Coco and Breezy

From shields of protection, to cloaks of cool, Coco and Breezy Dotson’s relationship with sunglasses have become their claim to fame. As two eccentric young twins growing up in a Midwestern suburb of Minnesota, things weren’t always sunny. Often misunderstood, they began making their own eyewear to fuel their creative passions, while also hiding behind it. Their signature eclectic futuristic frames got them noticed almost instantly when they decided to abandon art school fantasies for their true dream at the ripe age of 18 when they dropped everything to move to New York City.

One week in the big city, and still no place to live, they had already begun their business by just being and trying to figure out their next step. Little did they know they already were walking the path. People saw something in them that those back in their hometown had failed to recognize. Their glasses, an instant hit, are now fashion staples and seen on the likes of many and around the world. Like their glasses, Coco and Breezy exude a certain soft edginess. They are artists at the core first and foremost, as their brand is constantly evolving from eyewear, to apparel, art prints and even a little inspiration.

amfm: You guys grew up in the Midwest and were working three jobs as teenagers, and making glasses on the side. Was designing always something that you wanted to do?

breezy: When we say glasses saved our life, we actually mean that. Growing up a lot of people really didn’t understand our style and us, and so we used sunglasses as like a shield of protection for those people so we could avoid eye contact with them. We started working at 15, we had one job then, and by 17 and 18 we had three jobs each. After that we created our sunglasses and we figured out that we were on to something and started our company.

amfm: What kind of jobs did you guys have?

breezy: Our first job was at Leeann Chins. It was like this Chinese spot and we worked there for like three years, and then we worked at retail stores in the Mall of America.

amfm: How did you guys end up in New York?

breezy: We started traveling to New York by ourselves when we were 17. We always felt like New York was home. Our last trip there was for our 19th birthday, and that was the trip that told us we had to move ASAP. We thought this is the move; we have to do this. We had actually enrolled in an art school in Chicago at the Art Institute, but something in our heads told us that we had more to do. We had to start our company right now. It was perfect timing. The time was now, we couldn’t wait. It was scary, but perfect. A lot of hustling; We’re still hustling, but it’s a passion of ours and we love it.

amfm: Can you describe what it was like just getting to New York and how people began approaching you and what that tipping point was for your brand?

breezy: When we first went there, what really helped is when we would wear them, people would just come up to us and be like “oh my gosh your glasses!” And we’re just like some girls from the suburbs. We weren’t walking around trying to sell them or anything, we were just being ourselves and people would try to figure out who we were, and we’d be like “Oh we’re eyewear designers.”

amfm: What was it like growing up in a suburb of Minnesota being Coco and Breezy?

breezy: Oh my gosh, it was lonely! It was a lot of being misunderstood. We would not get partners in class, a lot of being the last person picked, we got bullied. We would go to our lockers and have people writing mean stuff. It was difficult. We had some friends, but we didn’t have like a core group of friends. It was always just two of us together. We were more cool that like the teachers could see it. We knew that we wanted to graduate early. We knew that we wanted to just get out of there, out of that environment of just being judged.

amfm: What were your parents like, how did they kind of influence your creativity growing up?

breezy: Our mom and dad, we couldn’t have done it without them. They really supported us. Any outfit we wanted to wear as a kid, any art supplies we wanted, we got. Any piece of art we made them, they loved it. They really encouraged us to be creative, and that really helped make us into the women that we are today. It’s truly amazing how much they’ve inspired us. Our parents…they are funny. They’re not like us. They always say Coco and I are very reserved. We are very shy and timid, and our parents are the opposite. Like you’ll know when my mom is in the room, and our dad, he’ll like have the room crackin up. He’s a jokester.

amfm: Do you have any early childhood memories of being into fashion? What was like an awkward phase, or something that you went through?

breezy: We grew up in the suburbs, and my mom moved to more of an inner city area, and my dad moved to more of a suburb. We went to school where our mom lived in the inner city and we would get called valley girls and people would say we were too happy. We got cyber bullied, that’s when social media was just starting to happen. People would like threaten to beat our asses if we came to the high school, so we like cried to our parents that we wanted to go to a different high school, so we went to the one where our dad was living. Where he was living, that area was even worse! There was racism going on. I had someone tell me that I was the first black girl they had ever seen. We had come from an inner city school where no one accepted us and saying we were white-washed valley girls, to that. So we were never really accepted anywhere that we went. Honestly it wasn’t necessarily our skin color so much, it was that we were different.

amfm: How do Coco and Breezy the brand differ from Coco and Breezy the people?

breezy: Honestly our glasses are what made us. Our glasses are often statement pieces, and when we wear our glasses it gives us a whole nother level of being out there. So like you’ll see our style and think that we are super loud, crazy, party girls, but we are like super shy, anti-social, quiet art girls. Our glasses give us a whole different level of confidence and a little push to be more outspoken.

amfm: What do you guys love about eyewear in particular?

breezy: My favorite thing about eyewear is everything! The style of sunglasses; they have their own identity. You can take a pair of sunglasses for the day and add to your own personality, and it just gives you a character for the day. I feel like 99 percent of people that when they put on sunglasses, they feel extremely important, and there’s level of confidence that you get from a pair sunglasses. Everyone when they put on a pair of sunglasses, they feel like they’re the shit! You get that little boost of confidence you didn’t have just a minute ago.

amfm: What inspires and motivates you guys? You guys are often sending your fans inspiring words, where do you get yours from?

breezy: The people that support us definitely. Honestly, we have so many people that support us, and we feel like we can’t let them down. Also, we’re doing what we love. We’re absolutely doing everything that we love right now. I think when you really love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. It’s art. Even though glasses are our specialty, we’re artists, not just fashion designers.

amfm: What’s your dynamic like working together?

breezy: When it comes to ideas, we definitely have like a core balance. Coco is more structured and I’m more free-spirited and artsy, and Coco is more into the business structure. So it’s really awesome when we design our eyewear, I always start off with the design, and it goes through Coco; She approves everything, and she also manages the production. It’s a really great dynamic because our different personalities work well with our different roles.

amfm: What are you currently obsessed with?

breezy: We are obsessed with Party Next Door! He’s this artist, and we are like literally obsessed. We play his album back to back, every single day. Party Next Door, and red lipstick. And of course we’re always obsessed with black clothing, that’s like our whole wardrobe.

For more from Coco and Breezy:
Coco and Breezy’s Website
photo credits: nick onken