Photography Fiona Torre
Fashion Jennifer Eymere
Devon Lee Carlson’s energy is infectious. The 25-year-old is lively and chatty over the phone from her LA home, despite having only just woken up. One conversation with her leaves you feeling like you’ve found your new best friend; everything about her persona feels genuine and relatable. It makes perfect sense why the internet and fashion brands alike are obsessed with entrepreneur turned influencer. Before Covid-19 relegated everyone to the confines of their own home, Carlson starred in Louis Vuitton's Spring/Summer 2020 accessories campaign, and was a guest of Saint Laurent at their Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2020 show. In February, Carlson, alongside boyfriend Jesse Rutherford (of The Neighborhood), collaborated with Marc Jacobs on a Valentine’s Day T-shirt. It sold out in minutes.
Carlson originally made a name for herself as a co-founder of Wildflower Cases, a phone case company she started with her family after a chance encounter at a restaurant with Miley Cyrus. Cyrus gushed over Carlson’s phone case and posted a photo online, tagging Carlson, who, on the car ride home, was swamped with notifications from people asking where they could get one. “My phone started going crazy. I was freaking out,” says Carlson. “We came up with a name quickly in the car, so I started replying to people on Twitter saying wildflowercases.com.” Her family put together the website in one night.
At the time, Devon was mid-way through her senior year of high school and in the midst of trying to figure out her future plans when the business fell into her lap. “All of my friends were going out of state for school,” she acknowledged, knowing at the time that if she were to continue with school, it would be at a local community college. Carlson ended up doing a semester at community college before dropping out, deciding to focus exclusively on the family business. “I didn't really have time to focus on school and put my all into the company. I was just kind of half-assing both," she explained, noting she could always return to school at a later date. “I figured I'd go full 100% Wildflower.”
It's safe to say she figured right. College wouldn't teach her how to grow a business in real-time, nor would it teach her how to manage a brand. "I think running the business with [my family] was a lot easier because we all respected each other as co-founders. I wasn't looking at my dad as my dad,” Carlson says, “I was learning from him. My mom was teaching me how to stud and how to come up with designs. I gained a whole new respect for my sister because she's so tech-savvy."
But like many her age, she’s still figuring it out her true passions. “Having started Wildflower completely by accident, it wasn't like I was passionate about making phone cases. It's something that I learned to find a passion for," she granted. Fashion and its transformative powers have been a lifelong love. “During the day, I'll wear no makeup and a sweatsuit, but whenever I'd go out to dinner, obviously pre-quarantine, I felt like I could dress up and be a different version of myself. I could show a new side of myself, all through clothes. You can just become whoever you want to be on the outside. I think that's so powerful.”
It's the authentic nature of this passion and excitement that Carlson's 881,000 followers look forward to everyday, and why major fashion houses have started to take notice. Whether she's in Louis Vuitton, or a leopard bikini with her hair up in a banana clip, she's smiling, or even better, making some ridiculous face that feels incredibly in the moment. “I'm just going ham and wearing all this stuff that little Devon would want me to wear,” she says, noting that she takes inspiration from the styles she saw growing up—very ‘90s and early 2000s. “It’s like 13 Going On 30, 13-year-old me is telling me what to wear every day.”
In addition to fashion, modeling fills some of the void she felt when she stopped dancing, and being behind the camera felt like second nature to being on a stage. “There was a similar energy that I felt on set to when I was performing with dance.” There's also the YouTube channel, where she often posts vlogs of herself and her friends, which can blur the line between her work and her life. “I feel like I'm constantly working because I do blog a lot of my life,” she says, “so even when I'm doing that it's kind of work, but I'm also just being myself and hanging out with my friends.”
“I'm very optimistic and easy-going; that's the main part of me,” Carlson says, when asked what she really wants people to know about her, and what they may not necessarily glean from looking at her feed. “I think there's a lot of sides that I don't show on the internet, mostly because it's just for my friends and my boyfriend and my family. I am my real self online, but there's more to me that maybe everyone doesn't know.”
We're here for that, so long as the fashion looks keep coming. “I do have a lot of exciting things that hopefully still happen coming up in the future,” Carlson says, “but I just want to make 13-year-old Devon proud.”
Assistant Stylist Kenzia Bengel de Vaulx
Hair Kevin Jacotot
Makeup Carole Lasnier
Interview Caroline Mas
Text Pauline Borgogno