When it comes to the intersection of eye health and fashion, designers Corianna and Brianna Dotson, widely known as Coco and Breezy are leading the way.
As recent heat advisories put over 180 million people under watch, it’s only right that many keep their eye health intact with stylish shades. But not all sunglasses are made equal. Sunglasses made to block UVA and UVB are the most important, especially for women.
Thinking of the perfect sunglasses to not only slay but protect your eyes can be overwhelming but Coco and Breezy Eyewear is making a statement with their regal designs. The fraternal twins kicked off their journey in eyewear in 2009 with D.I.Y. designs that caught the attention of Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, the late Prince and Ashanti.
We're about to raise capital to scale our company which is really exciting. There's only been 0.5 percent of women who have done it and a fraction of that have been women of color. We're really making history.
Brianna “Breezy” Dotson
“I wouldn’t have thought that some of the biggest people would be wearing our shades today,” Breezy tells VIBE during a moment of reflection at Samsung’s Summer of Galaxy Event in New York. Both brands are celebrating ten years in the business, with the Galaxy phones crossing boundaries in tech and the ladies morphing their style from their Bushwick apartment to over 400 stores across America.
“We’ve finally seen the fruits of our labor and being here with Samsung right now and doing D.I.Y.–something we haven’t done in years– just brings us back to how it first started,” Breezy adds. “We were extremely D.I.Y. trying to figure it out and it got really popular. There came a time when the D.I.Y. frames became less popular so we had to educate ourselves on how to design real product. Now, our eyewear designs are vertically integrated so we do everything from ideation to managing the production.”
Coco and Breezy are beyond hip to integration. As tools like Galaxy 10+ and the swanky Samsung Frame TV are on display at the Soho Grand Hotel, the ladies are hard at work making custom frames for guests. With a glue gun in one hand and their latest frames in the other, guests were able to experience a special moment in Coco and Breezy’s journey.
Creating the shades and collaborating with the right people has always been poignant to the businesswomen. The billion-dollar eyewear industry is highly competitive, with a small number of black-owned brands in the premium eyewear space. Some include Peoples From Barbados, alongside Coco & Breezy that are solely owned by black women.
Breezy says they’re mindful of the lack of representation in the industry, which is why they house their lenses from the black-owned optical shop, Seeing is Believing. “It’s crazy because there’s not a lot of people of color in the eyewear industry, so that’s always been important to tie that together,” she says. “We’re about to raise capital to scale our company which is really exciting. There’s only been 0.5 percent of women who have done it and a fraction of that have been women of color. We’re really making history.”
Eye health is another standard on their agenda. “We’re very passionate about the health of eyes. I think a lot of times with the fashion magazines and through TV, there’s a miseducated narrative,” Breezy says. “You hear glasses are only for the summertime or glasses are only for prescription but our goal is to use our voice and our platform and our company to let people know it’s actually important to check the health of your eyes.”
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A 2017 study from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) notes that 26.9 million adult Americans have vision disabilities, including blindness. African-Americans also face visual impairment at a faster rate than Latinx and Asian communities with women at a higher risk of vision loss across the board. With their lens style changing from clear to colored, Coco and Breezy use blue light protected lenses to enhance the health of their consumers’ eyes.
“All of our sunglasses really protect eyes from UV rays,” Breezy says. “People don’t understand the importance of eye care. You can end up blind if you keep playing around.”
The Afro-Latinx twins have also learned about maintaining healthy business practices with their company. Delegation is a powerful tool they’ve mastered along with understanding what consumers want. “We grew up so boot-strappy but in order to grow you have to be able to build a team and actually know how to scale a company,” Breezy says.
“We’ve asked these questions to ourselves: How do I create great company culture within our company and how can I be a great leader within our company as well? We’re not just creating a product, we’re creating a culture for individualists. We exude diversity, we exude individuality, we exude bringing the community together. The reason why we wanted to design eyewear was that we were feeling left out, feeling bullied and we found our love for sunglasses.”
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As businesswomen always on the go, the Samsung 10 has been a great tool for Coco and Breezy to show off their latest products. “I love the selfie camera, Coco and I being sisters, we love taking photos together and they make it really wide for the selfie. It’s gorgeous,” Breezy says. “When you take a photo on the camera, it streamlines it to your profile and there’s no pixelation. With the [Samsung] watch, I think that it is so stylish. I’m all about being fly but I’m so Type A when it comes to productivity. I don’t want to wear something that’s not functional so if I can check my emails and my texts and everything on the go, it’s a jam.”
As their empire grows (the twins are also trendsetting DJs and producers) Coco and Breezy only want to shoot for the stars. “Staying true to ourselves is the biggest which is a lesson we’ve been true to,” Breezy explains. “Stepping back, and thinking about the bigger picture. As people of color, we grow up without a lot of resources and so the dreams I had back in the day I thought were so big and I accomplished those so quickly, I had to challenge myself and think, ‘How can I think even bigger?’ I think about what I haven’t even seen and that’s one of the biggest things.”
Coco and Breezy’s longevity is a given, especially with their focus into protecting users from blue light. Often hailed as an environmental treat in tech, blue light has been proven to drain the secretion of melatonin at a higher rate than normal light. With most adults wearing sunglasses to only prevent glare, the additional set of protection is a must for any consumer, including young people. By serving those neglected by the eyewear business with eye health and regal fashion, the duo is setting a blueprint for aspiring designers.