Fresh off their Nordstrom launch, twin sisters Coco and Breezy talk shop.
From fashion to music to real estate, Coco and Breezy have not let the pandemic year slow their entrepreneurial spirit.
In January, the twin sisters announced a partnership with Nordstrom that will make Coco and Breezy the first Black-owned eyewear company to be featured by the luxury retailer. “[We] hope to open the doors for many more of us,” they said in a jubilant joint statement.
Such a marquee partnership would have been unthinkable for Corianna and Brianna Dotson back in 2009, when they were hustling to make their first sunglasses in between retail shifts at Minnesota’s Mall of America. “Growing up in the burbs, we got bullied for our skin color and the way we talked,” Coco recalls. “Sunglasses were our alter egos. We felt unstoppable wearing them, but insecure when we took them off.”
As their custom glasses began gaining traction on MySpace, the duo decided to quit their jobs and moved to New York with less than $1,000 between them. “We went with our intuition,” Breezy says. “As soon as we landed in New York, the block was hot. We were like walking advertisements. … We would sneak into all the hot parties as well.”
Within three months of moving to the city, the sisters had the likes of Lady Gaga, Ashanti and Kelly Osbourne wearing their products. As the initial hype started to fade, they credit co-founder Duane Baker with helping them pivot from hand embellishment to designing models from scratch.
“Those down moments are all learning curves,” says Coco. “We took so much time be like, what company do we want to be? How can we improve our product? Let’s do our supply chain.”
The result was a scalable and sustainable business that brought them into collaboration with A-listers like Beyonce, Rihanna and Prince, and served as a platform for their other passions. While the duo’s high-octane DJ gigs are currently on hold due to the coronavirus, they feel compelled to combat the lack of diversity and representation in the dance music scene.
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“Black and brown people started dance music and then it became whitewashed,” Breezy says. “If you listen to the cover songs, it’s all Black women’s voices. But you just see a white dude who produced the music. That’s problematic.”
In 2019, the Afro-Latinx sisters took aim at inequity in the property market by partnering with Triller co-founder David Leiberman and attorney Julian Darwall to create a Catskills retreat called The Lorca. Featuring five homes completely redesigned by Coco and Breezy, it now regularly hosts private rentals and brand partnerships.
“There’s a lot of trauma within our communities with owning property, and even being able to get the same loans that everyone else is getting,” says Breezy.
The twins’ sense of civic responsibility extends to the affordable kids eyewear line they launched with Zenni Optical last year. A portion of proceeds goes to the Child Mind Institute’s Healthy Brain Network to support mental health resources for youth in Black communities.
With new music and cross-sector collaborations on the way, expect more headlines from the sisters this coming year. “What we’re building is more than eyewear,” Coco says. “We’re building a brand, and eyewear is one of our mediums. We’re building a lifestyle.”
Photography by: PHOTO BY AGGTH