By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)
Fans of VH1‘s competition series Twinning, know Shawn and Claire Buitendorp, the fashion forward designing duo from the Midwest who have dominated the competition with their fair play and incredible knack for knowing one another. With one episode left, the girls are positioned to possibly win the grand prize of $222,222.22, money that would boost their company Shock and Awww, named for their opposing styles. Whether they win first place or not, however, these two are already a success in their own right. Grabbing internships with their idol, Betsey Johnson, right out of high school by forming friendships with the sales people at multiple stores, the twins have already had access to a wealth of knowledge from a fashion master. Ambition runs deep in their veins and their clothes have already been worn by Katy Perry. I spotted this dream team during New York Fashion Week when they came out to support fellow Betsey inspiree Michelle Rene‘s latest line (more on that next week!)
TBB: I’m particularly interested in twins, as a mother of twins myself. Tell me what advice, as twins, would give to parents of twins.
SB: I have the perfect answer for this! I think the best advice is to give a parent of twins is to make some choices for your twins about how close they are, but also let them discover that as well. My parents originally had us in school together, and then they said, “Girls, do you want this? Do you actually like this?”, giving us the freedom to make our own decisions. We ultimately decided that we wanted to be together. Many people think twins need to be separated to grow and become individuals, and I understand that, but again, many twins need to be together to find and realize their potential.
TBB: Why go on a reality show about twins?
SB: I have an answer for that one too.
TBB: Are you always the spokesperson?
SB: Yes, I am! (both laughing)
CB: She is…
SB: When else do you get to be around twins in that capacity? We were surrounded by eleven other sets of identical twins and for once you’re not (feeling like) the oddity. You know, you’re “the norm” which is an amazing feeling because you can see how everyone else gets the questions you do. (They) get the reactions to their closeness that we do, and it was nice to be amongst our kind. Plus it was the first show of its kind. There had never been (other) shows dedicated solely to twins. Though it may have an underlying theme of a competition series, we were very interested in the fact that it was brand new and very fresh. And again, when do you have the opportunity to win $222,222.22?
TBB: There are a lot more multiples being born now because of fertility treatments and women having children when they are older. Do think that created a need for twins to have a greater presence on television?
SB: I think that’s a very interesting concept. I think that if you bring twins more into the…
CB: forefront and the limelight…
SB: it will give the public more of an awareness and acceptance of them.
TBB: Be honest, is there any kind of bias, or competition between those who are identical twins and those who are fraternal twins?
SB: I don’t think it’s a bias, but I think the public has a perception that identical twins are more similar and get along better than fraternal twins do. Obviously as an identical twin, I can speak for myself saying that we do get along very well and that we are very similar, so in many ways I can’t speak as being a fraternal twin, but I think the public does have that perception. Within the realm of twins, I don’t think so, because we all understand that being born together is different than being a singleton and there are always differences that will come with that. (Turns to Claire) Do you think so?
CB: I’m not saying that one is better than the other, simply that because we share so many genes, that there is a bond that is very special, it’s very apparent. It’s very special in that the way that we were given a very amazing gift to be so similar to each other.
SB: You just said very a lot!
CB: Very…very very very…you say “ummm”
SB: Okay, fine.
TBB: What is the best thing about being a twin?
SB: The best thing about being a twin is that I always have someone to have my back. I know that that’s a common answer, but it’s genuinely the truth that I have a partner in life already. In some ways that’s also the worst thing about being a twin, because as we get older, we’re 25 now, it’s hard to find another partner in life. It’s very difficult, because I already have one. I want to spend my life with another person, but luckily she fills the spot for now.
CB: I would have to say an extended wardrobe…
SB: That is true, there are more clothing choices!
TBB: What was your favorite thing about being on Twinning?
SB: I think my favorite thing about being on the show is that Claire and I are very competitive individuals and I love to prove the strength of our twin-ship. I love to prove that we are very close, that we are very in tune, and because of that, we’re able to win numerous challenges and overcome obstacles and dominate thus far. I mean we have three episodes to go, but we’re doing very well.
TBB: Would you do it again?
SB: In a heartbeat!
CB: Yes! I would say while there are certainly days where I was down, believe me the overall experience was very positive so I can’t complain and I would do it again.
TBB: So you’re 25, you’re both very young, what are your future goals?
SB: Future goals are enormous! We have our own clothing line…
CB: …which is called Shock and Awww…
SB: Shock and Awww, yes because I’m the edgy one, she’s the more feminine one, and we hope to broaden that, make it more mass market. We’d like to have a fashion show to start…and then of course world domination!
CB: We’ve started in the realm of making clothes for celebrities like Katy Perry and Little Mix and I think we’re looking to make things available to the general public because while people may like to see what Katy Perry’s wearing, they may not want to wear it on a daily basis.
TBB: Are you wearing looks that you designed?
CB: I am.
SB: She is today, unfortunately I am not, I was a bit more practical, but Claire is wearing our skirt today.