And yes, we really are identical twins, born four minutes apart in Detroit on December 2. For the record, that makes us Sagittarians with Capricorn rising. We also have our moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars all in Scorpio (whoosh). Uh, no wonder we’re so obsessed with writing about the mysteries of the cosmos!
We’re grateful every day for this bizarre and somewhat accidental career path. Being professional astrologers wasn’t exactly our childhood aspiration. Sure, there were signs: the sixth grade trip to Space Camp, the stack of Lois Duncan books about girls with ESP that lined our childhood bookshelves…and the slightly embarrassing collection of self-help ones that followed a few years later. We never forgot a birthday growing up and would always read our horoscopes and “Dear Abby” in the newspaper—made easier by the paper route we had for a few tween years. We both studied Fine Art and Journalism at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and hold degrees from there. #proudnerds
Our passion, however, has always stemmed from a deep desire to understand people and a love of creating empowering, inclusive media—particularly for women.
We were teens before the days of blogs and self-authored content. To get our style fix, we had subscriptions to the go-to magazines—the ones with the kissing tips, endless lip gloss strategies, and the size-zero models. Flipping through those pages was always a mixed bag since we weren’t superskinny, we don’t have button noses, and our primary focus in life wasn’t getting the guy to invite us to homecoming or prom. (In fact, we spent our teenage summers mowing lawns and raking leaves alongside our Sagittarius Israeli landscaper dad.) Those constant downloads of the narrow beauty standard affected our self-esteem growing up. We wanted to change that.
Sassy: Our first taste of media-making
When we were 18, we got our first taste of the media industry when Tali won a contest with the legendary Sassy magazine. Unlike its sister publications, Sassy had an in-your-face vibe, opinions and major edge. Their articles covered feminist issues, the models wore Doc Martens, vintage and DIY gear. Every year, Sassy held a Reader Produced Issue contest, where a few chosen subscribers were flown to New York City to replace/shadow the staff and put together the December issue. On a whim, Tali entered, won the Art Director role, and spent an entire, life-changing August working alongside media mavens Jane Pratt, Andrea Linnett, Christina Kelly and Kim France. Talk about a crash course!
While Sassy was a game-changing experience, we were hungry for even more diversity. As candid Sagittarians, we wanted to create a platform for underrepresented voices to be heard. We wanted people of all races, cultures, sexualities and sizes to see images of themselves as beautiful, valuable and powerful. We imagined a world where that could be the norm for kids and how differently they’d grow up with self-worth being pumped into their neural pathways from the jump. But that wasn’t happening back in the early 1990s. The fresh-faced Barbie doll look was de riguer on runways. The closet door on gender and LGBT issues was firmly shut and feminism was just beginning its third wave. But a handful of zines, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” were bringing those simmering issues of inequality into the zeitgeist.
HUES: Publishing our own magazine for diverse women
In 1991, we gave birth to HUES magazine, along with our Aries partner-in-crime Dyann Logwood. HUES was an acronym for Hear Us Emerging Sisters. With university grants and a few local ads, we published a half-sized, black and white issue that lit a fire on the U of M campus. A multicultural team of dedicated, talented women quickly assembled to help produce this labor of extreme love. With funds from our legendary campus hip-hop parties, grants and a small business loan, we were able to print in color on a larger press. We wanted HUES to look like any other glossy on the stands, but with content that called to a much, much wider audience. Indeed HUES did wind up on the racks of Barnes and Noble and on national newsstands. Devoted readers even brought stacks to their campuses around the world. From 1992-99, we published 13 issues of HUES with stereotype-challenging personal essays like “Unveiled” by a Muslim author discussing her choice to wear a hijab (and posing for a photo shoot in rollerskates), “Dinner Roll Barbie: And Other Dolls I’d Like To See,” and a swimsuit issue with women ranging from sizes 2 to 24. We attracted feminist icons Rebecca Walker and Gloria Steinem to our Advisory Board.
And here’s where the zodiac comes in. Gathering women from such vastly different backgrounds for a common cause wasn’t an easy feat. But there was one common language that united us all: astrology. Our Bronx-raised Nigerian editor and the suburban Jewish ad sales rep might not have otherwise clicked until discovering that they were both total Virgos. Under the heavenly influence of the stars, all surface barriers simply melted away.
Our discovery of astrology
For our 21st birthday, Ophi’s college boyfriend Calvin gave us a 30-page printed natal chart and interpretation. It was then that we discovered that we had four planets in Scorpio and FINALLY understood why we were way more intense, devoted and consistent than the average Archer. It was insane how accurate that booklet was and we were hooked. We got astrology software and quickly started doing all of our friends’ charts. Knowing their moon and rising signs was a must! Our brains began storing every celebrity’s sign—the patterns became so obvious. And naturally, we used this secret decoder ring to figure out what was going on with the romantic interests in our life. Astrology is the ultimate tool for navigating relationships.
While HUES was an all-consuming passion, we were still developing our Capricorn rising/North Node business acumen back then. HUES was a “learn as you grow” project that outpaced our early-20-something understanding. In 1997 we sold HUES to New Moon Publishing in Duluth, MN as a big sister to their empowering girl’s magazine. Alas, HUES folded a few issues later. But the hands-on experience was priceless! We like to say that we earned a PhD (Publishing HUES Degree).
The heartbreak of losing HUES was immeasurable but it opened the door for us to move to New York City—something we’d longed for since the Sassy summer. Ophira was tapped by Gloria Steinem to be an editor at Ms. Magazine, which had just been purchased by a group of female investors. Tali went to work for the activist organization Do Something, helping to create a magazine called BUILD which featured people under 25 who were transforming their communities in incredible ways. She was also teaching herself web design and teamed up with BUST magazine’s multi-hyphenate Scorpio co-founder Debbie Stoller (also a knitting genius and coding wizard) to build the first ever website for Ms.
Again, astrology followed us.
A writer who Ophi worked with to produce an article on her “transparent”/transgender father who became a woman at the same time as she did (age 13), was moonlighting as a copy-editor at Teen People magazine. She knew about our parallel obsession with the stars and urged us to just go meet the editor to talk about an astrology column.
We were reluctant at first—Teen People seemed like SUCH a departure from HUES and Ms. But the publishing world was shifting. Larger and more mainstream companies were picking up on the fact that this new generation cared about making the world a more inclusive place—and that if they wanted our dollar, they would have to learn to talk to the younger generation in their savvy, self-aware voice. Teen People had a celebrity focus but a huge activist one as well. And we figured we’d try “changing the system from within” by giving proactive, positive advice. As if we needed a sign that this was the right direction, the first issue our horoscopes were printed in had Britney Spears on the cover, who shares our birthday of 12-2. The column appeared on page 122: seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!
The cosmic floodgates were opened.
A few months later, a literary agent approached us about writing our first astrology book, Astrostyle. A friend who worked on HUES brought us into Oxygen media to create a monthly column. Before we knew it, writing horoscopes was officially a career. What?! But what was most amazing about this transition was how similar writing ‘scopes was to discussing the themes of HUES. We were able to give empowering advice, help people accept their own quirks and relate better to others who weren’t like them—but through the lens of the zodiac. As it turns out, astrology is kind of like the peanut butter that you slip the heartworm pill in before giving it to your Golden Retriever. You can tell someone, “You’re such a spotlight hog!” and they kind of want to slap you. But if you say, “You’re a Leo. You need to be the center of attention,” they’re like, yeah baby, that’s me.
Writing astrology columns became our almost full-time gig after a couple years—with supplemental income from web design. (Building a dream sometimes requires a second skill during the development phase.) In 2006, we decided to turn Astrostyle into its own brand and dedicated website. In 2008, we published our second book Love Zodiac and began writing all the horoscopes for Elle.com. Since then, it’s been all astro, all the time. Two more books followed: Shoestrology and Momstrology. Amazing new clients rolled in along with Elle.com like Refinery29, Elle Australia, Interview Germany, and TV Guide. We’ve done live forecasts on MTV, weighed in on celebrities in People magazine, and have teamed up on projects with some of our favorite brands like Nordstrom, Mind Body Green, and Calypso St. Barth.
And here’s where HUES comes full circle—with a star-powered twist. Every year, we hold our annual Become Your Own Astrologer retreat. With a group of 20 women, we kick off our shoes and spend a week together in Tulum, Mexico in deep discussion about our charts and what makes us tick as individuals. We let our hair down, dance, swim unabashedly in bikinis no matter our size and bond into the wee hours of the night. The setting may be different, but the same scenario could easily be transposed to a kitchen table HUES meeting back in the 90s.
Looking back on this collection of experiences, it doesn’t seem so random after all. But finding one’s passion often emerges after a series of trial-and-error attempts. And if we’d known as kids what we know now about astrology, we might even have been able to predict that we’d wind up working in publishing (Sagittarius Sun), owning our own business (Capricorn rising and North Node) and focusing on a mystical subject (Scorpio stellium). Our Saturn—which we call the personal trainer planet because it reveals where you work hard for mastery—is in Gemini, the sign of writing (and twins too).
Simply put, astrology is an incredible tool and short code to our deepest desires. Knowing about planetary placements can help people quickly distinguish their direction and path. We’re passionate about that and believe that everyone has a purpose on this planet. And that hey, maybe finding that purpose is the answer to world peace—when we’re consumed by what we love doing, we don’t have time to hate. Our mission is keep on “bringing the stars down to earth,” interpreting ancient wisdom with a practical twist.
Thanks for reading our story—and our ‘scopes!
With Love and Starlight,