This post originally ran on Free People's blog. Check out the interview below!
Two sisters: both beautiful and fashionable. Both smart, kind and easy-going. Both social babes... LA 'it girls,' if you will. But what makes them so different from the next stylish girl in vintage Levis, you ask? Devon and Sydney are co-founders of their own business. And they aren't even 23. "I graduated high school about 1 1/2 years ago and, instead of following the college route, I jumped into building my own business," says Sydney. With her long jet black hair reflecting the hot downtown sun, she adds, "Even though I'm only 19 I feel like I've already experienced so much. I'm working every day, while carving out time to have a 19-year-old life... on top of handling a business, my own career, social media, becoming independent and still trying to be a role model to others along the way. I've always been the shy, introverted type. So even though I may be quiet on the outside, my mind is constantly running with thoughts. I'm not too sure how my life got here, but I'm so happy it did!"
If Sydney says she is the shy one, then it might be safe to say that her older sister Devon got the extroverted genes. Upon meeting her, I was greeted with a mega-watt smile and a healthy handshake. Her baby blues were as striking as her energetic smile. "I LOVE fashion. Vintage shopping and searching for unique pieces is my favorite thing to do. Outside of Wildflower, I love to hang out with my dog, try new restaurants and talk to people. I love random conversations with strangers!"
Get to know these two sisters, their company, and how Miley Cyrus helped launch Wildflower Cases, now available all over the world.
Can you tell us how Wildflower first started? When was the moment you realized you wanted to make cell phone cases?
Devon: My mother has always been the craftiest mom on the block. She would make my sister and me studded shorts -- fabric on one side, studs on the other. Then she got the idea to make us matching phone cases with fabric and studs because it was nearly impossible to find cute phone cases for our iPhone 4's (4 years ago).
When she surprised us with her handmade cases we FREAKED out. We came up with a bunch more designs, instantly. They were like nothing I'd ever seen before. Next thing I knew, all the girls at our school wanted our cases. My mom started making extras and keeping them in her purse in case someone wanted to buy them off of her!
One evening my family went out to dinner and my sister and I got up to go to the bathroom. While waiting in line, Miley Cyrus walked out of the bathroom stall. Miley Cyrus was (and still is) one of my idols. I felt like I had to ask for a photo, so I did. While taking the photo Miley immediately noticed my phone case, freaked out and asked where I got it. I told her my mom made it for me and she asked to meet my mom. She walked up to our table and told my mom, "these cases are AMAZING and you need start a company because these phone cases are the cutest things ever!"
Then, Miley tweeted a photo of our cases and tagged me. I got swarmed with responses asking where to buy the cases! My mom named the company Wildflower after young girls like Miley who are free spirited, independent and driven to succeed in life. Thankfully my dad is a graphic designer, so he stayed up all night -- 'til 5am -- and made a website. In the morning I started replying to everyone on Twitter with "wildflowercases.com". We immediately started getting orders and I guess the rest is history. I believe Miley was there to motivate my mom to start this business with us. It was meant to be and we love Miley forever for it.
Sydney: We loved them (the cases) so much! But not just us, everyone around us. Nobody had seen anything like this before and it got to the point where we would get stopped in the mall and asked where we got our cases.
Devon had always been the biggest Miley fan, even since the Hannah Montana days, so she had to ask for a photo. I took the photo with my phone, which had the case my mom made on it. Miley saw it and freaked out! We had a company overnight just by the power of one tweet. It truly was fate and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. We love Miley for motivating my mom to start a company.
I read that social media has been a huge success for Wildflower -- can you share what social media means for your marketing campaigns?
S: Wildflower has really opened my eyes to the world of social media. I mean, I knew it was huge but didn't realize, until I was on the business end, how big it really is. Brands nowadays turn to Instagram, YouTubers and social media influencers for marketing. Because it works! Luckily for us, these people genuinely love and adore our cases and want to post without us even asking and we love them for it! I've met and have created so many new amazing friendships throughout this world because of social media. If you use it the right way it really can benefit your brand!
D: Wildflower was pretty much created on social media, day one. Since my sister and I were 14 and 17 years old at the time, it only made sense to create an Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. for Wildflower. I never really looked at social media as "advertising/marketing" until about 2 years ago. We would just post cute photos of our outfits along with the cases and people seemed to like it.
Now social media is a necessity in the business world. Whenever I first hear of a company, I'll usually look them up on Instagram before looking up their website. I think the key to gaining success on social media is creating a vibe and staying true to yourself and your brand. It is important to be authentic and real.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
S: The thing that makes working for Wildflower so fun for me is the act that every day is something new. Usually throughout the day I'm designing, researching and coming up with new ideas and ways to make our brand the best it can be. Not to mention I'm learning so much along the way... it's like college in real life haha.
D: I work from home! I wake up every morning between 8am/9am, make coffee and start replying to emails and work on brand marketing for a few hours. Then I usually take my dog on a walk and grab some lunch. Then I'll come back home and search the internet for Wildflower inspo and design cases, plan for upcoming events, campaigns, etc.
How does Wildflower stand out in a sea of competitors?
D: We got started on the fashion iPhone case trend at the right time, and we've built the best loyal customers on our social media. Also, all of our cases are limited edition, so we will only do limited runs of certain designs. It allows them to be unique, special and sometimes hard to find because they sell out so fast.
S: Wildflower connects with all of our customers and supporters on more of a personal level. We love talking and replying to people and try to make everything as if we're all just friends! That's a big part of why I think we can connect so well with our audience -- we are all around the same age and we love to help each other out. It's just one big Wildflower family.
What has been your biggest success up until this point? Challenge?
D: Our biggest success is starting this business from two handmade cases my mom made and, 4 years later, we're sold world-wide in stores and online. From Dubai to Japan to NYC, in big and small stores. Selling Wildflower cases in Free People was our goal once we knew we had something special. We've always felt Wildflower and FP were such a good fit.
S: It's crazy to me that there are girls across the world that use our cases. I designed a case that somebody wants? I'm so thankful for that. The challenge is finding enough time to do everything. It seems like with work, friends, career... I'm so busy but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so thankful for what I get to do every day.
D: The challenge is creating the next trend. I really like to take chances with our designs and not stay the typical course or trends that other brands do. It's a more difficult approach but that's what makes Wildflower so unique. That said, it's a true blessing that I (my family) get to wake up and do what I do every day. I love it.
You ladies are huge social media influencers. What do you think makes an "it-girl?"
D: I think you just have to be yourself and be confident. Don't worry about what other people think about you. That's not your job. Just focus on your dreams, desires and find happiness in everything.
S: In this generation, everyone (especially the younger people our ages) have so much opportunity right in front of them. To me, an "it-girl" is that person who is motivated, wants to be successful and inspire others to do the same. It makes me so happy when I see people telling me I inspire and motivate them, it is encouragement to work even harder! I think it's so important to always be a role model, have big visions and goals, yet inspire others along the way.
Who are some of your fashion icons?
D: My fashion icons are my friends and my boyfriend. They all have such great taste. I'm also obsessed with 90s supermodels, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Rihanna (duh).
S: Early 2000s Paris Hilton is iconic, and I love 90s Megan Fox. I just adore 90s model style in general. My style changes every day.
What do you love most about working in a family business?
D: Getting to spend time with my family. Many of my friends don't get to see their parents as much as I do. I feel really lucky.
S: Working with my family means I am constantly surrounded by people who love and support everything I do. They always want the best for me and are so encouraging of any new idea or spark I might have. Surrounding yourself with that kind of positive energy is so important, especially in your work environment!
What is next for Wildflower?
S: So. Many. Things!!! I am beyond excited for all of these new ideas and projects we have coming. The possibilities are truly endless, this is just the beginning, I'm telling you!
D: We’re planning on expanding to new headquarters and hiring more talented people to help grow Wildflower. There are so many new collab cases with fun people and brands coming out that my family and I are excited about. We're focused on changing up the iPhone case game, a lot! We have some big surprises in store and are so excited about the future.
Thanks Free People! Check out our collab with them here...