The Third Olsen
Written By: Kat
I am going to come right out and confess: I have a slightly creepy obsession with the Olsen twins.
I don’t idolize them, per-se; I don’t buy their products, and I haven’t marathoned their entire filmography, but I do follow their personal lives very closely. Where they’re eating, what they’re wearing, what business moves they are making next. The Olsens are my voyeuristic celebrity pleasure. For as long as I can remember, more than any superficial celebrity wish ever, I have wanted to be part of the Olsen twins.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were born June 13, 1986– true Gemini twins. I was born approximately 6 months later. My mother reports that in the days of Full House, whenever Michelle was on the screen, I was glued. This all started very early in life.
The Olsens and I grew up together. Throughout the early-mid 90s, I watched all their Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley VHS tapes and saw most of their films, up till about 1999 when they sold the remaining pieces of their childhood (or maybe they never really had any…) to the corporate world– becoming some of the first celebrities to fully capitalize on their namesakes with perfumes, clothing, books, dolls, and more straight-to-VHS movies. The girls were actually very involved in designing their clothing lines– two tween/teen girls deciding what tween/teen girls want: it’s practically brilliant. Their Wal-Mart lines became quite a hit, accruing the ladies the kind of wealth before 18 years old, that would have them living luxe for the rest of their lives.
Obvi the ambitious Olsen twins were not ready to stop there, though.
The girls escaped adolescence pretty intact, especially by Hollywood standards. Ashley retired from acting, cos she just wasn’t feelin’ it anymore, and Mary-Kate went through an eating disorder and possible drug habit phase, which in the strange world of celebrities, actually helped keep her somewhat relevant. Ashley took on the role of the serious, introverted Olsen, while Mary-Kate became the artsy, free-spirit seeming twin. Ashley has said that she’s been sitting in board meetings since she was in her early teens, absorbing and loving the business end of things. Mary-Kate gained notoriety for her quirky “hobo-chic” NYC looks. They created a perfect dichotomy, like a metaphoric pair of characters from a novel. It’s like even just the incidental parts of their lives have geared them toward success.
Since they became legal adults, this 5’1” pair of entrepreneurial geniuses has started not one, but THREE clothing lines, all catering to different markets. Their high-fashion line “The Row” has been heralded by some of the industry’s top names; and their other two lines “Elizabeth and James,” a high-end department store line named after their siblings, and “Olsenboye,” their most affordable line, are both quite successful. The girls say that designing fashion, in spite of no formal training, came easy to them because they grew up in dressing rooms. When you think about it, they have been immersed in clothing their whole lives, and have nearly 25 years of hands-on experience dealing with designers. LUCKY!!
Somehow in life, the Olsens were blessed with high cheekbones and an innate inclination toward conglomerating and horizontal market expansion; while I wound up in the rust-belt chasing the American dream. We all graduated high school in 2004, and I went off to binge drink at my state school of choice, while they casually attended NYU (for …fun??), and had what I assume to be swanky coke parties with hip, new bohemian celebrities. On their 18th birthday, the girls became co-owners of a multimillion dollar company– they are now worth an estimated $100 million, while I excitedly opened a credit card to bury myself in debt.
The Olsens officially won the genetic lottery in 1986. I just keep hoping some day, they will realize that what they really need is a “third heat.” A third Olsen. If that day ever comes, back the eff off, ladies, I’M ON DECK!