IN CONVERSATION WITH DEVON LEE CARLSON
interview by MARIA MOTA
Devon is the Co-founder of Wildflower Cases, model and social media personality best known for her sense of style and radiating smile. She has worked with and modeled for many fashion houses such as YSL, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Rèalisation Par, Frankie’s Bikinis, Lack of Color, and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few, and not so long ago, Marc Jacobs and Devon teamed up to design a capsule collection inspired by the 00s, very much like Devon’s style itself.
Taking inspiration from her younger self, Devon loves all things girly, she grew up coordinating Barbie’s clothes and admiring the outfits on the screen of her favorite TV shows. Some of the sensibilities making Devon’s style iconic are good-fitting classics, her love for vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces, and her soft spot for the little details.
At the age of 17, Devon, her mother, and her sister Sydney bumped into Miley Cyrus who encourage them to turn their hobby of customizing phone cases into a business after noticing Devon’s customized leopard case with pyramid studs. Followed by a tweet on Miley’s account, the cases started to gain popularity and now Wildflower Cases are known as a leading global brand adored by everyone. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the brand, as well as its runway debut as part of a collaboration with NY designer Sandy Liang.
She is a magnet of good energy with a smile that never leaves her face, having her way to make her followers feel familiar as she graces our Instagram and YouTube feeds with peaks of her life in her most authentic form.
How did your interest in fashion start and how would you describe your current style?
Barbies were my biggest obsession growing up. I loved dressing them and coordinating their outfits, having Barbie groups of friends acting like they were all going to go out and go to each other’s houses and had their partners, it was so much fun. I also loved TV shows. I was watching “The Simple Life” when I was 12, I don’t know if that was good or bad but I was obsessed with the way they dressed, also “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana”, their style reflected so much who they were and that was what I really admired them for. Finding pieces that I felt like were so me brought me so much joy and growing up I just loved doing all the girly things like doing hair and makeup. I also started dancing when I was really young, doing the makeup and getting to find a costume that fit the dances was so much fun for me.
Honestly I’m kind of struggling with my personal style lately, I feel so overstimulated, but I just finished fashion month and I feel like there were three shows in particular that I got so much inspiration from which were the Saint Laurent show, Sandy Liang and Maryam Nassir Zadeh, I feel like a combination of these might be my personal style at the moment, I really loved them. But I just want to dress really normal right now. I love doing crazy things for pictures and then on my day-to-day just wear good-fitting classics and throw in a little fun bag or fun shoe.
What is your future dream collaboration if you could pick anyone or any brand?
I was just talking to my friend about this the other day, I’ve done my two dream collaborations with Marc Jacobs and Réalisation Par so I feel like my next collaboration shouldn’t be clothing. It could be something really far away from what you are expecting, we kept going on about ideas and I thought “What if I did a car collab?!” It’s not too farfetched, there was this Range Rover Strut edition, with a different grille on the front, a different interior, just little parts about it that made it a Strut, what if I did a Devon’s version of a Strut. There is this Hummer in the “Do somethin’” music video by Britney Spears that has always been my obsession, my dream car, so something along the lines of that for a car collaboration would be cool.
We see Wildflower Cases literally everywhere, from an appearance in the series Euphoria, to brand collaborations and endless mirror photos on Instagram. How does it feel to see your brand being so popular amongst this generation?
It’s the best feeling in the entire world!! And it never gets old, we were at the mall the other day and a girl walks by and I’m like “Omg she has a Wildflower Case”, I point it out every single time, there is never a time when I don’t notice it. I’m extremely grateful and excited that people like them so much, it means the world to me, and seeing them on TV just does not feel real.
Wildflower cases started with your mom, dad, sister, and yourself. How is it to work together with family?
It’s been a dream working with my family and I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s so special to be able to talk to them and go through all of this together. I think our family dynamic makes it great for us to work together because we are really dependent on each other and if we are not each holding our side of the bargain, then our company can’t operate properly. I 100% trust the people that I work with so it’s just truly fulfilling to know that we are all in it for the best reasons and would do anything that benefits the company and help our customers and employees. It really is a full Wildflower family and everyone that works with us knows they are part of the family, which makes the dynamic really special.
Can you take us through the process of creating the cases from beginning to end?
I can say it’s been the best process ever, having this company for 10 years, learning and growing with it. I was 17 and my sister 14 when it started so this is basically our college experience.
The process evolved so much over the years, but it starts with me, my sister and my mom finding inspiration. I feel like I get a lot of inspiration from vintage clothes or even vintage plates, signs on the streets, logos, really anywhere! Sometimes I see an outfit and start thinking what would be a good case to go with it. If I come up with an idea I will bring it to my sister and she will tweak it, then we take it to our mom and she will tweak it. Our dad is a graphic designer so we either have him mock it up or Wilflower’s graphic designer — she is the best, she is amazing! — then we take it back to our mom and she makes it realistic because sometimes Sydney and I’s ideas can get a little too crazy. Then we produce it, have the product photoshoot and then we release it.
As a completely self-funded company, we stay very small until we absolutely need to grow, we worked out of our house in the first 5 years and we didn’t start doing photoshoots for our products until 2020. I think something very important in business that my dad has taught me is to not get distracted by wanting to have all the extras or a glitzy glamorous office but to focus and put all of our money into making sure the product is the best.
Wildflower started when Instagram just took off so you have seen social media platforms evolve over the years. What are your thoughts on 2012’s Instagram and 2022’s Instagram?
In a way I feel like we came full circle, at least maybe the way I am on social media. When I first got Instagram I was posting anything and everything, honestly I thought it was a photo editing app so I would upload photos just to get the filters and then post them on Facebook. I would always make these collages with filters and the pictures would always be the type of photos you see now in a photo dump. Also current TikTok feels like the early days of YouTube when I would always make music videos on my computer’s PhotoBooth
I love it when people get really creative and also share whatever they feel like sharing on Instagram. When people are being genuine and themselves that’s my favorite thing, even if it’s not necessarily my aesthetic, but it’s so them, that’s what I find so cool. The internet is getting to see everyone’s different styles and opinions and it’s a fun place to be, but also you can’t forget the real world also exists ahah it’s important to talk and be with your friends in real life too.
I grew up in the early 2000s and that’s what I always idolized. I grew up watching “Legally Blonde” and “13 going on 30” and all these shows about women being themselves but not being taken seriously and then going against the grain, wearing an all-pink suit to court and winning the case. I subconsciously took what I ingested as a child and brought it to my everyday life, I think it’s so cool that women are owning companies and being taken seriously but also posting bikini pictures and having fun with their friends, not having to hide any personality in order to be taken seriously. If you know what you are talking about and you are doing a good job, that’s all that matters, you can be fun, be taken seriously, and be a boss.
What do you think is the most fulfilling part about being involved in the fashion and creative industry?
I love seeing how broad and accepting it can be. Going to so many different shows and seeing so many different styles is so exciting, it really feels like there is something for everyone. But at the same time, it can almost feel overwhelming because it feels like everything has been done, that’s why I find it so impressive to see things that you’ve actually never seen before and notice new twists on vintage pieces or reimagined styles from the past, that’s really fun.
Seeing people being passionate and so detail oriented is really my favorite thing. I love the little details about fashion, if there is a special zipper or particular little things it always makes me go “I need this are you kidding me?!”
You have styled Olivia Rodrigo for her “Good 4 U” music video. Is styling something you want to explore more in the future?
If the right thing comes. It felt like my dream scenario so I set the bar really high ahah. It was so much fun to play dress up and style Olivia with things that I feel like she wouldn’t have normally worn, I admired how she was growing up and sort of coming out with this last album, I was really inspired by her. Every time I think about what I’m going to style next, I feel like it has to be something that I’m really excited and passionate about, like this project. It was so special because I love Olivia, she is like a baby sister to me and I love Petra, it’s been my dream for years to work with Petra (Collins).
I also style all of the Wildflower photoshoots with my sister and I find that really fun too, whenever we do a collaboration we always go shopping and pick out outfits. Maybe my styling isn’t necessarily textbook correct on how you are supposed to do styling because I’m always going to thrift and vintage stores and putting together the most random things, but maybe that’s what’s fun about it.
Who or what has inspired you the most in your life?
Women who aren’t afraid to be themselves. There are so many strong women that I look up to and am inspired by, it goes so far back to people whom I went to high school with. This just popped into my head right now, there was this girl, she was my best friend’s older sister, her name is Nina and in my eyes she was the coolest girl in the world. She came to school in Juicy tracksuits and had her BMW with a rhinestone pink license plate, she was never afraid to stand up for herself or be herself but also always being the funniest and goofy, it inspired me so much, everyone just loved her. Alexandra Spencer is such a big inspiration to me creatively, she used to run the blog “4th And Bleeker” which I was obsessed with and later she started Réalisation Par. My dad inspires me a lot, he worked so hard his entire life and taught me and Sydney how to be strong women and not need to depend on anyone in our lives, that has always been in me because of him. My mom inspires me too, she’s so creative and thoughtful. I can literally go on forever, Kate moss inspires me, RuPaul, Jane Birkin…
What does your perfect day look like?
Naturally waking up at 7 AM, I love the morning, definitely a morning person. I take my dog out, run into a friend while getting matcha, then go back home and work for a couple of hours. Then have a friend calling me saying “Let’s go shopping!”, then we go shopping at some vintage store. I come back home, we get ready to have dinner in a really yummy place, and after we will all hang out somewhere and meet with more friends, then come home, take a bath and go to bed. And the next day I wake up and get a massage and go to the beach, then it would be my perfect weekend.
What is next for you? Any exciting projects you can share?
I’ve already accomplished more than I ever dreamed of, so whatever comes next I’m super excited for! I definitely have some things cooking but I’m not ready to share them yet, don’t want to jinx anything ; )
photography & creative direction DANA TRIPPE @trippydana
styling DANYUL BROWN @danyulbrown
hair stylist RICKY FRASER @rickyfraserhair
makeup artist CARLY FISHER @carlyy.fisher
art department SHAUN S @eterna_builds
executive producer KATE CLARK @kateelclark
production company SLIME STUDIOS @slimeproductionstudios
styling assistants ADAM CHIA @hiswayofwalking and CARL LOVESTRAND @carllovestrand
makeup assistant MAYA SRUOCH @mayavelii
editors MARIA MOTA @maria_smota and TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja
location DUST STUDIOS @duststudiosla