My sister My sidekick: Remi and Whitney

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I’m so excited to feature two creative and fun loving sisters today, Whitney and Remi. Whitney is the designer behind Sonnet James, playful dresses for playful moms. And Remi is the photographer for the brand. They even have their sister in law, Jen, involved as model and head of customer service (talk about keeping it all in the family). Whitney and Remi grew up in Arizona and have had adventures that have taken them all over the globe.

Keep reading to hear about who was the “mean” sister growing up and how they get along now…

Photography by Ashley Thalman. Produced by Ashley Aikele. Stay tuned for a Sonnet James giveaway on my Instagram this week!

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Whitney studied in Europe, lived in Hawaii and has explored every ridge of the Rockies. She rides motorcycles, loves to play the guitar and is on a life-long journey to find the world’s best chocolate chip cookie. She currently lives in Palo Alto, CA where she runs her fashion company Sonnet James and is having a blast raising her two adorable little boys, Satchel and Eero.
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Remi is a photographer, certified yoga instructor, artist, designer, and avid DIY-er. She lives in New Mexico and is currently creating a micro-farm on her one-acre property with her sweet husband and two rambunctious little boys, Smith and Captain.


Remi, what kinds of things did you like doing together when you were growing up?
We LOVED watching Mary-Kate and Ashley movies.  Everyone thought Whitney looked like them and I was super jealous.  We also were in a singing group together most of our childhood so we’ve always sung together. The older we got the more fun it was to harmonize to songs Whitney wrote and play the guitar together.

We spent most of our summer’s roller-skating to Amy Grant on the hot driveway in Arizona, then we would jump in our pool. Repeat that for 6 years and that was our childhood. We were carefree and dreamers during our early years.

Whitney, what kinds of things do you like doing together now?
Mostly, we love seeing our kids play and adore each other. We also like to watch viral videos and hallmark movies and reenact SNL skits. We’re super weird.

Remi, were you close growing up? Are you closer now or then?
We had a lot of the same friends when we were little but I don’t remember actually playing much together.  We fought a lot.  I was brutal in my teenage years [and college years!] and then spent the next few years trying to make up for it. We’ve both grown up a lot the past few years and I love hanging out with her and talking to her on the phone.  She’s my best friend.  There’s something we just really get about each other after having children.

Whitney, what is one of your favorite childhood memories together?
We spent most of our summer’s roller-skating to Amy Grant on our hot driveway in Arizona, and then we would jump in our pool at the end of the day. We had a few sweet years doing this and being dreamers and so carefree. Always dreaming.
 Remi, what did you and Whitney fight about growing up?
Clothes!  Oh, the clothes.  Believe it or not, she actually borrowed MY clothes back in the day! [No, I didn’t!]  I’m super surprised that she doesn’t try borrowing my clothes anymore.  Apparently she’d rather wear beautiful play dresses she’s designed than my sweatpants.
What’s something that used to drive you crazy about your sister when you were growing up?
Actually, it was how comfortable she seemed in her own skin.  She has always been brave, paid attention to what she wants and what she likes, and spent more time being herself than wondering what other people will think.  I really wanted that and tried to bring her down so I didn’t feel so lost.  It was terrible of me!  But she’s always been so…  Always.  It drove me crazy.
Whitney: How mean she was! Ha! Love ya, Rem! 😉

Whitney, describe Remi in three words.

Remi, describe Whitney in three words.

Whitney, what’s a quality or skill Remi has that you really admire?
She’s so patient with her children it’s incredible.
Remi, what’s a quality or skill Whitney has that you really admire?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.  She’s cool.  She knows what she wants and who she is and she lives it.  It’s really incredible.
What is your favorite piece of clothing that your sister owns that you might steal if you get the chance?
She just got some rad Nobody denim jeans that I keep meaning to try on/wear all day but I keep forgetting!  Also her accessories.  Necklaces.  I just don’t think much about accessories but I love them so when I’m at her house I play dress up.
Whitney: Her hat collection, hands down.

How would you describe your sisters style?
Remi: Whitney’s style is classic with just enough flare that it keeps it current.
Whitney: Remi’s very indie to me. Like someone who lives in New York but grew up in LA going to Cochella every summer, you know what I mean? She’s got a lot of dark colors going on lately. A lot of skinny jeans and flat shoes and flop hats. And she knows what shapes and colors work for her skin tones and body. She’s good at that.


Whitney, how did Sonnet James come about and when did you decide to work together?
I started Sonnet James in 2013, armed with nothing more than a sewing machine and a few books about pattern making. I stayed up every night until 2am after the boys were in bed, pattern drafting, sewing on the kitchen table and writing to fashion bloggers, begging them to look at my dresses. I used my sister as the photographer, my sister-in-law as my model in my kitchen, built my website on a Thursday night and launched the next morning. Design Mom said she loved the concept and posted about it Monday morning and I had 150 orders in just a few days. It has been a whirlwind ever since!

Remi was the obvious choice. She’s super talented and has been taking pics of me and the boys since Eero was born so we were already super comfortable. And we have the same vision and artistic style.

Remi, what’s it like working with your sister?
So fun!  I really love it.  She’ll probably say that she’s a pain, but she’s really so much fun and I’ve always loved that I can be real with her and she can be real with me. It makes it easier for us to get the right energy for her photos.
What is something your sister has taught you?
Remi: Her first year in college she was younger than most other freshman and lived in the dorms.  She decided to do a social experiment wherein she dressed like Blossom (remember Blossom?  Socks with sandals, rimmed hats with one big fake sunflower flopping all over the place?) and didn’t take one normal article of clothing.   She wanted to make friends based on how cool she already was, not on how cool she looked. I remember that she actually had a pair of socks that had a lamb on them with ears that would flop up and down when she’d step.  HA!  It was awesome.  I’m not sure how all the steps of the scientific method played out on this particular experiment, but it didn’t matter, really. She just jumped in without really realizing that halfway through the semester she’d be begging my mom to ship her clothes to her dorm. Success is relative and she knows that.  Every little step she takes in her journey she’s grateful for and learns from.  She’s taught me so much about what real success is.
Whitney: Remi has taught me that with every mean thing that someone does to you there is pain behind it and usually a really sad story so to never judge and to love unconditionally and be understanding. But have boundaries, always boundaries! 


Great article! It’s awesome how she wanted to start a dress business, and made it happen!! Way to go girls!

Its funny to read about stories with sisters that did not get along perfectly as kids but have grown into best friends. I only hope that my relationship with my sister will grow into that.
Thanks for sharing!

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