Wrestling with a Conscience
WWE stars the Bella Twins champion causes with a killer clothes line.
By Niki D’Andrea
When Brie Bella and her husband Bryan Danielson were packing up to move out of their Phoenix home and into their new house in Seattle, the couple sat eating salad together and reminiscing about their favorite moments in the house in a segment for the TV show Total Bellas that aired in June.
“One of my favorite memories of you in this house is how you get excited about decorating for the different seasons,”Danielson said, “and you get really happy and you’re putting everything around.” Brie Bella nodded. “Especially Christmas.”
“Christmas, but even the Halloween and Thanksgiving stuff, you get really excited to do it,” Danielson added.
The couple, who gained fame as figures in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)-he as champion wrestler Daniel Bryan, she as one-half of WWE divas duo The Bella Twins with sister Nikki-have seen many different seasons in their personal and professional lives. Much of the former can be seen in the TV show Total Bellas, which airs Sunday nights on the E! channel. Much of the latter, at least for Brie Bella, is on display at shop.birdiebee.com and pop-up shops in metro Phoenix, most recently at Desert Ridge Marketplace.
Birdiebee is the Bella twins’ apparel collection, but it’s more than a clothing line to them. It’s a vision and a mission, one that reflects both their personal values and their childhood and teenage years in the Valley of the Sun.
Of Scottsdale Soccer Fields and Farms
On a warm morning in mid-May, Brie and Nikki Bella are hosting a meet-and-greet at the Birdiebee pop-up at Desert Ridge Marketplace. Before opening the doors to the hundreds of fans outside forming a line that winds around several buildings, the twins talk about the values instilled in them and the Birdiebee brand: “BEE Empowered. BEE Fearless. BEE Giving. BEE You.”
“Nicole and I, just being a part of the WWE and getting those platforms, and being in a male¬dominated industry and breaking all these barriers as women, we wanted to create a brand that brought women together-that united them, inspired them, but also gave them the courage to be brave, to be fearless,” Brie says. “That’s something we’ve always stood for.”
The Birdiebee line includes active wear, leisure apparel, and intimates. It’s clothing that literally makes a statement: Tank tops, t-shirts, and sweaters say things like “Hustle and heart will set you apart,” “Surround yourself with good people,” and “There is happiness in my heart today.”
Fabrics range from 100 percent cotton to blends of polyester, cotton, and rayon to lace and nylon (lingerie). The common denominator is comfort, explains Nikki Bella. “Brie and I being WWE super-stars and soccer players before that and really just enjoying working out, we wanted something that’s very leisure … For so long, we were either in our wrestling outfits or we’d be dressed up for the red carpet events, and I don’t think people realized how much Brie and I love leisure wear,” Nikki says. “We like being comfortable. We very much have that California vibe to us, so we brought that a lot to Birdie bee.”
Born in San Diego on November 21, 1983 as Stephanie Nicole and Brianna Monique Garcia-Colace, Nikki and Brie’s family moved to a farm in Scottsdale when they very young. Brie has talked about being raised with horses, cows, and chickens and described how she and her sister would have to wake up early to feed the animals before school, then feed the animals after school, then head straight to soccer practice. The sisters played soccer in a Scottsdale club for years. They graduated from Chaparral High School in 2002 and moved to San Diego to attend college before relocating to Los Angeles a year later. They were signed to contracts with WWE in 2007. Brie moved back to Phoenix after her marriage to Danielson in 2014. Nikki moved back to San Diego.
Nikki, who has had a high profile on again/off again relationship with WWE superstar and actor John Cena (as of June, their marriage was on again), says the Bella Twins’ strong WWE personas are reflected in the Birdiebee collection. “Especially with our aspirational sayings, we wanted to bring a lot of’Fearless Nikki’ into play, and ‘Brie Mode’ into play and the Bella Twins from WWE, and that’s why you see a lot of our sayings with the words ‘fearless,’ and ‘strong,”‘ she says. “We want to really inspire women to be on the ring of what we do.”
Both Bellas have a favorite Birdiebee item. “I’ll admit, I’m always a midriff-and I love our crop tanks and how it ties up,”Nikki says. “I’ve always looked for an item like that, so when we started making it and working with the designer, I just really wanted it because I love it, and I’ll wear it with my workout pants or my favorite jeans.”
Brie enthuses about Birdiebee’s aspirational sayings. “I love lnstagram and I love taking selfies and there’s nothing better than having your billboard on you. Like, ‘Dreams are free.’ I remember when we were coming up with designs, I was like, ‘Dreams are free because I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t believe in that,”‘ she says. “We grew up in Phoenix, Arizona-that’s why we wanted our pop-up store to be here, because we wanted kids to know it doesn’t matter how big your dreams are. You can accomplish it. So ‘Dreams are free’ is probably one of my favorite shirts, because it reminds people, ‘If you want to be an astronaut, be an astronaut! Go to Jupiter!”‘
The Birds and the Bees
Contrary to popular belief, Birdiebee is not named after Brie Bella’s 14-month-old daughter, Birdie Joe Danielson. But Nikki Bella says, “One day she will be our mascot. We’ll have to get a Birdie line for Birdiebee.”
The brand name, Brie Bella explains, is “a little nod to the birds and bees.”
“Because we did start off being an intimate brand with an intimate line, we thought Birdie bee was cute because everyone’s always nervous to talk about feminine bodies,” she says, “and we’re like, ‘It’s cute! The birds and the bees.’ And we do see Birdiebee growing into feminine hygiene products.”
Expanding into feminine hygiene products is just one way the twins see Birdiebee growing. The Desert Ridge Marketplace popup closed in mid-June after two successful months, but Nikki says they hope to have more pop-up shops, and adds that the Total Bellas show this season will have “a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with Birdiebee.”
In addition to growing the Birdiebee brand, the Bella Twins believe in giving back to worthy causes. “For Nikki and I, creating a brand, the first thing we thought was that it has to be a giving back brand. Because it’s so important to us,” Brie says. “Being with WWE, we were so lucky to be a part of Make a Wish and anti¬bullying campaigns, and that’s what we wanted to continue to do. The first charity we worked with was Dress for Success. Because Nicole and I know how hard it is to go out there and try to have the confidence to interview and go out there and try to become something. We love Dress for Success and everything they do.”
”And then her and I are also looking for more charities to help women become stronger,” she continues. “The thing about Birdiebee is, the reason we wanted quality fabrics is because we actually care about feminine health care. We know that’s a hard thing here in the states. So it’s supporting feminine health care and helping women and young girls become aware of our bodies.”
Going back to the aspirational sayings on some of their gear, Brie says, “We wanted women to be able to put on a shirt and think, ‘You know what? Strong does look good on me. I am strong. I am bold. I am fearless.’ It was really important for us to inspire women the way we feel in the morning when we wake up.”
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