December 13, 2023
Fashion & Beauty
Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Over the past decade, we’ve known Devon Lee Carlson as a ray of sunshine glowing through our screens, granting us a peek into her decadent Los Angeles life. She’s never held back from posting what makes her happy, even if it results in a questionable text from her mum. As she turns 29, in the closing chapter of her 20s, she’s aiming to find the equilibrium in her online presence and delightful reality. Opting for a sprinkle of privacy, Devon is evolving on her own terms and embarking on the unknown.
Devon and I meet through our screens as she manoeuvres around her freshly furnished, pink-carpeted home. Radiating with energy and drenched by the morning sun, she allows me a glimpse of her morning ritual – iced matcha latte in hand, of course.
Devon’s organic approach to the digital world makes her my favourite internet girl. She grew up with social media; one of the first platforms she expressed herself with was MySpace, as she’s “always been a natural at capturing moments.” With a following of 1.5 million on Instagram, Devon’s never held back from sharing her life. “Sometimes I get embarrassed, but then I’m like, ‘Wait, no one cares,’” she says.
Our 20s are encapsulated with change; having everything laid out for the world to see can be challenging. “I’m getting older. I don’t want to share everything,” she reveals, adding, “I’m evolving in a way that’s true to myself, and people still care to watch that.” It takes courage to grow in front of numerous pairs of eyes; Devon tells me that she sometimes doesn’t want to “disappoint the people who love and support her.”
She has her younger sister Sydney, an in-house best friend, to take on the growing pains alongside her. The two sisters show up for each other through the highs and lows of their lives, leaning on one another and always telling the truth, even if it stings, aware that it stems from a loving place. “She’s always like, ‘Devon, stop, don’t do that, stop being weird’, it’s the beauty of sisters.” They’ve evolved from sisterhood to successful business partners, with their supportive parents behind them; their brand Wildflower Cases boasts a cult following of over 700,000 on Instagram.
The Carlsons also have a non-family member to thank, and to everyone’s surprise, that’s Miley Cyrus. It took place on an unexpected family outing, back in 2012 when Devon and her younger sister Sydney bumped into the Disney star in the bathroom of a restaurant. Of course, they had to ask for a picture. The phone cases caught Miley’s eye, and she was immediately intrigued. It was the original Wildflower case. At the time, the phone cases were passion projects the sisters handmade with their mum, Michelle, to coordinate with their outfits. Miley tweeted about the cases, the Carlson family made the Wildflowers website overnight, and the rest is history. The crucial takeaway here: girls should always go to the bathroom together.
Diane von Furstenberg dress, Omega watch
Stella McCartney dress & boots, Pamela Love necklace
Diane von Furstenberg jumpsuit
Valentino dress & shoes, Marc Jacobs jacket, Devon’s own headband
Devon and Sydney skipped university to work full-time with their parents, Dave and Michelle. When asked if she’s ever had doubts, she says, “Oh my God, all the time!” For Devon, the nerves mean you’re “doing something right.” The entire family “wore over 20 different hats” while building the company for years. “I was designing [the cases] but also doing all of the customer service, packing, shipping and then also doing the marketing and taking the content and styling the shoots and doing hair and makeup.” It was in May of 2015 that the family hired their first employee.
The sisters became entrepreneurs at such a young age that the immensity of what was happening didn’t even occur to them. They’re both creators at heart, often finding loopholes and ways to accomplish a task, especially when given no budget because their parents knew they “would take advantage of it.” It’s hard not to blow all the money given to you at the mall back at that age.
Their father, Dave, had a hands-on approach to everything. The sisters took it on as a challenge and discovered that “there’s always a way around the budget”. Website banners were taken from mirror selfies on Snapchat, and product launches were shot on an iPhone 5. The company’s first commercial campaign was shot in 2020, eight years into the launch.
Michelle and Dave are the golden pair for any child who dares to dream big. Both parents dove into the Wildflower universe without a second thought. Nonetheless, the sisters were always encouraged to try to do their best. In one of Devon’s vlogs from 2017, the camera is propped up to show her lying in bed in her hotel room, playing motivational speeches that her dad had sent her. When questioned about this scene, she laughs, revealing that he still sends them to her. Working with family has ups and downs; they’re on this ride together, but differentiating their parents from co-workers can be challenging. “I’m still his daughter at the end of the day, and I always come around and do whatever he’s telling me to do.”
Working in a family-founded company has brought out archetypes of Devon that online viewers rarely see. Behind the curtains, there’s a more serious side of her; she describes herself as “business savvy, attentive and serious.” Undoubtedly, the sisters had to take responsibility from a young age when the entire family depended on the brand.
When Wildflower Cases was being built, Devon had to put her initial plans on hold: “I was ready to be a dancer.” Nonetheless, it didn’t stop the business-savvy teen from experimenting with her other passions. Leaning into her joy for fashion when experimenting with various fabrics for the iPhone cases. Fast forward to the present day, Devon’s presence in the fashion industry goes beyond fabric swatches as she’s perched on the front row at major fashion shows across New York, London, Milan and Paris.
Like many girls, Devon grew up eager to play dress up, and her style inspiration came from “the characters in the tabloids, movies or in the TV shows we would watch”. Notable mentions include Hannah Montana, Paris Hilton, Lizzy McGuire and Kate Moss. She shared a heartwarming full circle moment with Kate when the supermodel approached her, revealing that her daughter Lila was a fan of Devon and thought her mum was cool for appearing in one of the vlogs. Gushing with gratitude, Devon told Kate, “I am who I am because of you!” Devon’s fever for fashion transcends beyond her closet: she explores styling clients like Olivia Rodrigo and Addison Rae.
A fashion week veteran, Devon’s got her travel routine solidified after trial and error. “I’m a little type A, I have to come home to a clean house.” Preferring to take flights that arrive in the evening, she likes to draw herself a bath and sleep off the jet lag immediately. Devon describes her ascent into the fashion industry as intimidating. Through feelings of inadequacy, she now finds confidence in asking questions, granting herself permission to wonder and overcoming the anxious naivety she once endured. “I realised you don’t have to know. No one’s expecting you to know everything, you’re young and learning.”
Diane von Furstenberg top, Omega watch