Miley Cyrus walked into a restaurant and spotted Sydney Carlson holding a unique DIY phone case. Sydney was having dinner with her sister, Devon, and parents, Dave and Michelle. “Miley Cyrus said, ’You need to start a business,’ and I looked at her and I said, ’Miley, we’ll have a website by tomorrow,’” says Dave.
That interaction spawned Wildflower Cases, a unique and fashionable tech accessories brand that has built a strong cult following during its decade in business.
Ahead, Dave offers advice to others looking to spin a passion project into a product and brand loved by celebrities.
How to turn your passion into a business
After a surge in demand, the Carlson family needed to act quickly to spin Michelle’s side project into a family business. What do you do for fun? Can you turn your hobby into a business to make extra money on the side? Follow Dave’s three tips for making the transition.
1. Always be prepared with product samples on hand
Just three weeks into making fun DIY iPhone cases, Michelle began getting approached by her daughter’s friends to make more. Dave advises that once you see this demand spark, immediately start carrying extra products with you, in case opportunities present themselves. “It was the first day that Michelle packed an extra two phone cases in the car. We’re out to dinner, and Miley Cyrus walked in,” Dave says.
Having extra product on hand means you’re prepared when chance encounters like this one happen. After meeting the Carlson family, Miley tweeted a photo of the phone case, kicking off viral demand for the product.
2. Play into the strengths of your team
“It was like a family huddle, and we all said go,” Dave says. “So I stayed up till about 5 a.m., opened up a Shopify account and launched the site.” In order to start the business quickly, Dave had to make sure his whole family was on board, and that each person had a distinct role.
With years of experience in graphic design, Dave did something out of the ordinary for him, and gave creative control over to his young daughters. “I was looking to empower Devon and Sydney to create a vision for their own fashion accessory brand,” Dave says. It’s crucial to set your ego aside when dividing up tasks, and allow people to grow into their position.
3. Be nimble as your brand grows
When going into business with family or close friends, Dave advises that founders should expect there to be different phases of expectations as the brand evolves. It’s important to continuously be re-evaluating responsibilities and, more importantly, be open to those roles changing.
“As time passes and you’re all learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you adjust and mold everyone’s individual responsibilities,” Dave says. Wildflower Cases launched when Sydney was 16 and Devon was 18, so clear communication was key as his daughters grew alongside the brand’s success.
The family continues to succeed at supporting one another. Wildflower Cases celebrated its 10th year in business in 2022, as Devon and Sydney represented the brand at fashion week events in Paris, Milan, and New York.
Tune in to the full Shopify Masters episode to hear Dave share his self-made career path, and how he took Wildflower Cases from a homemade DIY project to a profitable business with close to 70 employees.