Life & Culture

Twin souls: How two stylish Londoners clicked to success on Instagram

Fashion brand Twinset has thousands of followers


Stylists Sarah Ellis and Philippa Ross never thought quitting their jobs to focus on their fashion and lifestyle blog would lead to the launch of their own collection.

They initially set up the We Are Twinset blog to share their similar style with followers. They would write about the “must-have” beauty products and top trends and offer tips on how to combine high-street outfits with high-end pieces.

They edited content at home, used white walls for photo backdrops and spent weekends asking their partners to take their pictures.

Ellis, a former stylist on ITV’s Lorraine show and Ross, who styled shoots for The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, contacted colleagues and press representatives for clothes they could wear and photograph for the blog.

But as their following (and families) grew, around five years ago, they decided to leave their jobs to fully commit to We Are Twinset.

“I remember feeling really nervous at first,” says Ross, 34-year-old mum to Alfie, five, and Ava, two. “I was so used to getting a monthly salary and then, suddenly I was working for myself. It was all about trusting the journey and the timing.”

“When we first started Twinset, we never knew where it would take us,” says Ellis, 37, a mum to three-year-old Lenny and Edie, seven months. “At the start, we would beg for clothes from brands, and we were never afraid to ask for help. We had a lot of ‘no’s’ and were promised meetings that never happened, but we just got on with it.”

Their perseverance paid off.

Top brands started to approach the duo to promote their products in paid partnership deals. With more than 260,000 Instagram followers, We Are Twinset have now collaborated with leading fashion and cosmetic groups including: Net-A-Porter, H&M, Dior beauty, Harvey Nichols and Pureology.

But with the outbreak of the pandemic, they were forced to work remotely. Spotting the surge in people wearing loungewear, the duo decided to launch their own collection. Last March, they launched WAT The Brand, self-funded from their blogging business.

“That was a big moment for us,” says Ross. “There is a right time for everything, and we just knew that if we did not do it over lockdown, we were never going to do it.

“We wanted to design a collection of loungewear that we could feel nice in, with quality fabric and a good length. We also wanted a range of separates that all work well together.”

Their simple white t-shirts are designed with structured shoulders and printed with inspirational words, like “capable”, “beautiful” and “unstoppable”. Their sweatshirt and jogger range has twists like balloon sleeves, gold zips or ribbed cuffs. And the brand’s satin pyjamas are designed to be worn at night — with a pair of designer heels.

Their look — championed by other influencers — struck a chord. Within hours of the online launch, they hit their three-month sales target. They celebrated that moment with their brand’s co-founder Nicky Green, who focuses on the merchandising and supplier side of the business.

“When we first started the brand, we were naïve about how quickly it was going to grow,” says Ellis. “We can’t believe it’s already been a year.”

With the brand expanding into men’s and childrenswear, they now juggle two businesses in an already busy week.

They work as efficiently as they can, dedicating one weekday to We Are Twinset, another to the brand and a third day combining the two. They squeeze in the rest whenever they can, including when their children take a nap.

“We are both very methodical and have to work in a streamlined way,” says Ross. “It’s the only way it works with having routines and young kids.”

Ross says people underestimate how much work goes into what they do. “A lot of people think it looks so glamorous and easy, they think that they can make money from their bedroom without having to graft.

@We grafted as interns doing the jobs that no one else wanted and we are not scared of working hard now.”

Ellis agrees, adding: “We take thousands of photos to get ‘the one’.

“We have to work with a creative brief, book a photographer, find a location, make sure the weather is okay and check that the clothes are all steamed and ready to go.

“It is not a case of having your photo taken, and then going off to have a coffee for the rest of the day.”

In fact, they do their own hair and make-up for most shoots, not least because it’s quicker.

“Getting out of the door every morning is like a military operation,” says Ellis.

“With school drop-offs and everything else, we don’t have three hours to spare for hair and make-up.”

As business partners and friends, they have always worked well as a team.

They first met at a press event 13 years ago, through their bosses.

Despite both being north-west London Jewish women, working in fashion, with mutual friends, it was the first time they had met. They clicked immediately, noting that they were wearing similar biker boots, gilets and leggings on that day.

They later met at Pizza Express in Mill Hill and as Ross recalls: “I remember going home and telling my mum, ‘I have met my soul sister.’ We had both worked in the same place, our dads have the same names, and our grandparents were friends. There were so many similarities, it was weird.”

“Meeting each other was a defining point for us,” says Ellis. “We have a shared passion, and it is difficult to find someone with the same motivation and drive as you.”

She adds: “When one of us is struggling, the other will take over. People ask us if we ever fight or disagree and the answer is, ‘no’.

“We always end up making a decision that we are both comfortable with.”

“You have to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Ross.

“It’s a team effort and we are on the same page visually.”

Their business focus is clear, but as a big part of their content is generated through social media, so are their personal lives.

On Instagram they share their top dining spots, the parties they attend and where they holiday.

As part of that, they often wish their followers a Chag Sameach or encourage them to support communal charities — not shying away from their Jewish roots.

“We are very proud of who we are and that comes with being Jewish as well,” says Ellis.

“We do wish people a happy new year on Rosh Hashanah or share videos of us lighting the Chanukah candles with our kids.”

I wonder whether they worry about how much of their personal life is made public.

“I do have waves of feeling like that,” says Ross.

“It’s almost our job to profile where we are going, what we are wearing and where we went on holiday.”

“It’s part of the territory,” adds Ellis. “People want to know what’s in your kitchen, as well as what bra you’re wearing.”

She adds: “It is outweighed by our positive following.

“We get such lovely messages from people, and it feels good to know that we are empowering women.”

So, do they have any advice for those wanting to start their own business? “There is room out there for everyone,” says Ellis.

“Whether it is interiors or fashion, as long as you have passion, a truly authentic voice and put in the hard work, there is space for you.”

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