ST. CHARLES – Twin sisters Amy Ehrmantraut and Sarah Welch look so much alike, their neighbors sometimes can't tell them apart.
"That's fairly common, especially when they first meet us," Ehrmantraut said.
The fact they live eight doors apart from each other in the Reserve of St. Charles subdivision is a coincidence.
"We were originally just looking in this area because our parents live in Elgin," Welch said. "We didn't set out necessarily to live eight doors down from each other. But when we were out here looking, we both kind of gravitated towards that neighborhood. There's a ton of kids in that neighborhood and a lot of families and good schools. We both ended up really liking that neighborhood. So we both purchased a lot. We made sure we weren't next door to each other, but we're still pretty close to each other."
Even though they look alike and sound alike, those who are observant may notice a few subtle differences between the two. Welch, for one, has a mole under her right eye while Ehrmantraut has a mole under her chin.
While Ehrmantraut and Welch share many of the same interests, their husbands are polar opposites of each other.
"My husband, Zak, is a sports nut, while Sarah's husband, Tyler, has very little interest in sports at all," Ehrmantraut said.
Their lives have been full of coincidences. They both attended the University of Illinois at Urbanda-Champaign and both majored in industrial distribution management.
However, they didn't set out to attend the same university. Welch originally planned to attend the University of Iowa, but their dad didn't want to fork over additional money for an out-of-state university.
"He actually gave me the option of paying the difference," Welch said. "But I said I would rather save the money and go to Illinois."
In order to spread their wings, they purposely did not room together during their freshman year. But they ended up living together in an apartment during their sophomore year.
They were born on Aug. 1, 1977. Sarah is actually three minutes older than Amy.
They are used to the attention they get when they are shopping together. And they are more than happy to answer questions from total strangers who stop and ask them about what it is like being a twin.
"They ask things like if we feel each other's pain," Ehrmantraut said. "That's a common question."
They do share a lot of common interests, including liking the same types of food. They also both are Chicago Cubs fans.
In addition to being twins, they are co-workers as well. They both hold senior leadership positions at Chicago-based Kenway Consulting, a management and technology consulting firm.
Ehrmantraut recruited Welch to join her at Kenway.
"She was one of the smartest, hardest working people that I knew, so I wanted her to come join us and help us grow," she said.
And they have learned there are some advantages to being co-workers – such as if you need to quickly change into a suit for a client meeting that you didn't anticipate.
"I ended up at the last minute having a meeting that required a suit," Ehrmantraut said. "It was a client meeting that hadn't been scheduled in the morning but came up at the last minute. And Sarah was wearing a suit and no longer needed it. So we were able to quickly change and share clothes."
Needless to say, their co-workers were a little confused because they saw Welch in the suit earlier that day. Both Welch and Ehrmantraut are thankful for the bond they have between them as a result of being twins.
"You always have someone in your corner," Welch said. "You always have someone that you can talk to. It's nice to be able to have someone that you know and that you trust."
"You have a built-in friend," she said. "You are never lonely."