Wildflower is a family-owned business.
Plaid or butterflies? Are you interested in flames or leopard print? Cherries, angels or tie dye or puppies? These are not questions that you might ask most days, but they can be very important for teenage girls when you spend $35 on an iPhone case from Wildflower. Wildflower is a Los Angeles-based company that was founded out of a chance encounter between Miley Cyrus and Wildflower.
Wildflower’s official Instagram page features pictures of teenager models, professional and amateur. They are interspersed by celebrities who clutch their iPhones with acrylic nails in endless mirror selfies.
YouTube is flooded by videos of Wildflower cases being unboxed, reviews, or simply girls looking at their case collections. Amazon reviews are being left by parents who are nitpicking about the price but ultimately expressing their delight with their daughters’ cases.
A Wildflower case is the ideal accessory to have on hand for celebrities and middle schoolers. However, don’t let the hype surrounding Wildflower cases fool you. Wildflower cases are not a flash in the pan.
The company has grown steadily since 2012 when the Carlson families (mum Michelle, dad Dave, and teenaged Devon and Sydney) met Miley in an LA restaurant. This was when their lives were forever changed.
Michelle had made phone cases for her daughters by hand at the time. Cyrus noticed the girls stopping to take a picture with her when Cyrus took one. Michelle was impressed with her designs and suggested she sell them. Sydney and Devon were delighted to give the first Wildflower fans the cases Michelle had made.
Sisters Sydney and Devon Carlson
Things escalated quickly. Devon’s phone began to explode as she was driving home from the restaurant. Cyrus had tweeted her a picture of the cases and asked for help.
“I remember all of us asking, should we create a business because Miley said we should, or should we just pass?”Dave Carlson speaks to me via phone from the Wildflower warehouse, Los Angeles. They decided to do it together, and have not looked back since that first day. They stayed up late into the night to create Wildflower’s website, and orders started rolling in.
The family began making the cases at home using fabric, clear plastic shells, and decorative studs. They started inviting friends and family to help. But it soon became apparent that they needed to hire more people to help. “fingers were literally cracked peeling and bleeding,”Dave. Next, he found a local company that would fulfill the orders and then outsourced them to a Mexican facility. Now, the cases are made in Shenzhen, China by a team of people who he describes being “very friendly”. “like family to us.”
How to win friends and influencers
The company has grown organically, following a steady upward trajectory since its inception. Dave recalled another incident, besides the Miley Cyrus meeting. “critical moment”Wildflower experienced a significant boost in traffic after this. He noticed that YouTube was driving a lot of traffic to Wildflower’s website. He investigated and found that Maddi Bragg, a beauty vlogger, had been reviewing Wildflower cases and posting videos to her YouTube channel.
It was a turning moment. The YouTuber quickly formed a friendship and proposed Wildflower’s first influencer collaboration in 2015. “We have collaborations lined up through the end of this year,”Dave. “It’s now just become part of our DNA.”
Wildflower designLana Del Rey favored this song.
The web’s most influential influencers are often sought out by big brands. Wildflower, on the other hand, is able to rely on personal connections and have well-funded marketing departments. The Carlsons’ close friendship with Devon and Sydney is what has helped them to build strong relationships with their collaborators. Many influencers approach the company today with their own ideas for design.
Wildflower has partnered over the years with some of the most influential young women on the internet, including Bella Hadid, YouTuber Tana Mongeau, and Hannah Meloche. Perhaps none has had the same impact as Emma Chamberlain (18-year-old YouTuber), whom Time featured on its cover. 2019 list of 25 most influential people on internetAlongside the duke & duchess of Sussex, Alexandria OcasioCortez, and Donald Trump.
“Her first collab was two years ago maybe, and her case just keeps selling and selling,”Carlson. “It’s been a very successful one and she already wants to do a new design, so we’re probably going to be doing another collab with her.”
Chamberlain designShe continues to appear in her own Instagram mirror selfies and there is a sense that the relationship with the company for influencers is authentic in a manner that paid-per post collaborations with other brands aren’t.
Since Day One, Cyrus has supported Wildflower. The cases have been seen on the phones of many pop girls (Dua Lipa and Halsey are all fans). They were even featured on HBO’s dark teen drama Euphoria last year.
Sydney tells Sydney via email that despite the fact that the cases have been seen on many famous faces, she still feels surprised to see the cases in the wild, no matter who’s carrying them. “Usually when I’m out and about in public and see people with our cases is when I get most excited,”She said. “It always catches me off guard and is so rewarding to see people with our phone cases, whoever they are.”
Mirror-selfies, niche memes
You can protect your phone with a phone case showWhile off is great for making your iPhone stand apart when they look almost identical, the importance of cases has increased with the popularity of the Instagram mirror-selfie in 2017. Wildflower cases also started to feature heavily on niche memes — an Instagram format that’s very popular among teen girls, and that Taylor Lorenz described as “Necklace Memes”. A Daily Beast 2017 articleAs “a unique, hyper-specific collage about the creator.”
The cases are more that a status symbol in the world Instagram aesthetics. They are a key part of Instagram’s visual language because of the frequency they are featured. designYou can use them to contribute to a wide variety of aesthetics. Examples include Wildflower’s green flake case being featured in a niche meme about Billie Eilish fans, or the cherry case (inour header art) being included in a post titled “she always tries impressing her crush.”
Wildflower has a curious relationship to meme culture. In that the brand feeds into meme culture, the cases are often inspired by it. “Devon and I are very into the internet world and can definitely say meme culture has influenced our ideas,”Sydney says. This feedback loop could explain why the brand is still popular. It has evolved seamlessly and kept up with Instagram trends over the past eight year.
Dave also mentions that each Wildflower case is a limited edition. Each Wildflower case can only be made in a limited number. designIteration is done, and they’re gone. “That mentality has always created a sense of scarcity,”He says. “We try to tell everyone, get it while you can. And if Michelle decides to discontinue a style, then it’s discontinued and we’ll probably move on to the next trend.”
Niche memes are popular for the emoji-inspired cherry.
Michelle, the company’s CEO and founder, continues to have final say on designs. She works closely alongside Sydney and Devon, who shared their YouTube videos stating that they get inspiration from their friends. fashionTrends they spot in LA, as well as on Instagram or YouTube. “Our customers have become our muses when designing, and it all comes full circle,” Devon Forbes recently reportedInterview.
Nicole Sahebi, a 16-year-old Californian model who is also a TikTok star, says that the most appealing thing about the cases is the designs. “are perfect to mix and match with different outfits.”
“Coupled with their unique color schemes, each Wildflower case is so beautiful and sleek that I feel the need to have all of them,” Sahebi tells me. “And I almost do.”
It should be kept in the family
Wildflower has exciting plans for the coming year. There are yet to be announced collaborations beyond the influencer realm. Already, the company has partnered with Urban Outfitters. Additional partnerships with household names will be announced.
Dave says that there were attempts in the past to make cases to fit Samsung Galaxy phones. However, these efforts were abandoned after they failed to sell enough. The company has added Apple Watch bands and laptop clutches to its stable of products, but otherwise it’s sticking to the core business of iPhone cases.
“One of the things we’ve tried just with a company ethos is to just keep things simple,”Dave. Dave says that the family-owned business is important because it has 23 employees now. This works well for them all.
Once you begin to recognize them, they will be everywhere.
Wildflower was started in Sydney and Devon when they were still teenagers. They answered phones, responded to emails, and packed up cases. They are now adults and are social media manager and brand manger of the company, respectively.
This story of a father-daughter (and mother) team that built a business after a chance encounter is the thing that has always propelled the company forward. It’s featured on every leaflet and every single phone case sold.
“We love to share the story in the hope that it inspires other young girls — or anybody, actually — that wants to pursue something and turn it into a business,”Dave. “I think there are especially a lot of young girls out there that will probably look up to Devon and Sydney and really take a lot away from that.”