Awed By Twinning’s Shawn and Claire

Claire and Shawn Buitendorp at NYFW. Claire is wearing a skirt of their own design from their line Shock and Awww.

Claire and Shawn Buitendorp at NYFW. Claire is wearing a skirt of their own design from their line Shock and Awww.

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.

September Raves

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

It’s fall ya’ll, and as much I try to protest the end of every summer, I always surprise myself with how much I really do enjoy this season. There are some wonderful smells, foods, events, and fashions that just don’t feel right any other time of year. On that note, here’s what I’m raving about this month.

Harry & David Pumpkin Macaroon Candle

Harry & David Pumpkin Macaroon Candle

Nothing is more fragrantly fall than anything pumpkin. It’s mandatory to burn pumpkin scented candles in my home each night from mid September to Thanksgiving. This year my pick is this pumpkin macaroon (yes macaroon, not macaron) scented candle from Harry & David. Even better was the price. I picked it up from Home Goods for $5.99. It has kept my home smelling perfectly pumpkin. I may have to go pick up a second one, just because.

Rare find on Facebook!

Rare find on Facebook!

Speaking of Home Goods I’d like to give a special shout out to them and Pier 1 Imports. I recently moved and both stores have been my go to for decorating my new space, without overdoing on decor and dollars. If there’s anything I’m raving about this month it’s minimalism. I’ve always been a minimalist, but moving gave me the best excuse to purge. I got rid of so much stuff that I didn’t use via Goodwill and Facebook sale groups. I’m totally raving about Facebook sale pages. Not only was I able to get money for and recycle things I no longer needed, but I also found some great furniture that I did need. I picked up a fabulous sleigh bed for my son and an amazing (possibly one of a kind) entry table with mirror set. Check out your local Facebook buy/sell/barter pages. You never know what you might earn…or find!

Eve's Tree hoodies clockwise from top: The Sophie in Evergreen, The Ashley in Sienna, The Lisa Golden

Evy’s Tree hoodies clockwise from top:
The Sophie in Evergreen, The Ashley in Sienna, The Lisa Golden

Finding things is awesome and my favorite recent find is a small company (that’s growing larger by the minute) called Evy’sTree ( I purged I made a vow to never again buy ANYTHING unless I absolutely NEEDED or LOVED it. I just can’t take having unnecessary stuff (or spending) in my life. Well, I may not need everything from Evy’s Tree (though I have convinced myself that I do), but I LOVE everything they make, and when I love something (as evidenced by the throw blanket on my couch that I bought in college) I’ll hold onto it forever, getting more than my money’s worth. I found Evy’s Tree on Instagram while I was doing work for a social media client. They make fashionably addictive and comfortable hoodies with feminine touches like ruffles and patterned lining. I purchased one and commented about it on Twitter. After that they asked me to test run two of their products. Brilliant of them, because I’ve bought two more since. They release new hoodies each month and offer them at pre-sale prices. I can’t wait for my next two to get here. I finally can feel like I’m wearing sweats all the time, but look polished and pulled together. Prices range from $79(intro) to $119 (full). Follow them on Instagram @evystreeofficialTwitter @EvysTree and find them on Facebook. Tell them I sent you, and then thank me when you are luxuriating in the highest quality, most comfortable hoodie you’ve ever owned.

Dare Maple Leaf Creme Cookies

Dare Maple Creme Cookies

Fall flavors are fantastic. Say that one ten times fast. Costco makes a pumpkin muffin to die for. It’s one of my weekend cheats, as you all know I eat clean Monday-Friday (I need to write about that again as it’s really working, people keep asking me how I’ve gotten so slim). Another fall treat in my home are Maple Creme Cookies by Dare cookie company. I dare you to try these and not get addicted. I first had these maple leaf shaped treats on a trip to Vermont many years ago. They are extremely popular there. They look beautiful in a glass cookie jar. Tasty, and fall functional.

The Skinnygirls await my housewarming party.

The Skinnygirls await my housewarming party.

For those of us that can’t let summer go, you can enjoy the perfectly peach taste of summer year round with White Peach Margarita from Skinnygirl Cocktails. My awesome friends over at SG sent me some samples of their line to taste test on a few friends (a Skinnygirl “sponsored” housewarming party is in the works). I held a small unpacking party and this flavor went very quickly. It’s got just the right amount of sweet, which I think compliments any dessert, no matter the season!

So those are my current obsessions. Let me know what you think of them and tell me, what are YOU obsessed with? If there’s something you think I need to try for my next Rave Page give it a shout out in the comments!

Regards and hugs,


Sonja in the City…Of Fashion

Sonja poses for photographers with one of her models.

Sonja poses for photographers with one of her models.

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

It’s September and TBB is back after taking a much needed summer hiatus. What better way to make our fall debut than with a trip to the city for New York Fashion Week (NYFW)? Why, a trip for a Housewife headed fashion show of course! Sonja Morgan of The Real Housewives of New York City hosted her second turn on the catwalk as a designer, the first round we witnessed on the recently wrapped season of RHONY. For a few minutes, however, I want you to forget about the Housewife and focus on the designer, because this really is the real deal. It’s Sonja version 2.0, and it just may be the version that we will know long after RHONY has ridden off into the sunset on a camel (Ya habibi).

Sonja’s biggest challenge in riding this wave into the future will be to get people to do just that. At first I had my doubts about the show even happening. I had traveled from work (about 13 miles) to The New Yorker hotel in an hour and a half of traffic. The invite said 4pm “sharp” so when I was a half mile away in a traffic jam at 3:55 I decided to just park in the lot to my left and run it in pony hair leopard print J.Crew heels (the same ones I wore last fall on the Meredith Vieira Show ). I made it to the door at 4:03, worried I wouldn’t be let in. One of the models was walking in next to me. At this point I realized that this show would be running on Sonja Time, not real time, and that I probably could have parked much closer.

A sheer one piece swimsuit with lingerie seaming.

A sheer one piece swimsuit with lingerie seaming.

Inside, the seats bore signs emblazoned with some pretty interesting names in the fashion, television, and music industries…none of them Housewives related. The only recognizable face I saw, however, was former (and perpetual) Bachelor Lorenzo Borghese. I said my hellos (we have a mutual friend who introduced us a few years ago) and met a photographer, a canine couture designer, and three young women who work in public relations. The conversation flowed…but the show didn’t. By the time it was a half hour past the original start Borghese had to bolt. People started to leave, getting impatient and wondering if the show would go on. I spotted Sonja nervously peering out through the curtains in the balcony above the waning crowd. My three new young friends and I wondered exactly what the hold up was. Finally, an hour delayed, the music started, the first model graced the runway, and, thankfully, more seats had filled.

A nautical white short suit with tuxedo detailing.

A nautical white short suit with tuxedo detailing.

I LOVED the first look, a nautical feeling short suit with a pin striped crop top. Not sure if at almost 40 I could pull it off, but I definitely could see myself in the white satin trimmed tuxedo shorts. The second, a tuxedo inspired slouch pant with matching jacket and lattice backed swimsuit, was also a winner. This was the same suit that Sonja, herself, was donning for the event. Other favorites of mine were a sheer bodied one piece swimsuit, and black evening gown with satin detail. All these neutral pieces spoke to my basic and classic New York inspired tastes. For those of you who love color there was also a red evening gown, hot pink bikini, and the infamous gold lame dress Sonja wore on the latest Housewives Reunion special (this was the final look in the collection). You can see them all in the video below.

A tuxedo inspired slouch pantsuit with satin details.

A tuxedo inspired slouch pantsuit with satin details.

Sonja joined all her models on the runway for the final look. She looked less Real Housewife and more Real Designer to me, and with what truly is a viable collection, I think she has found her calling. I just hope the rest of the world gives her the chance to prove herself. After the show I gave Sonja a kiss on the cheek and my sincerest congratulations. Then after a quick trip to the loo I was off again running in those heels, this time through the rain, with an overpriced anorexic sized dinner from Starbucks in one hand and no umbrella in the other. As the rain poured down on me, and I called a driver an asshole, I thought about my crazy day running from here to there. I paid the parking attendant a whopping $60 and smiled at the crazy that is New York. Being back in the city I love doing what I do best I couldn’t help but feel sheer gratitude.

Sonja had invited me to stay behind for a drink after the show, but after 10 minutes I had left. I hope you aren’t offended Sonja, but I have to live on Tara time…when everything happens on the “sharp”. XOXO