Grand Ledge sisters use ‘twinstinct’ to win VH1 reality show

Feb 15, 2016

Winning is a good thing, but “twinning” is twice as nice- literally. The VH1 show “Twinning” is a reality competition show where sets of twins compete against other twins for a grand prize. We talks with the winners of the show’s first season, fashion designers Claire and Shawn Buitendorp of Grand Ledge.


It’s long been theorized that twins have a special connection to each other. Years of scientific experiments have explored just how much sharing identical DNA shapes the lives of identical twins.

Last summer, VH1 set out to explore that theory of “twintuition” through their reality competition show, “Twinning.” The winners of the show were Grand Ledge natives Shawn and Claire Buitendorp.

“We were one of 12 sets of twins split up to live in separate houses for the show,” says Shawn, one half of the “twinning” combination. “We each lived with 11 of the other ‘halves’ of twins.”

The sisters had to prove their “twintuition” by winning physical and mental challenges without being able to interact with each other.

“The hardest challenge was when we had to complete an obstacle course, and when we fell off the course our twin was tased,” says Claire. “You had to do it with a jug of water, so you’re slipping off. We got tased like twenty times.”

The idea that she was inflicting physical pain on someone she loves so much was emotionally taxing, says Shawn. But that sort of mental fortitude proved to be worth it for the Buitendorp sisters. 

Their grand prize for winning the competition? $222,222.22.

The sisters say most of the prize money will go towards their fashion label Shock & Awww.

“We named the business that because people like to label us as such,” says Shawn. “I have a shaved head, so people like to say I’m the edgy twin. Claire has long, luscious locks. I’m Shock…she’s Awww.”

The twins started their fashion careers dressing singers and celebrities in stage wear. One of their very first clients was Katy Perry. Now, the twins say they are now ready to create clothing the average consumer can purchase.

Shawn says that winning the show gave her and Claire a chance to show people that anything is possible.

“You can come from a small town like Grand Ledge with 7,000 people. But with determination you can move far beyond it – to whatever successes you desire.”

Article by Ethan Merrill, Current State Intern