Did you know that my amazing craft assistant Sara, is an identical twin? I’m really excited to feature her and her twin sister, Melissa, for this month’s My sister, My sidekick. Sara and Melissa grew up Georgia peaches and Indiana Hoosiers, bouncing back and forth between the two states. They both attended Indiana University and both studied broadcast journalism. They now live in San Francisco and a little ski town called Crested Butte, Colorado but stay connected through their lovely blog, Alice and Lois. They’re so close and super similar, they even describe each other almost exactly the same. It’s incredible! Almost all their family vacations are taken together and their kids are best friends, even though they live far apart.
Keep reading for much more, times they’ve switched identities and what it’s like for your best friend to be your identical twin…
Photography by Alex Fenlon. Produced by Ashley Aikele.
This is Melissa. She lives in Crested Butte Colorado, a small beautiful mountain town. She helped start the local newpaper back in 2000. She now serves as the publisher and loves what she does. Melissa and her husband Alex have two daughters, Calla (5) and Poppy (15 months). They enjoy being outside and riding their bikes around all 8 square blocks of their small town. They enjoy being outside as much as possible!
You’ve met Sara before but in case you’ve forgotten here is a brief intro: Sara is my assistant here at Say Yes. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Ty and darling first grader named Harper. Sara worked at Gap inc. for 16 years which has given her a great sense of business experience. She also is a master crafter, seamstress, and much more of a perfectionist (which I really value here at Say Yes).
Melissa, what kinds of things do you like doing together?
Since we live in different places, we love to vacation together with our families. And does talking on the phone to each other five times a day count? But truly, anytime we get to be together is worth it – from the mundane to the adventurous. I feel whole when I’m with Sara, like my whole being is complete. That may sound corny, but it’s true. A bit of my heart and soul is quiet when I’m not with her.
Sara, what kinds of things did you like doing together when you were growing up?
Everything. From making up songs and dances, to playing soccer, to annoying our brothers, to putting on musical productions in the basement, to hanging with friends, to going on family adventures, to rearranging and redecorating our bedroom.
Melissa, were you close growing up? Are you closer now or then?
We’re lucky that we’ve always been close since the day we were born. She’s been my best friend my entire life and we’ve always lived our lives as a team. But it has been really amazing though to grow closer as moms. We truly have a bond that cannot be broken. Our experiences as mothers have made us that much closer. Both of us experienced life-threatening complications while delivering our daughters. We know firsthand the emotional and physical pain that each other endured. But our experiences have only made us closer and more grateful for our families and our lives.
Sara, what is one of your favorite childhood memories together?
Melissa and I were in a children’s play at church (Daniel and the Lion’s Den). We were cast to share the role as the Lion. There was a cave on stage that one of us was always in. The audience was clued into the twin role at the very end of the play when we came out of the cave together to take a bow in our matching lion costumes our mom had made. I remember being nervous about being on stage, but the nerves went away when we’d be in the lion’s den together, anxiously waiting for our cue for our next lines.
Melissa, what did you and Sara fight about growing up?
Luckily, not much. The funny thing is, we both remember one specific time that we got into a huge fight over lost babysitting money. I remember it as though I was the one irate with her that she did something with my huge wad of cash. And she remembers it the exact opposite – that she was the one who misplaced her money and blamed me. I guess we need to call our mom to find out what really happened.
Sara, what’s one thing that used to drive you crazy about Melissa when you were growing up?
We shared a bedroom growing up. Melissa was always positioning her bed to be furthest from the light switch – so at night she did not have to be the one to get out of bed to turn the light off. Smart.
Melissa, what’s one thing that used to drive you crazy about Sara when you were growing up?
She always wanted me to turn off the lights before bed.
Sara, describe Melissa in three words. Strong, Loving, Resilient (we did not look at what each other said on this)
Melissa, describe Sara in three words. Loving, Generous, Resilient
Sara, what’s a quality or skill Melissa has that you really admire?
Dedication and loyality. Melissa exemplifies what being loyal is all about. She holds her family and close friends in high esteem. She fights for what is right and true. I am blessed to have her as my advocate and biggest fan. She has an innate ability to cheer for you when you need it most and gives advice just when you need it. She is my rock.
Melissa, what’s a quality or skill Sara has that you really admire?
Sara has the biggest heart. She has the ability to make anyone she meets feel like an old friend. It doesn’t matter how old or young this person is, she puts them at ease and before you know it, they are smiling as big as Sara is. She’s got that smile and spark in her eyes that makes the world a better place to be. And she has the innate ability to bring the best out of people.
Sara, what is your favorite piece of clothing that Melissa owns that you might steal if you get the chance?
Her super warm long down jacket – I only need to steal it when I am visiting her in the tundra of Crested Butte.
Melissa, what is your favorite piece of clothing that Sara owns that you might steal if you get the chance?
Her bootie collection.
Melissa, tell us one way that you two are a lot a like and one thing that is totally different about you two?
We are so similar it’s hard to come up with ways that we are different. I know, it sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Something very different about us is where we ended up. Sara is in the heart of the city in San Francisco and I’m in Crested Butte, Colorado, a little ski town, population 1,500. Sara is a city girl who handles busy, crowded places with enthusiasm. Whereas I live in a small ski town and prefer wide, open spaces and a slower pace of life.
Another difference is that Sara is much more of a project manager than I am. I wish I could embrace that style of management. She sets goals and works efficiently and effectively attaining them. I am a journalist by trade and set deadlines for myself, which means I wait until the last minute to tackle and perfect my projects.
Sara, have you ever switched your identities to play a trick on someone?
Of course! Where do we start? Melissa once accepted an invitation to a homecoming dance on behalf of me! But one of our favorite times was when I had knee surgery in middle school and my scar wasn’t healing correctly. So Melissa went in to the appointment to fool the doctor. It worked… you should have seen the look on his face when I popped out behind the door, scar and all.
Melissa, how do people tell you apart? How did people tell you apart when you were younger?
When we were little, we were truly identical. We look back at old photos of ourselves and cannot tell who is who. That’s kind of a wild feeling to have, not knowing which one you are. As kids the only way people could tell us apart was by my dimple and Sara’s little scar by her eye. Today we look less identical, even though when we’re together people stop us on the street to exclaim, “Oh my gosh, you’re twins!” I think living apart for 18 years and in such different environments has changed our appearance some.
Sara, did your parents dress you alike when you were younger?
Yes we dressed in matching clothes! Plaid shirt with stand up ruffle collar. Button down with ruffles (think hip Little House on the Prairie), cords and a gold sea shell charm necklace. We both wore this outfit for our first or second grade school photos.
Melissa, when was the first time you were separated?
In preschool, we were in two different classes right next to each other. Our parents decided to do that to prep us for kindergarten where the school district would separate us.
As a twin have you ever struggled with feeling like you don’t have your own identity?
There was a phase in middle school where we grew frustrated just being known as “The Twins.” It would drive us crazy that at our birthday and Christmas everyone would buy us identical gifts. Didn’t they know we might want different things? After all, we were two different people. But soon enough, we realized that what we have is the most amazing bond. We realized that it’s the greatest gift that we have each other. We learned how to celebrate our likeness, our similarity and that it was in fact, pretty amazing to have a built-in best friend since birth.
Any advice for moms raising twins?
Nurture their differences as much as their similarities. Celebrate their bond. But don’t pit them against each other, or fall prey to comparing them. We benefited from a childhood that was full of love, not comparison.
You have a blog together! How did that come about? How has it helped you stay connected as sisters?
We have always enjoyed working together on projects – from designing our shared bedroom, to cousin-produced musicals. While raising our young daughters we decided to launch an Etsy shop, Alice & Lois designs in 2011. This was a perfect first step in starting a creative business together. We named our business for our grandmothers, Alice and Lois. We launched the Alice & Lois blog in July 2013. We love working on our site together. We both have journalism and photography backgrounds and desire to create something new everyday. So the blog is a perfect fit for us. We are really proud of the blog! It is so fulfilling to have a business with your sister. We luckily work and communicate very effectively together!
What made you decide to start a lifestyle blog together and what it’s like to work with each other?
We always knew we wanted to work together professionally some day. The time came to start sharing our creativity and inspiration with a community online. Everyday we were sharing with each other projects we were creating at home, our favorite new shoes and motivating stories. So starting a lifestyle and DIY blog made perfect sense for us. It was a logical way for us to create a business together even though we lived so far apart.
It’s been so rewarding to run this blog together. It gives us the opportunity to run our own business while utilizing our skill sets. We both have journalism and photography backgrounds and the desire to live creative lives – so it’s the perfect fit. We work so well together, it’s pretty seamless actually. It’s so fulfilling to have a business with your sister. There’s never any issues with communication or work ethic.
Thank you so much Melissa and Sara for letting us take a peek into your special twin sister relationship! Be sure to follow along with them on their own site, Alice and Lois.