Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the spotlight since they were adorable babies on Full House, meaning they’ve spent almost their entire lives in the public eye. Despite this, though, they’ve proved themselves remarkably level-headed, especially for child stars, and have gone on to cement a business empire that means they never have to work again if they don’t fancy it.
No surprise, then, that they’re unlikely to turn up on Fuller House. But in case they ever do drop out of the limelight altogether any time soon, you’ve got this handy guide to how much the twins have changed over the years. You’re welcome.
Image: ABC via Hollywood Life
Back in the day – well, the late ’80s – no one knew who Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen might grow up to be. Only one thing was for sure at that point: they made for quite the adorable baby when taking turns playing Michelle Tanner in much-loved ABC sitcom Full House.
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Michelle, though, proved to be a breakout character, and as she grew up on screen she launched the twins into stardom. By the early ’90s, the two of them were celebrities in their own right – and massive ones at that.
As they became two of America’s favorite child stars, then, Mary-Kate and Ashley were growing accustomed to life in the spotlight. And it wouldn’t be long until they capitalized on that popularity, either.
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That’s because, when they weren’t even teens themselves, the twins set about conquering the tween market. In the late ’90s, their names and faces were on everything from CDs to clothes to posters to cassette tapes – remember them?
What’s more, at just 12 years of age the twins even launched their own fashion range at Walmart. “And we were really designing it,” Mary-Kate told Vogue in 2011. “It would be jeans, a bit bohemian, or with a little blazer.” It was an avenue they’d return to later in life.
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Of course, being twins, and very similar-looking ones at that, they had to do the matching outfit thing at least once – like at the British launch of their clothing line in 2002. Believe it or not, though, despite them looking so incredibly alike, the pair aren’t actually identical twins, but fraternal ones.
Mary-Kate and Ashley continued to act together throughout the early ’00s, appearing in direct-to-video movies and showing up in popular sitcoms in which they didn’t share a role. And if they were unhappy with their lives in the spotlight, they didn’t let on – at least, not yet.
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Their last movie together, and Ashley’s last film as an actor, was teen comedy New York Minute in 2004. Then they both turned 18 years old and took control of the vast riches that they’d amassed.
And their success could have ended there, had the Olsen twins not spent their time in the spotlight quietly gaining a very intricate knowledge of fashion and how the fashion world worked.
In fact, they essentially gained their fashion education from the dressing rooms of the TV shows in which they appeared. “There would be five or six racks of clothes [in the rooms],” Mary-Kate explained to Vogue, “and they cut them down to fit us – even Chanel.”
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All this stood Mary-Kate and Ashley in good stead when it came for them to launch their own couture label The Row in 2006, before they were even out of their teens. Just under a decade later, then, and they’ve since founded sister labels Olsenboye – an affordable range for JCPenney – and Elizabeth and James, which is named for their younger sister and big brother.
Not that they ever need work again, mind. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s company Dualstar – set up when the twins were too young to manage their business interests – once had a turnover of over $1 billion due to the sheer amount of Olsen twins merchandise being created.
And although that company is now in dormancy, the Olsens have held onto that cash and dealt with it wisely throughout their adult lives. They’re both multi-millionaires, of course, and have appeared on Forbes “Celebrity 100” list of the world’s best-paid entertainers every year since 2002.
They’ve also won awards for their fashion work – joint awards, in fact, for Accessory Designer of the Year in 2014 and Top Womenswear Designers in 2015, both presented to them by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
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Mary-Kate, in particular, has become quite the style maven. In 2005, in fact, she was labeled a fashion icon by no less august a publication than The New York Times for her dressed-down, bohemian looks.
And both twins favor a dramatic monochrome look when it comes to dressing. Though they no longer turn up in identical outfits like they did when they were younger, perhaps this similar style is a deliberate choice to remind the world that they’re a unit.
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But even though Mary-Kate and Ashley seemingly made the transition to adulthood with ease, they’ve since revealed that their upbringing in the spotlight was far from idyllic. In their 2011 interview with Vogue, for example, Ashley explained how the young stars were constantly hounded by the press in Los Angeles.
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Mary-Kate, meanwhile, told Marie Claire in 2010 that she felt like she had been a “little monkey performer” back then. Mary-Kate’s road from child stardom was even harder than her sister’s, as she suffered from anorexia during her teenage years.
Every obstacle thrown at the twins during their formative years has, however, seemingly been overcome with ease. Perhaps that’s why they’re not keen to revisit their acting days in a hurry.
That’s because when the sequel to Full House, craftily named Fuller House, debuts on Netflix in 2016, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that either Mary-Kate or Ashley will make an appearance in it. And given their considerable success since they tipped up on screen as babies nearly three decades ago, no one could blame them for it, really.