If your only image of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is as the mop-top child actresses who starred in the TV series Full House, you need to hit the reset button.
In the current chapter of their lives, they’re award-winning clothing designers jointly running a company, Dualstar, with more than a billion dollars in annual sales. Their luxury clothing brand, The Row, is also a cause: through it, the twins hope to help bring high-end fashion manufacturing back to the United States. Most of the items in their collections are produced in New York and Los Angeles, and the Olsens have spoken out frequently about the need to revive high-skill clothing manufacturing here.
“I really believe in our being able to create here and utilize the skills that people have here,” Ashley told Newsweek. “The skill set is here. Our main issue is that some of the machinery is gone, so some knitwear is produced in Italy. But whether it’s clothing or cars, I believe in manufacturing as close to home as possible.”
The twins’ entrepreneurial ventures started back when they were 12 and designed a line of clothes for Walmart. They started The Row in 2006, when they were 19. (They also create a more affordable collection called Elizabeth and James, and a line of teen clothes called Olsenboye.) Their designs have earned them respect both inside and outside the fashion industry: in 2012, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named them the best womens-wear designers in the United States, and trendsetters like Michelle Obama don their clothes.