blue sofa and her vintage Breuer chairs. But her apartment felt cold. She’d hung paintings that were her grandmother’s and a few photographs she bought in India and Egypt, but most of her walls were empty. 

When I wasn’t working or practicing my Virabhadrasana, I found myself thinking a lot about art and interior design. I remembered years prior a friend dragged me to an artist commune in New Jersey. I have two distinct memories. One was being taken into a dingy bedroom where Lady Gaga apparently recorded tracks for her first album. Very random and unrelated to this story. The second was meeting Muriel Favaro. Muriel had designed some of the first Kate and Jake Spade bags. Despite success as a fashion designer, she was never a commercially successful artist in her own right. And yet, Muriel’s pieces were fantastic. She created these geometric etchings that managed to evoke calm and tranquility, while simultaneously bringing energy and warmth to a space. And her pieces each had a unique narrative. I suggested Maya buy a Muriel piece. 

Maya was in the other room when I was helping her hang her new art. I stepped back, stared at the etching, and looked around the room. To my surprise, I had the same butterflies typically reserved for a first date. And then a TEAR or two trickled down my cheek. I walked over to the closest mirror and said to myself “Listro, get yourself together. This is ridiculous. Why are you crying?” 

Maya walked in and paused to look at the piece. I turned around, so she wouldn’t see me crying. But I could see her tear up a little, too. “Why am I crying?” she said. “This place is finally starting to feel like a home, huh? I never thought art could have that sort of emotional impact.”

I am not generally a crier—except for the occasional Nora Ephron movie. And intellectually, the idea of crying at a piece of art feels ridiculous. But underneath it all, there was something special about the emotional impact art could have in creating a sense of belonging and a sense of home. I also loved how Maya connected with Muriel’s story. 

I soon found myself staying up late learning about other emerging artists. What never made sense was the inexplicable dichotomy. When it comes to wall art, everyone says “nice art is expensive, and affordable art isn’t nice.” And yet, you have so many incredibly talented artists struggling to sell their work. I thought back to learning in school about Van Gogh, who only sold a single painting in his lifetime. 


For many years I’d run a consultancy to help growth-stage startups go-to-market—taking ideas on a napkin and turning them into viable businesses. I don’t have a single artistic bone in my body, but I wondered if there were ways I could also help artists get out the word. 

But was there a business here? And was I the one to start it? The last thing I wanted to do was swoop in and tell artists how to do their thing. And I certainly didn’t profess to have all of the answers.

So I spent a lot of time listening to folks with deep experience in the art world. In particular, I spoke to artists to understand if and where they needed help promoting their work. Many expressed challenges with reaching new audiences and in dealing with some of the backend logistics that distract from creating art. As I dug into those challenges, I learned there were simple sourcing and supply chain tweaks that could expose incredible artists to a wide audience at a price point that could empower the buyer and benefit the artist. 

I also spent a lot of time trying to understand more about consumer needs. And it was clear that many folks struggled in a few areas. A. Finding reasonably priced quality, art. B. Curation—nobody wants to sort through 100K+ pieces, and C. Wanting to learn more about the story behind a piece and connect with artists.

But I still wondered if this was the right business for me. I love building companies, and I’ve spent most of my career launching B2B tech startups. But I’d never built a D2C brand before. I was also reluctant to raise venture funding, particularly in this market—Capital is hard to come by, and many former D2C darlings are floundering. 

The alternative was a lifestyle business, which are often perceived as the ugly ducklings of the startup world. For years I shied away from them. But as I dug into the details, I realized the potential to build profitable companies with solid fundamentals.

So, in the Lean Startup spirit of hypothesis-driven experimentation and iteration (it might not work for passions, but it does for businesses), I’ve spent the last several months running a series of tests to gauge the viability of an art business. 

And that’s gotten us to where we are today. This business will invariably evolve, and additional market feedback may push us in a different direction—or to do something entirely different. But I hope you’ll take a look at our site ( and be part of charting the course we take. 

If you’ve gotten this far and are wondering what this business actually does…In short, Wallace offers rotating shoppable art exhibitions, helping connect folks with super talented emerging artists. We aim to make it easy to find curated pieces that look great in your home. 

In the process, we aspire to be more than an ecommerce store or art gallery—creating a community of artists and art lovers. We’ve already planned a number of events (both virtual and IRL), like artist meet and greets, gallery tours, and more. We also aim to teach folks a thing or two about collecting art, so buying art doesn’t feel so daunting. 

I can’t guarantee we’ll make you cry like Maya, but we’re here to help you forge a connection with some incredible artists and make your home feel a little bit more like a reflection of you. 

I don’t work any less hard, but starting a lifestyle business gave me some headspace to stumble upon something which makes me wake up in the middle of the night—not because I’m panicked but because I’m excited. 

People always tell me you find love when you stop looking for it. I’m still single, but maybe they’re onto something. 



P.S. Wallace is still in Beta, with much more to come, including an AI art advisor. Any feedback is welcome!

April 24, 2024 — Matthew Listro

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