It all started with a buttermilk pie. A few years ago, Linsey Metcalf, a graphic designer, was in the middle of baking one with her roommate in their Austin apartment when the oven broke. She decided to knock on the door of her friendly neighbor, Tara Bauerschlag, and ask to use hers. The two creatives—Bauerschlag has a background in costume construction—soon became fast friends.
Not long after, a friend of Metcalf’s asked her if she could design a flag for his company to sell. She immediately enlisted her new acquaintance, a sewing expert, to help her create the prototype. Within weeks of its release, the company had forty orders, and Metcalf and Bauerschlag knew they were on to something. In 2014 they formed a business partnership, though they weren’t quite ready to quit their day jobs.
The company, which they named the Wild Standard, finally became their sole focus last year, with Metcalf designing the lettering and Bauerschlag crafting the flags in their studio. Today, 90 percent of their business is custom orders, but they also make city-themed flags and flags based on their own designs. The pair collaborates with other artists as well; the popular canvas flag that reads “Texas: Never Retreat, Never Surrender” was created with Christian Watson, of the art company 1924us.
“It took us a while to come up with the name for the company,” Bauerschlag says. “I was inspired by one of our earliest flags, which simply had the word ‘Wild’ across it. We are both generally logical thinkers. Breaking out of our normal routine to start a flag business was pretty wild.” Metcalf adds, “I love how the name evokes the imagery of a flag flying wild.”
Q&A with Linsey Metcalf and Tara Bauerschlag
There was a time when Linsey moved to L.A. and Tara was still in Austin and you both had full-time jobs. How did you find time to work on the business?
Linsey Metcalf: We would work at night and on the weekends and text and email back and forth. On Monday, we would hop on the phone and talk about what needed to get done. We always joke that if it wasn’t for technology, there was no way we could have pulled it off.
You have made more than five hundred flags. Which are you most proud of?
LM: Our Atlanta Braves flag. It was the largest we had made, at six-by-eleven feet, and was our first-ever appliqué flag. We pitched the design, and they loved it. But then we had to figure out how to do it.
How did you come to work with the Atlanta Braves?
LM: A friend of ours was working with the team on a retail space. We were brought in to create wholesale flags but ended up making a wall flag. It turned into one of the most photographed walls in Atlanta.
What’s your favorite thing from a crafting perspective, Tara?
Tara Bauerschlag: Designing and building a flag that isn’t a normal shape is always a blast—projects that push me outside of my comfort zone, like our swallowtail flags; the Luck, Texas, flag; and our Nashville appliqué flag.
You work in several media, right?
LM: We screen-print, appliqué, and embroider. Our screen-printed flags have a beautiful texture, something we work hard to achieve. Our appliqué letters are cut from canvas and stitched on to give them a rugged touch. And embroidery is more precise, with the thread stitched on by a machine and digital software.
If you could make a flag for anyone, who would it be?
LM: We would love to make a set for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Folks use flags in Zilker Park when marking their location for meeting up with friends. It would be so fun to be a part of that culture.
For more information, go to thewildstandard.com.