Nikki and Brie Garcia Are Reclaiming Their Power and No Longer Asking For Permission

At nearly 40 years old, Nikki and Brie Garcia are no longer asking for permission: to grow in their careers, to embrace their true identities, to prioritize their families. They're taking charge, and starting by changing their names and leaving the WWE for good.

On March 14, Nikki and Brie, formerly known as WWE superstars The Bella Twins, announced they were officially walking away from the ring, retiring the Bella surname, and returning to their legal maiden last names of Garcia. "I feel like every relationship always comes to an end. There's always this part in a relationship where you're kind of like, 'I think we've done everything we've wanted to do,'" Brie tells POPSUGAR. "And Nicole and I, about a year ago, kind of just really felt in our hearts, 'It's time to take the next step. It's time to start a new chapter.' "

For the twins, this was strictly business. "Brie and I are all about women empowerment, and when we made the decision, it was just kind of wanting to walk the talk," Nikki explains. "But for me, being a Garcia is just being able to truly use my voice and not have to answer to anyone. It's being my own boss and owning my career, my life, and my power." Brie adds, "We were just like, 'We're going to take the reins back and we're going to have full control.'"

"Be free. Be that butterfly and go."

Nikki and Brie toyed with the idea of taking their husbands' last names, Chigvintsev and Danielson, respectively, however, it was important for them to return to their roots. (Nikki is married to dancing pro Artem Chigvintsev, while Brie wed fellow pro wrestler Bryan Danielson in 2014.) "We wanted to go back to who we were before," Brie explains, adding that it took her and Nikki a couple weeks before they finally landed on The Garcia Twins. "[It] just felt right."

"It's such a metaphor for us, because for so long when we were the Bellas. Brie and I came up with that name and it was because of our full-blooded Italian grandfather, who is a massive part of our life and our upbringing. That was a showcase of our Italian roots, and stepping into Garcia, it's like we finally get to represent our Mexican side," says Nikki, whose father is Mexican. According to Nikki, she and Brie embraced a meditation practice as they weighed out their options. "I just started to think of my ancestors and what the women went through centuries ago," Nikki adds. "I was like, 'You know what? Being a Garcia is representing my Mexican side, my ancestors who had no voice.' And it just got really deep for me. I was like, 'I am a Garcia and I'm so damn proud of it.'"

Sequoia Emmanuelle

Yet even as they turn their focus inward, Nikki and Brie can't stop themselves from prioritizing their fans. In fact, when contemplating their next move, their key worry was whether or not the Bella Army was ready for it. "We were actually more concerned about everyone else than ourselves because we had been doing the work and we were ready for it, but we didn't know if everyone else would be," says Brie. "But other than that, I feel like we have such a loyal fan base who loves being on the journey with us, and I feel like so many of them are going through what we're going through."

Brie hopes her and Nikki's transition encourages fans to take that leap of faith they've been thinking about, whatever it may be. "Do it, because life is short and we should wear a lot of different hats and do a lot of different things because the beautiful part of life is that we can," Brie adds. "Be free. Be that butterfly and go."

"Life is short and we should wear a lot of different hats and do a lot of different things because the beautiful part of life is that we can."

With identity changes made, what's next for the Garcia Twins? In addition to continuing to work on their podcast "The Nikki & Brie Show," Nikki and Brie are currently gearing up for the summer premiere of Prime Video's new dating competition series "Twin Love." The show, which is hosted by Nikki and Brie, is described as a social dating experiment that explores the romantic lives of identical twins. According to Amazon, "10 sets of twins will be separated and placed into two houses of 'identical' casts, where they'll begin a unique and compelling search for love." "Brie and I cannot wait for the world to see 'Twin Love.' It's so good," raves Nikki. "I want that to have a gazillion seasons because I'm just someone who loves that kind of TV."

Nikki is also getting ready to resume her hosting duties when filming begins in a few weeks for season two of Blake Shelton and Carson Daly's celebrity game show "Barmageddon." Nikki says, "I absolutely love the show. I love hosting. It's something that I want to do more and more." She adds, "Individually and together, we both really want to grow in TV. We want to grow in non-scripted and continue to make magic happen, whether that's on a hosting stage or in front of the camera doing what Brie and I do best, but also scripted."

Outside of the entertainment world, the sisters are flexing their entrepreneurial endeavors — mainly, expanding their Bonita Bonita wine brand. They're starting by building a tasting room in Napa Valley, "so when everyone comes to Napa Valley, they can drink like the Garcias," Brie reveals. "We finally found a place, and now we're doing the business part."

Still, the most important thing for Nikki and Brie is to challenge themselves and continue empowering others with everything they do. Brie explains, "I miss that. I miss being really nervous about something and being like, 'Am I capable and pushing myself?' And I would love to do that in the acting world. I want to do it as an entrepreneur, too. I love going into business meetings a little nervous being like, 'Am I educated enough to keep up with these conversations?' And then when I do it, I walk out of there feeling so empowered."

"I'm moving slower and with more grace. I feel like I did that as Brie Bella, but I feel like I'm a little more wiser."

Philanthropy is also another major focus for Brie. She wants to do "more activist work with Greenpeace." She shares, "I've been doing more and more with them. If I could be a superhero for anyone, I'd love to do it for Mother Earth and just help her. I've always had a dream of ending my life with United Nations and finding more world peace."

In this next chapter, the moms (Nikki to one son, Brie to a son and a daughter) are more intentional with everything. "I'm moving slower and with more grace. I did that as Brie Bella, but I feel like I'm a little more wiser [as Brie Garcia]," says Brie. "I know more what I want, and I'm not afraid to voice it anymore."

"This next part of my life, I'm going to do whatever it is I want to do, and if I fail, oh well, I'll fail in front of everyone, but it'll be fun. I'm not going to have any regrets," Brie adds. "I don't want to lay on my deathbed and be like, 'Gosh, I was the master of none. I was too afraid to do something.' I want to do it all and I'm going to do it."

Nikki echoes her sister's mindset: "This journey is about getting my power back and my strength and being unapologetically me, through and through. Not caring about offending people, but also having grace and being kind. A mantra I've always lived by, even in college, was always, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' And I've always done that through empowering women — and I'll continue to do that."