Inside/Out: We the Birds
Kari Jones: I relocated from New York City to Dallas in August and in September I met Sarah and Natalie. They were the stylish ones on the opposite side of the table at an intimate dinner party. Since then, I have watched in awe as they take over the Dallas blogger scene. They quickly became fans of Foremost and we have been friends and collaborators ever since. Their talents are endless- design, style and incredible macarons! It was only fitting that we start our Inside/Out series with these lovely ladies.
KJ: We know you two are sisters. How did you end up deciding to collaborate on the blog/business?
WTB: About a year and a half ago, Natalie moved to Dallas and we found ourselves living in the same city for the first time in 10 years. We had always bounced the idea around of starting a blog and decided the time had come! Things quickly evolved and our brand is expanding. Our small businesses reflect our passions: Natalie is a gluten-free foodie who has mastered the art of making macarons, thus We the Birds | Macarons was born. Sarah’s skills as a graphic designer and creative director laid the foundation to start We the Birds | Creative Studio.
KJ: You have really exciting news for your fans this summer. Tell us about it!
WTB: Excited probably doesn’t even describe the feeling we have about this! In mid July we are moving into our own ‘space’ with a few other local creatives. We the Birds headquarters will be shared with Three Twelve Co. (an event planner) and Beckley & Co. (a photographer). We can’t wait to have a designated work space where we can make macarons, collaborate with other creatives, and host events! Working from home is great for a time, but we knew that would be temporary. We both feel that this move is definitely the next logical step for our brand.
KJ: Can you describe your journey to become entrepreneurs? How did you decide to make the jump from your full-time jobs?
WTB: We’re still kind of in the process of ‘making the jump’… I think many small businesses start out as a ‘side job’ and then a decision has to be made. We basically came to that cross roads at the end of 2015. It was clear that we the birds was taking on a life of its own and in order for it to go from ‘side job’ to ‘real job’ we needed to take the leap. That’s when Sarah decided to leave her full-time job at Neiman Marcus doing web design, to focus on our blog. This is when she started her own design business: we the birds | creative studio. In early 2016, through blogger events and networking, Natalie began organically selling custom macarons. Orders just started flooding in. She actually just recently transitioned to part-time at her recruiting job to focus on the blog and macarons. We’re still in the process of getting our company websites launched, but we’ve been blown away by what word-of-mouth referrals have done for We the Birds. It has proven to us how important it is to get involved in the local community to establish brand presence. Living in the digital age with social media, sometimes there’s a tendency to get caught up in all of that but there’s still nothing that compares to getting out there and talking to real people about your business…
KJ: What has been the greatest reward and challenge so far?
WTB: The greatest challenge is that we can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to get everything done — it’s just the two of us right now doing everything. But the greatest reward is working together as sisters (and best friends) on something that we’re both passionate about. The long hours and late nights honestly don’t feel like work because it’s something we want to be doing.
KJ: Do you have any advice for people thinking of making the jump?
Sarah: Just start. Particularly with blogging — you have to just start putting out good content. It takes time to establish a presence, but if you don’t start you never will! We also believe that establishing and defining a clear brand strategy from the beginning is one of the best things you can do for your business (and make no mistake, just like our macarons and design businesses -blogging is a business).
Natalie: Success doesn’t happen overnight. Choose something you believe in because you’ll need that confidence and passion to propel your business forward. As long as you’re putting energy into your business it is possible to grow even while you’re maintaining your full-time job. At some point, it will be clear that it’s time to make the leap.
KJ: You are both very stylish ladies! Can you each describe your personal styles?
Natalie: My closet is very curated. I am choosy about the pieces I buy and tend towards quality over quantity. Overall my style is clean and minimal.. But I don’t shy away from a bold lip or accessory.
Sarah: My style has evolved throughout the years (along with my ever-changing hairstyles), but I’ve always had a bit of a 90’s edge.. And black. Always black.
KJ: You are not from Dallas originally right? How did you end up here?
WTB: We are not from Dallas, and we’re not really from anywhere. We’ll spare you the long story and make it as short as possible! We moved 17+ times growing up and spent many years overseas. In 2010 our parents were living in Dallas so when Sarah graduated from college, she ended up here by default (moving back in with the parents). Our parents moved away few months later (as they always do) but Sarah ended up staying here for her job at Neiman Marcus. Her (now) husband moved here shortly thereafter and Dallas has become their ‘home’. In January 2015, Natalie moved to Dallas to try something new and voila, we are still here!
KJ: What does a “day in the life look like”?
Natalie: Depends on the day (because I still work part-time as a finance/accounting recruiter). So, on We the Birds days: I wake up to a cup of French press coffee, turn on CNBC squawk box and catch up on emails. Then I begin a batch of macarons while intermittently responding to calls and emails. Once the macarons are baked and decorated, I take photos of them in my home-studio so we can post the images on our blog and Instagram. In the afternoon, I sit down with my laptop to tackle our book-keeping and start drafting blog content for the following week. Most days, I go for a run in the evening on the Katy trail followed by dinner with my boyfriend or friends. I usually end my day back on my laptop.
Sarah: I wake up and stay in bed as long as I can looking at my phone. Get dressed (I always get dressed even though I work from home, it makes me feel more productive). Feed Jeffrey (my dog). Cigarette. I usually sit down at my computer with my breakfast and start editing photos or working on client design projects. Eat and cigarette. Afternoons are usually spent in client meetings or photo shoots. Many cigarettes. Touch base with Natalie about we the birds stuff. Husband comes home and makes dinner (because he’s the best) and then I make him watch reality tv shows (guilty as charged). Husband goes to sleep. Cigarette. I continue editing photos until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Cigarettes… Sleep.
KJ: Who are your fashion icons/inspirations?
Natalie: Kate Bosworth — she used to be sporty back in the ’Blue Crush’ days but now she’s been elevated to a style icon. I definitely relate to the tomboy turned fashion-lover.
Sarah: I’ve always loved Kate Moss. I actually love the way Londoners dress in general — there’s just a simple coolness to throwing on a T shirt , jeans, heeled boots, and topping it off with a coat (a furry coat to be specific).
KJ: What brands do you typically wear? What do you look for in new brands?
Natalie: Everlane, Topshop and Zara are my go-to’s. I look for wearable, quality pieces that are both unique and functional.
Sarah: I love Nasty Gal. I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve spent there over the years…. (I actually do know and it’s bad). Nasty Gal is my go-to for affordable trendy clothes that aren’t going to fall apart after the first wear. But I also appreciate quality basics and Foremost definitely fits the bill for that. I notice new brands based on their social media imagery and branding. And I always notice the price-point to quality ratio ;)
KJ: What is the most important item in your closets?
Natalie: My chunky, lace-up black boots from topshop. I wear them with everything and always feel good.
Sarah: Shoes — all my shoes. I have a ‘shoe wall’ which is basically a shrine of my shoe collection.