They are to tweens what Martha Stewart is to American homemakers: arbiters of all that is right and good and stylish. But Mary-Kate (far right) and Ashley Olsen, 15-year-old twins from San Fernando Valley, are also budding tycoons, blithely ensconced atop a cross-platform fashion-and-entertainment empire. Having infiltrated every medium known to girls aged 6 to 14, the Mary-Kate-and-Ashley brand is poised to generate $ 1 billion in revenue in 2002. The twins'clothing-and-accessories line, purveyed exclusively through Wal-Mart, is on pace to eclipse Kmart's Martha colossus. Their new television series, So Little Time, is one of four Olsen offerings currently on the air, including a Saturday-morning cartoon, recycled episodes of Two of a Kind, and reruns of the irresistibly hokey Full House, on which the then nine-month-old twins cut their acting-and actual-teeth. They have sold 24 million videos, host a heavily trafficked Web site, and play protagonists in best-selling books and video games. Then there's the freshly inked deal with AOL, the feature film in development, the in-the-works recording contract-and the obligatorily eponymous magazine. All that-and only two hours of homework a night. "Ashley's better in math and French," admits 10th grader Mary-Kate. Says Ashley, "Mary-Kate's a better writer." They both want to attend college. ("In New York," says Ashley. "Hopefully," says Mary-Kate.) First, though, they will celebrate their sweet-16th this summer. Recently emancipated from a $10 weekly allowance, the sisters plan to splurge on matching Range Rovers. Try as they may vamp it up for a Vanity Fair photo session, the pair can't help but buck the teenage-vixenette trend; their dolls natch, outsell those of Britney and Christina combined. For the savvy Olsens, wholesome beats fulsome every time.
Vanity Fair, January 2002, No 497