Now, Mary-Kate and Ashley are all grown up and have discovered a passion for fashion. In 2006, they launched a high-end clothing line called The Row, followed by a more contemporary line, Elizabeth and James. The twins are considered fashion icons and are highly respected by legendary designers for their bold personal styles. "We're like anyone else, but I think we work very hard every single day," Mary-Kate says. But with so much success at only 22 years old, the twins recognize that they aren't exactly like everyone else. "We had a head start," Ashley says.
Instead, Mary-Kate and Ashley interviewed 20 of their personal idols. "Instead of looking to us and how we've gotten to the place we are today, it's looking to those people that we look up to that have inspired not just us, but so many other people," Ashley says.
The book features interviews with famous fashion designers, artists and photographers, including Christian Louboutin, Lauren Hutton, Bob Colacello, Terry Richardson and Jack Pierson. "We'd run into them and just say, 'Oh yeah, by the way, we're doing a book. Do you mind sitting down with us?'" Mary-Kate says.
Although the twins are regularly asked for interviews, Ashley says she became shy when it came to turning the tables on their icons. "I felt very strange and awkward being on the other side," Ashley says.
The most nerve-racking interview she says was with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. "I was nervous because it was the day before his fashion show, and we're going into the House of Chanel and he's putting all of his looks together, and I felt like we were kind of in the way, " Ashley says. "But he was so welcoming."
"We've never really met him before, so it was an honor to be there, " Mary-Kate says.
The twins say they found Diane von Furstenberg especially inspiring. "She said a couple of things, but she said, 'You have to be your best friend first,' and I absolutely agree," Ashley says. "You have to feel comfortable with yourself before you go off and do anything in order to make the right choices for you."
Another remark that really resonated with them was when Diane told the girls they didn't need to have everything figured out just yet. "[She said] she didn't always know what she wanted to do, but she always knew the woman that she wanted to be," Mary-Kate says.
Even though the paparazzi make it difficult to have a private life, the twins aren't complaining. "I don't regret anything that we've done or any choices that we've made or the people around us have made for us," Ashley says.
The trendsetting twins let Oprah Show cameras follow them to work for a glimpse inside the fashion world. Mary-Kate and Ashley arrive at their Elizabeth and James showroom in New York City and start the day with a model fitting—a task the twins say they are very comfortable with. "We started cutting down adult clothing when we were 6 or 8 [years old] because we couldn't find really great kids' clothing, so we're very aware of the woman's body and what looks good," Mary-Kate says.
Later that afternoon, the twins attend a meeting to discuss shoe designs for an Elizabeth and James runway show. "Especially when you're starting companies, you really have to be there every day because you're being held accountable, so you need to be present," Ashley says. After shoes, it's on to jewelry with a meeting to approve their new spring line with designer Robert Lee Morris. "Ashley will show up a few days later and undo everything that Mary-Kate did," Robert jokes. The twins say they usually find a way to compromise—but if not, they scrap the idea. "If we can't agree, we don't do it," Mary-Kate says. "It goes away."
Time doesn't stop on the weekend in the fashion world—the girls drop by The Row showroom on Saturday for more model fittings. "It's definitely a high-end line, all European fabrics," Ashley says.
At the end of the day, Ashley says she doesn't think of her job as a business. "I really just wanted something for myself," she says. "It's a lot of work, but at the same time, I know how fulfilling it is to develop whatever we feel passionate about."
In the photos, 64-year-old supermodel Lauren Hutton models The Row's tailored jackets and trousers. Lauren has been a fixture on the fashion and film scene since the '60s and '70s. As a former Revlon spokeswoman and star of such films as American Gigolo and The Gambler, Lauren is the type of woman Mary-Kate and Ashley say they aspire to be.
"She's beautiful," Mary-Kate says. "She's older and she's beautiful, and that is sexy to us."
Ashley says she's also impressed by Lauren's inner beauty. "I think she's such a wise woman and a traveler," she says. "She's obviously a style icon."
Ashley and Mary-Kate head to the rooftop deck of the Soho Grand Hotel NYC to have a revealing, one-on-one conversation.
Watch the complete interview!
Mary-Kate: Let's keep this honest and straightforward. What's the quality you most like in a man?
Ashley: Probably loyalty. What's the quality you most like in a man?
Mary-Kate: Probably charm, but that only goes so far. What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Ashley: I think the ability to feel completely myself and at ease in front of large groups of people...or in front of cameras.
Mary-Kate: What would be one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
Ashley: That I'm really a homebody. I just like to be at home, in my environment with my friends. What is your motto?
Mary-Kate: I think I try and tell myself that everything happens for a reason. I really do believe it.
"You know, we're sisters. We're twins," Mary-Kate says. "We work together, and I think to live separately, it gives you your space."
When it comes to relationships, the sisters also respect each other's decisions and space. "I'm not in a relationship, so I just support her," Mary-Kate says. "If she doesn't like him, I won't like him. If she likes him, I'll like him."
Mary-Kate says she gives Ashley her two cents about boyfriends, but in the end, her sister's happiness takes precedence over her personal opinions. "Whatever makes her happy," she says. "It's her life."
"Ayaan likes to micromanage, and I like to divide the work so we can be more productive," Idyl says. "Do you guys ever have arguments like that?"
When they first became business partners, Mary-Kate says they had trouble communicating their ideas with one another. "We speak differently, in general," she says. "We'll be saying the same thing, and we think we're disagreeing with each other, so sometimes we'll be fighting about the same thing."
If you're working with a close family member, Ashley says compromising is key. "It's about giving up a little bit of the control as well so you guys can have a more balanced relationship."
At just 26 years old, Gurbaksh is living the American dream in a big way. When he was a 16-year-old high school sophomore, he discovered the potential of online advertising and created a company called Click Agents. Two years later, he sold the company for $40 million.
Then, in 2004, Gurbaksh launched BlueLithium, his second Internet enterprise. In 2007, Yahoo! bought the company for $300 million. "I think, at the end of the day, there's a path to do a thing, and it's not only one path," he says. "There's different ways to do it, and I'm fortunate that I was able to find that path very early on in life and take that risk."
Gurbaksh may drive a sports car and live in a penthouse, but he says his humble beginning made him the man he is today.
Gurbaksh says that like most kids, there were times when he desperately wanted to fit in but he realized he never really would. "I'm willing to accept that. And because of the fact it really matured me in a way where I used that negative noise as energy," Gurbaksh says. "And in a way, go ahead and find out what my true passion was, what my strengths were and really figure out life at an early age."
While some may think that much wealth would change a person, Gurbaksh says his family keeps him grounded. "At the end of the day, I have a very strict family," he says. " They never get tired of telling me if I'm getting out of hand."
Gurbaksh also says that money should not be your ultimate goal. "Any time you start something with the idea that money's everything, you're going to end up making decisions that are based on greed, based on short-term goals, and not eventually long-term happiness."
Balance is another key ingredient to a happy life, something Grubaksh says he didn't always have. "Life's short, so put yourself out there, have fun and do everything that makes you happy."
See how the employees at Zappos.com cut loose!
Not only did Tony pass up a big office, he also only takes home $36,000 a year! "I'm doing it because I want to be involved in creating something that people are passionate about," he says. "I'm not doing this for the money."
So why get in the customer service business? "It was really just from me being personally annoyed whenever I received bad customer service," Tony says. "It is really frustrating when I feel like the people on the other end [of the phone] don't really care."
When hiring new employees at Zappos, Tony says they do two sets of interviews. The first is with a hiring manager and their team. The second is with human resources for a "culture" fit. Tony says that no matter what job you're hired to do, all employees must undergo four weeks of customer service training. "You're actually on the phone for two weeks talking with customers. And people that can't make it through that we either don't hire or drop them during the training process."
Tony is so dedicated to customer service that his ultimate goal is to build his brand around it. "We're actually hoping 10 years from now people won't even realize we started out selling shoes online, and maybe 30 years from now we'll have a Zappos Airlines that's just about the very best customer service in the airline industry."
Another benefit to finding your passion is that employees as well as customers can sense your excitement. "That's how we've grown over the past nine and a half years is just through customers being very loyal...but not just loyal. ... They're actually spreading the word about Zappos," Tony says. "When they call us, they see that we're real people and that we actually are passionate about the customer service and want to help them out."