We sit down with the internet’s It Girl to chat the importance of gratitude, her personal style journey, and the brutal beauty of sisterhood.

INTERVIEW BY Emariamhe Obemeata @emariamhe
FULL LOOK Thom Browne

INTERVIEW BY Emariamhe Obemeata @emariamhe

Let’s be real with ourselves. This is Devon Lee Carlson’s world, and we’re just living in it. As the digital space becomes saturated with jack-of-all-multi-hypenates, Carlson emerges as someone who really can do it all. With ease, this young creative flits between her co-founder post at Wildflower Cases, dishing her life’s details on YouTube, and absolutely dominating the fashion game.

To think, this all came from a chance encounter with Miley Cyrus eleven years ago. Instantly captivated by Carlson’s ultra-cute handmade phone case, a simple tweet set her entire family on the whirlwind journey of starting a business. From there blossomed the young entrepreneur’s many tendrils of pursuits. Whether it be sitting front row for the likes of Saint Laurent and Gucci, or designing limited edition t-shirts for Marc Jacobs – all of fashion’s major players want a slice of Dev.

It’s not hard to see why, as Carlson often takes to Instagram to impart followers with her impeccable taste. Wielding the perfect concoction of patterns, prints, and pure nostalgia – what results is her enticingly trendy, yet undeniably true-to-self style. Her influence is palpable, with many considering Carlson their online oracle. There’s no way around it – where Devon leads, we all follow.

As I take to Zoom for our interview, I’m consumed by Carlson’s warmth in an instant. Her sunshine of a smile is immediately infectious, as excitement quickly gives way to tenderness. As fellow older sisters, we revel in the joys (and perils) of sisterhood, while the Tumblr girl in me sees the Tumblr girl in her – as we discuss the platform’s undeniable cultural influence. From her unorthodox path into adulthood, to the surreality of living her dreams – we dig deep.

Head below to read our interview…

FULL LOOK Thom Browne

FULL LOOK Thom Browne

To break the ice, I thought we could do like a few quickfire questions. What’s the first thing you thought about this morning?
Probably going back to bed.

So real. If you could only ever wear one beauty product for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Moisturiser! I love it, I feel like it’s a glass of water for your skin.

Any one in particular?
I love the Tatcha water cream, and I also love the BIBA daily moisturiser. Any non-comedogenic moisturiser I will try.

What was your first big fashion purchase?
I think the first luxury item I ever bought with my own money was during my first time in New York. I was in Times Square, and this was in 2012 so I think I probably had just turned 18. I went to Sunglass Hut in Times Square, and bought a pair of these perfect mid-size Prada sunglasses. I remember I had never felt more chic in my entire life. It was heaven.

Do you still have them?
I probably sold them to Wasteland or something at the time to go and buy something else. I was not good at saving money.

When you have money it’s so hard not to just spend it!
When I got my first job, every paycheck I got – I went through the entire thing. I would go negative in my bank account. But my dad taught me a lot about money. Oh, and through my mistakes. I did a lot of learning the hard way.

It’s just another way to learn.
I know. I’m very grateful for those times because I was working at a go-karting place, and making minimum wage. I just remember being so excited about getting my paycheck because you’ve worked so many hours. Whatever I was gonna buy, I thought of it in relation to how many hours I’d worked.

Speaking of sunglasses, if you were an accessory which accessory would you be?
A Wildflower Case, with charms hanging off of it.

You’ve gotta rep your brand!
I love it, it’s always in my hand. And I’m changing the cases constantly to whatever my mood is or outfit is.

FULL LOOK Jacquemus

FULL LOOK Jacquemus

Ok so, we have to talk about your chance encounter with Miley Cyrus, which essentially launched your brand Wildflower Cases. At the time, did you get the sense that Wildflower would explode into what it is today?
Not at all. It was just a hobby for us. And then we met Miley and set it up, but it was still kind of a hobby. But then it ended up employing my whole family. I’m so grateful for the entire experience. We went into it with such an innocent mindset, which made it so special. But it’s so crazy, trying to wrap my head around all of it feels impossible.

I also think that virality, and ‘going viral’, had such a different meaning back then – it’s as if it held more weight. If Wildflower were launching today, how differently would you do things? If at all?
I feel like the beauty of Wildflower is that we didn’t even have a plan to start a company. Everything that we did was just purely because of fun. We never thought of it as marketing, me and Sydney just did what we loved, which was taking cute pictures with our friends, and making outfits that match cases. Just being girly girls! So when Miley Cyrus tweeted me, I made the newspaper because of it! It was such a different scale of things.

That’s insane!
Back then, cute phone cases didn’t even exist. So if we were starting today, I think Sydney and I would just go at it with our genuine and authentic self and ideas. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s just doing what I feel is right, and what I’m inspired by. Working with our family, there’s so many ideas and so many vast creative differences sometimes, so it really is just a full collaboration of all of us.

I imagine you’re in the groove of things now, but what was it like at the start working with your family? Did you guys immediately set boundaries between work and family time, or did that take some figuring out?
In the beginning, we were getting orders, and we didn’t have any inventory or anything. We just went straight into it full speed. Even when I moved out, I still had to drive to my parents house and be there at 8am. If I was late, I would get docked pay, and even then, when I got home I was still expected to take photos, and send them to my mom. This was our life, and if we all didn’t commit to it, we wouldn’t have a roof over our heads. We all depended on each other to carry the weight of each of our roles. I think we just respected each other. But as far as the emotional side of things, we’re a typical family. It’s also a beautiful thing, because I trust my parents so much to make the best decisions for our family and the business.

FULL LOOK Moschino, STOCKINGS Calzedonia

FULL LOOK Moschino, STOCKINGS Calzedonia

You were in school when Wildflower launched, so your life changed quite a lot in a very short amount of time. Did that take some adjusting, and getting used to?
Of course. It was such a weird thing that we were doing this, it wasn’t really accepted. A lot of people made fun of the fact that we thought we could start a company and not go to school and do the traditional route. I totally lied to people and said that I applied for colleges, and I never did. I did go to community college for a semester, and I dropped out, because I was just so stressed out. I was in class thinking about all of the Wildflower work that I had to do. But the opportunity of being able to be hands-on at a startup is kind of the most valuable experience you can have. Learning, while it’s happening.

That’s as much of an education as you’d get with a degree.
I know. I’m really grateful for some friends that I had at that time, because one of my other friends Francesca started Frankie’s Bikinis the same year. It was nice having someone you could bond with over doing something different. It feels so normal that people don’t go to school now, but 11 years ago it was such a big thing. I remember we did a senior dance, and at the end everyone held up a pillow that said where they were going to college, and I was the only one who wrote ‘travel’ because I was too embarrassed to say a ‘start-up’. I felt like it was more acceptable to just put that on my pillow. But my dad loves to say that I manifested travelling all over the world, because I put travel on my pillow! But the way everything turned out, and all of the choices I made were all the right choices.

You and Sydney – your sister – are a dynamic duo. As someone who also has a younger sister, it’s really heartwarming to see you guys slaying the fashion industry together.
Aw! What’s your age difference?

She’s 17 and I’m 22, so five years. It’s crazy. I feel she’s also getting to the age where I can talk to her like one of my friends.
Yep, I know that feeling. When they grow up like that, it’s insane. Being a big sister is the best.

What’s the age difference between you and Sydney?
We’re two and a half years apart. And we were three grades apart at school. She was a freshman when I was a senior. So we got one year of high school together, which was the best, but it’s like what you said. We only really became best friends five years ago. We had such a sister mindset of, ‘you’re going to tell on me if I do something.’ And ‘I would tell on you if you did something,’ and then all we did was bicker about clothes. I just think we needed to grow up and realise how special it is to have a built in best friend. Whether I need an Instagram picture taken, or I need help with the dogs, she’s there because I would do the same thing for her. I can’t imagine what it would be like without her.

What’s it like doing fashion things with her? Like going to shows, and all of that?
It’s really reminiscent of our childhood. We’re constantly looking at each other like, ‘how is this our life?’. We were both in Milan together, where I just posted a vlog. I was going to the Gucci show, she was going to the Blumarine show and it was insane – we just got to laugh. She woke me up to take pictures of her after her show, while she’s in full glam. And the next day it was a role reversal. I’m so grateful to travel with my sister. It’s so fun.

That’s so beautiful that you guys get to share all of these amazing experiences together.
Also when it comes to taking Instagram pictures we just know what each other wants. She’ll be like, ‘actually do a good job’, and I’ll come through. She’d do the same for me – like telling me I look weird.

There’s nothing like a younger sister’s brutal honesty.
Having a sister has kept me so humble. No matter what I do, we will still find a way to make fun of each other. I can say one nice thing but combat it with like, three funny things.

FULL LOOK Thom Browne

FULL LOOK Thom Browne

In the vein of fashion, you are the It Girl. I’d love to hear about your personal journey with fashion. Were you one of those kids that was dressing themselves as soon as they could talk? How has your style evolved throughout the years?
My mom loves clothes a lot. She loved dressing me up and making me so girly, and my grandma sewed. She would make me all of my Halloween costumes, and my grandma even sewed my mom’s wedding dress. There are very creative women in my family. It wasn’t until I was probably four or five when I started dressing myself. I remember I started doing my own hair for school, and I was always doing twists and clips, and picking out an outfit to match. I was also obsessed with Barbie, so I was always styling my Barbies. I didn’t know a lot about high fashion until I got older and into high school, and started reading proper magazines. I got so much of my inspiration from movies that I watched. But a lot of my friends weren’t really that interested in the fashion world. A lot of the things I was inspired by were like Hannah Montana, The Girls Next Door, The Simple Life, Legally Blonde, and 13 Going on 30. I always loved how everyone’s outfits reflected their personalities. Once I got older and started learning about designers, I was really obsessed with Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott, and all fun things. When I got my own job, I had to get creative with shopping. I started out with a mindset of quantity over quality, so I would go to every goodwill from Ventura, Oxnard, all the way to LA in the valley. Just trying to find looks that I’d seen in magazines and stuff. But I wasn’t really wearing a lot of that stuff to school, it was on the weekends. I wanted to blend in at school. My junior year was the first year that I wore a ‘daring outfit’, and it was a ruffled floral skort with over the knee boots, and a cropped sweater. I was sick of acting like I didn’t like fashion. That’s when I started being brave enough to wear the things that I wanted to at school. I’ve always loved making outfits, and creating a personality through your look. I just think experimenting with trends is really fun sometimes, but doing it in a way that’s always yourself. I will forever wear leopard print, that is something that is just never gonna go away. I love always having nostalgia, or like at least one fun piece on at all times. I just love fashion. How could you not?

Were you a Tumblr girl?
Of course! I was obsessed with Tumblr. My dad is very tech savvy, and he’s very into what’s coming next in the tech world. So he told my sister and I about Tumblr, and we got on it super young. We were obsessed with Tumblr, just finding a lot of inspiration. That’s how I found a lot of stuff too, because it was a new outlet. I loved reblogging and coding to make your own custom mood board. I had a phase of making a bunch of different accounts that were very specific to a certain mood.

It was such a vibe back in the day.
It still is! I’m still reblogging, and I always find amazing inspiration on there. But there’s inspiration everywhere. You can make anything a vibe if you see it through the right lens.

(LEFT) FULL LOOK Janisha (RIGHT) FULL LOOK Dawid Tomaszewski

FULL LOOK Janisha FULL LOOK Dawid Tomaszewski

We touched on it a bit earlier, but your vlogs going to London, Paris, Milan, and New York Fashion Weeks give me – and everyone else – life. It must feel like a dream come true! Do you remember your first fashion week show?
I was so nervous all the time, it was so intimidating. I went to the Louis Vuitton show in New York, and I had been ready waiting in the lobby in my look with this big group of girls. When we were put in our Ubers, there was so much traffic that we almost missed the show. We were the last ones to come in, and we didn’t even sit in our seats. I just ran and whatever was the first seat open. But once the show started, I felt amazing. But I almost missed it! And I’ve never got close to missing a show ever again.

What’s your favourite part about the whole process?
I just love seeing the shows, and getting ready. Getting ready, to me, is more fun than going out sometimes. But when you’re getting ready for a show, you get to see the designers’ hard work.
It’s such a special moment to be there and see the collections. And it’s such an honour that I get to do that. It’s a pinch me moment. I also love picking a look and getting inspiration from the designer themselves. I’m going to a Gucci show, I’m gonna look way different than if I’m going to a Saint Laurent show. It’s like playing dress-up when you’re younger, but in real life! That was my favourite game growing up.

What are your fashion week essentials?
A good attitude, some tea, and maybe a vodka shot somewhere down the line. And croissants.

(LEFT + RIGHT) FULL LOOK Givenchy (MIDDLE) BLAZER Dalood, SKIRT Keburia, BOOTS Francesca Bellavita

(LEFT + RIGHT) FULL LOOK Givenchy (MIDDLE) BLAZER Dalood, SKIRT Keburia, BOOTS Francesca Bellavita

If you had any advice for young creatives, or creatives who are just starting out what do you think is the most important thing to know?
It’s important to keep an open mind, hear everyone out, and stay true to yourself. Because I think there’s so many times with fashion, I really am down to try everything. There’s not much where I’m like, ‘I wouldn’t try that.’ When you’re young, it’s so vital to experiment with fashion, and really find which looks make you feel good, and how you feel when you wear certain things.
How are you gonna know if you never try? So you’ve got to keep an open mind and give everything a shot.

I saw this TikTok the other day that said, “to be the coolest version of yourself, you have to climb cringe mountain.” With Wildflower and doing YouTube, I can imagine it’s a vulnerable thing to put yourself out there. Do you have any advice for somebody who might be shy when it comes to putting themselves out there?
Believe it or not, I’m a very shy girl. My dad was trying to get Sydney and I to start youtube when we were 14, and start youtube channels and, do make up tutorials, because that’s what we love doing. But it took me until I was 21 to muster up the courage to actually do that. But I think if you love something and you’re passionate about it, and your friends and family support you, then you should go for it. There’s no reason not to. Just stay true to yourself, and if it makes you feel good doing this, who cares about whatever other people have to say? I need to take my own advice sometimes when it comes to that, because sometimes I get in my head.

To finish off, you’re incredibly accomplished. But, is there one goal or accomplishment that you’ve always dreamed of, that once you’ve ticked off, you’ll feel like you’ve made it?
I mean, to be honest, my main goal in life was to win dance team nationals, and I did that when I was a senior. And to have a dog. Anything else that I’ve done after that just seems like I’m still dreaming, so I’m just grateful for any experiences that I get. I really am just happy to be here. I love everyone who supports me and sends me love, because I’m just sending it right back. I want everyone to succeed and follow their dreams.

Sarah Pardini @sarahpardini
Stylist @orettac
Hair Stylist
Ricky Fraser @rickyfraserhair
Makeup Artist
Alexandra French @alexandraafrench
Special Thanks

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