Twin sisters Corianna and Brianna Dotson were bullied as kids growing up in Minnesota, where there weren’t many other women of color. It was during those tough times, however, when they discovered their love for sunglasses, which offered a sense of protection. When they put on their glasses, they felt like they became their alter egos — Coco and Breezy — fearless young women who could conquer the world.
In a sense, the co-founders of Coco and Breezy Eyewear did just that. “We made a negative into a positive,” Breezy told Know Your Value, explaining that she and her sister always had an eclectic style, which they channeled into their fashion by embellishing DIY frames and bedazzling them. “We literally quit our jobs, sold our car, moved to New York with less than $1,000 and started our company.”
Founded in 2009, Coco & Breezy Eyewear started with humble beginnings, yet the glasses quickly caught the attention of iconic artists. In the early days, the Dotson sisters — who were only 19 years old at the time — made glasses in their small Bushwick apartment on an air mattress. Those glasses were eventually worn by Lady Gaga. And within three months, their glasses adorned the faces of Kelly Osbourne, Ashanti, Nicki Minaj and Prince.
“Collaborating with a legend like Prince had a huge impact on our company,” Coco said. He asked for glasses with three lenses, and they sketched multiple ideas to turn his vision into a reality. “My dream was always to design glasses for an iconic artist,” Breezy said.
However, like anything worthwhile, their successes have also been met with challenges. One big hurdle for Coco and Breezy is balancing sisterhood and being business partners. They always knew they would work together. In fact, their dad got sick when they were teenagers, and they worked together starting at age 15 to help him pay his rent. Yet when they officially started their company, they knew there needed to be a shift.
The sisters had to look closely at their strengths, dole out responsibilities accordingly and hold each other accountable. “It’s really important to try to separate your relationship as a family member and your relationship as business partners. That has been very difficult for us,” Coco said. “We have no issues being business partners; it’s us making sure we don’t lose our sistership,” Breezy added.
When they are not designing glasses, Coco and Breezy work together as DJs and producers.
Funding is also a tough entrepreneurial challenge for the sisters. “Breezy and I systemically have so many things ingrained in us, where we felt like we don’t ask people for money, we don’t talk about money,” Coco said. “But now we’re at a point where we’re really understanding our value.”
“Knowing your value is so important,” Breezy added.
“Having that separation of working really hard and also taking care of our bodies, that is so, so, so important,” Coco said. “Walk into a room like you’re a boss ... We’re founders of an eyewear company and we’re entrepreneurs, and we’re going to be bosses.”