Fridays with Flea Style: We the Birds
Ask Sarah and Natalie Knowlton what neighborhood they live in, and they will reply “the world.” That’s because these sisters and co-founders of We the Birds are a sophisticated pair with a global vibe. They list fashion, design, food and travel as their passions. Sarah is the mind behind the brand’s creative studio. Natalie is macaron maker extraordinaire. They are the consummate urban dwellers — yet decidedly down to earth.
Maybe you spotted them at our Summit. You can certainly try Natalie’s macarons at our fall show in Dallas. But why not get to know them right here?
Tell us a bit about your biz. We started We the Birds over a year and a half ago when Natalie moved to Dallas and we found ourselves in the same city for the first time in 10 years.
What’s behind the name? We grew up in a very transient family and moved many times before college. We are fortunate to have lived in many countries. Because of our on-the-go upbringing, we always referred to ourselves as the birds.
In a single sentence, take turns describing each other.
Sarah > Natalie: Natalie is a multi-talented, motivated, optimist who has a heart of gold and likes to see everyone around her thrive (she’s always my biggest fan).
Natalie > Sarah: Sarah is an extraordinary creative with fierce loyalty to her friends/family and unparalleled drive and passion for her business (she is also my biggest fan).
What’s a typical workday?
Sarah: Wake up; look at Instagram. Eventually get dressed and feed Jeffrey Campbell (my dog). Cigarette. I grab breakfast at Einstein Bros. Bagels and head to our new studio/office @PlaceOnParry. Touch base with Nat and our team about all things We the Birds. I spend the rest of the morning responding to emails. For lunch, I grab a Soylent (my new favorite meal-on-the-go) from the fridge. Cigarette. Afternoons are usually spent in client meetings, photo shoots, or editing photos for our blog. Many cigarettes. I usually head home around 6 p.m. Edit photos until my husband comes home. He usually makes dinner (because he’s the best) and then I make him watch reality TV shows with me. Cigarettes. I continue editing photos until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.
Natalie: For me, it looks like this: 6 a.m.: wake up and hit the trail. 7 a.m.: coffee and breakfast while checking emails and watching CNBC Squawk Box. 9 a.m.: head to our studio @PlaceOnParry, meet with Sarah on the blog and discuss next week’s lineup, get to work on blog content and emails, make macarons for any orders, decorate macarons, shoot macarons, shoot outfit. Leave the studio around 6 p.m. My boyfriend and I both love to cook, so we usually unwind at night by cooking together and watching a movie.
Sarah, how did you get into the design biz? I graduated from college with a double major in studio art and French (and also worked in the IT department at my school). I had never really given much thought to what I wanted to do to make money — I just knew that I loved making art and I had always hoped that I would work for Vogue one day. When I first graduated, I started to pursue a career in photography (since that was my concentration in college). I ended up working several unpaid internships at different publications around the country and eventually realized that my true calling was graphic design. It is the perfect marriage of art and computers! Eventually, I got a job here in Dallas at the Neiman Marcus headquarters as a web designer. Five years later, Nat and I decided to launch We the Birds.
Natalie, how did you get into the macaron biz? I always wanted to start a small business, and I had lots of ideas throughout the years. Macarons stuck when I realized that I was making a product that people really liked. It started with an absolute love for macarons, coupled with the fact that they are naturally gluten free (I had just been diagnosed with gluten intolerance at the time). My intense curiosity for these delicate pastries led to the macaron-making phase. I took on the daunting challenge of learning the art of the French macaron. After 50-plus failed attempts, I perfected what is now the recipe behind We the Birds | Macarons.
There are other macarons. What makes WTB stand out? WTB truly customizes each order to meet the customer’s vision. We handcraft each macaron. Everything is made in small batches to ensure maximum flavor and freshness. WTB decorates most macarons with edible gold and custom artwork, so there is a real element of creativity, and each batch is unique.
Favorite flavor from the WTB lineup?
Natalie: I am a sucker for the chai tea with dark chocolate ganache. Mint chocolate comes in a close second.
Sarah: Mimosa (orange with Champagne buttercream).
Name four people you’d like to eat macarons with.
Natalie: Pepere (my late grandfather), Pope Francis.
Sarah: Steven Tyler, Zac Efron.
Natalie: I’d like to be completely self-employed with a business setup in Dallas and L.A. (and national delivery!).
Sarah: I’ve never been keen on setting goals, but starting a business kind of changed me. I’d like to be able to travel and buy gifts for everyone I love whenever I want.
Best advice ever received?
Natalie: Our dad told us, “A man’s character never changes. Surround yourself with people who have good character.”
Sarah: Nothing happens overnight.
Describe your style in five words.
Natalie: Modern, tomboy, less-is-more, gray, black.
Sarah: Eclectic, experimental, trendy, ’90s, black.
Favorite places to shop for your home?
Natalie: Canvas Homes, antiques stores, Target, Design Within Reach.
Sarah: Restoration Hardware, Overstock, thrift stores.
Favorite places to shop for your closet?
Natalie: ASOS, Zara, Helmut Lang, Nike.
Sarah: Nasty Gal.
Favorite eats in Dallas?
Natalie: Uchi, Tei Tei Robata Bar, Nektar Juice, Neighborhood Services.
Sarah: Uchi, Hillstone, Malai Kitchen, The Cupcakery (to fuel my addiction to cake balls).
Most important non-living possession?
Natalie: Miraculous medal necklace.
Sarah: My wedding ring.
Dream travel destination and why?
Natalie: Mykonos. One, it’s foreign to me, and I love foreign places. Two, I just love the white buildings against the vivid blue sea and have to see it in real life. I am an island girl and will go anywhere with warm weather and a beach.
Sarah: Egypt. I’ve never been, and I really want to see the pyramids in real life, the markets and relive all the classical history in that region.
On your playlist currently?
Natalie: “Chet Porter – Stay (feat. Chelsea Cutler).”
Best concert ever (musician/band/year) and why?
Natalie: Explosions in the Sky, Austin, Texas, on the Fourth of July 2009.
Sarah: Ditto ^
Natalie: Cooking, running outside, origami.
Sarah: Shopping, getting into deep conversations with people, editing photos.
Ways you relax?
Natalie: Running, couch time, spas, breathing.
Sarah: Pause app, Sunday couch time, bubble baths.
FLEA STYLE SPEED ROUND
Up with the chickens or burning the midnight oil?
Natalie: A bit of both recently. Preferably, up with the chickens.
Sarah: Burning that midnight oil.
Coffee or tea?
Natalie: I make French press coffee with a shot of chai concentrate or green tea, so both.
Sarah: Tea (no caffeine — it makes me lose my mind).
Dogs or cats?
Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
Sarah: Insta Stories.
Sunrise or sunset?
Pants or dresses?