It all started with a broken oven and a pie that needed baking. That’s how all business partnerships start, right? For Linsey Metcalf and Tara Bauerschlag it is.
The once Austin, Texas, neighbors knew it was just a matter of time before they would collaborate on a business endeavor. Bauerschlag’s sewing background complements Metcalf’s design expertise and together, through hard work and badassery, their flag making company took off.
The Wild Standard began as an idea, floated slowly toward reality when a friend in Atlanta asked for a flag, and in October Bauershlag and Metcalf launched their online store.
What’s your background?
Linsey Metcalf: Well let’s see, I, myself, am from Texas — more specifically and most recently, Austin where queso and breakfast tacos flow freely. And in recent news, I am a resident of Los Angeles where you can find neither queso nor breakfast tacos. I work as a graphic designer in digital marketing by day and as a flag maker with Tara by night.
Tara Bauerschlag: I’m Texas born and raised. My roots grew pretty deep here. Sewing and building have always been something I’ve loved. My mom taught me how to sew when I was 8 years old, maybe younger. Then I moved up to sewing costumes in high school — I was a theatre tech kid so I was making all of the costumes for shows. With my background, I set myself up to build flags with Linsey in Austin.
How did The Wild Standard start? What got you into flag making?
LM: I have wanted to jump into flag making for some time now. Tara and I had conversations about a year earlier about doing a collaboration and never found any opportunities with our schedules.
My friend Phil Sanders out in Atlanta called me up back in July and asked if I wanted to make a couple flags for his creative co-working space he was starting. I worked up the art for Phil and pulled all the materials together. At that point, I called Tara and asked her if she wanted to join in and stitch this thing up for me. From there we finalized all the details, went through a couple prototypes and finally landed on the flag we have today.
Our flag in Atlanta had great reception thanks to Phil. And Tara and I worked well together, so we thought we’d give flag making a stab. From there we formed The Wild Standard and officially launched in October.
From where do you guys draw your inspiration?
LM: Inspiration is pulled from all over the place but the deepest roots are intertwined in history and a bit of simplicity. Most of what drives us is our self-motivation to make and create with our own hands.
TB: I can honestly say that I have a bit of a competitiveness that drives me. This is a venture I haven’t explored before so the drive to learn something new and make sure it lives up to my standards in quality and aesthetic [is what drives me].
Is The Wild Standard a full-time gig?
LM: Actually, we both have full-time jobs! I am a graphic designer at a digital marketing agency and a flag maker by night ... and on weekends.
TB: [Laughs] No, I am a heavy day-jobber. I work for an asphalt paving company as the contracts manager. I work the day job and then I go back to work when I get home. Insert Rosie the Riveter.
So when you aren’t working, what do you love to do with your free time?
LM: Definitely kicking up dirt with friends and being with the people that mean the most to me. Roaming around and traveling to mountainous regions. Very specific there — there MUST be mountains involved.
TB: I’m really loving going to concerts. Thank god my sister is here to tell me about them cause I don’t have time to look them up anymore. Bike rides, books, movies, hosting dinner parties and just spending time with friends.
What challenges have you faced while building The Wild Standard?
TB: Mostly ego. I feel like when starting your own business, you put what you love in front of everyone and just hope they like what we have. That’s a huge risk if people don’t take to it. And, of course, there’s a monetary risk, as well as time and relationships since this requires so much attention.
Can you describe the process behind making the flags?
LM: Well Tara and I clearly do not live in the same town, or even the same state. And a little backstory: many years ago we used to live next door to one another in Austin, which is how we first met — my oven was broken and there was a pie that was in desperate need of cooking, thus we became instant friends.
To make The Wild Standard happen, there are lots of phone calls and FaceTime and texting back and forth. From LA I handle design and creative and from Austin Tara handles production, along with her adorable boyfriend’s pinning skills, stitching up every flag and shipping off to folks. In a perfect world, sure we’d love to be in the same room, it would make a lot of things easier, but you work with what you’ve got and that’s part of what makes you different.
Who are some of your idols or mentors?
LM: I find it so difficult to pinpoint one individual. I tend to find that my life is made up of the influences of so many different people, each giving varying degrees of influence and all of equal and great importance to me.
TB: I come from a long line of women makers. My Oma (dad’s mom) was constantly embroidering, tatting, always making things with her hands. Basically any time she would sit, she would have either a book or a craft in her hand. My mom taught me to sew, bought me my first sewing machine and always encouraged me that if I wanted something I should make it, which was her secret way to be all in or think about the “want.” She made the majority of her clothes when she was my age. I think she wanted to pass that on to me. My grandma (mom’s mom) used to run a business of making jewelry and pens. I think it runs in the family.
What has been your favorite collaboration project so far?
LM: Well we haven’t done too many so far, and all of our collabs have been a dream. [My favorite would be] our first flag we made for a friend out in Atlanta, and to be honest, we wouldn’t be here without him. And Christian. I’ve been a fan of him for a while now, so it has been a lot of fun to get to know him. Incredible fellow. And most recently, we have been working with Dana Tanamachi Williams. I’ve been a big fan of her and her work for several years now, and have had the chance to talk to her here and there over the years, so it was a no brainer to invite her into what we were doing.
TB: I think truly my biggest collaboration has been with Linsey. Building a business with someone is an incredible venture. By sheer coincidence we met six years ago over a broken oven. We just became fast friends who would hang at each other’s apartments just to hang.
What does the future look like for The Wild Standard?
TB: Right now I would say our main focus is to build our business in to something we are both proud of. We definitely want to try our hand at artless flags and we are in the process of working up some waxed canvas flags — even some that are a little smaller in size. We want to keep with the flags but venture into playing with what tools we have and see where those will take us.
Do you have any advice for other creatives and entrepreneurs looking to start their own brands?
LM: Find a good team to work with. Find someone who will let you use their oven to cook pie. Do what you love. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.
TB: Don’t quit. It gets hard. Really, really hard. But don’t quit. Planning is your best way to succeed. If you’re not having fun, you need to rethink it because you’re going to be doing it every day and thinking about it every waking moment. Starting a business plagues your brain in an amazingly wonderful way. Listen to advice, don’t necessarily take it, but do listen. Lastly, it's always fun to get to know the individuals behind the brands better.
To learn more about The Wild Standard and purchase products, visit thewildstandard.com
Images and Interview courtesy of The Wild Standard.
This interview has been condensed and edited.