There are many things we love about Corianna and Brianna Dotson. They are dope, they are fearless and they own their personal style. Thankfully for the fashion folks, the twin sisters have translated that into their own accessories label called Coco & Breezy, inspired by their nicknames, which features sunglasses that are as offbeat as their style. When they were 19 years old, Corianna and Brianna started Coco & Breezy after moving from Minnesota to join the hundreds of aspirants in New York. While their age could have created an obstacle in pursuing their dream, they didn’t let it become an hinderance. In fact it’s one of the reasons why the young designers think Coco & Breezy appeals to many.
“They can relate to us,” Brianna shares. “I mean we’re young designers. We don’t let our age stops us so that we can show to young and older people that anything is possible.”
And they’ve definitely have proven it. Now at 20 years old, the designers are gaining recognition from the industry and celebrities including Ashanti, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, and it’s only going to get brighter from here. We talked to Brianna on what it’s like to be young black designers, biggest rewards and an exclusive detail to their new collection for Spring 2012.
ESSENCE.COM: You’ve been written up on Essence before, how do you feel about the support?
BRIANNA DOTSON: We thought it was really cool just because that’s a magazine that we grew up on, and so we thought it was pretty awesome just to know that we were written in Essence a few times. We remember having the magazines in the bathroom or living room. I never imagine that we actually be featured in the magazine being from Minnesota. We didn’t even imagine being designers in New York.
ESSENCE.COM: As black designers, did you face any challenges getting your dreams off the ground?
BD: I think that as a designer everybody does have a risk and that’s what it’s all about, but I know that everything is all about timing. I think that the time that we did move up to New York was perfect timing because it took us about probably a couple of weeks after we moved to New York. It truly was having faith in the way we made our product. I do think that it wasn’t saying it was easy but of course it was difficult. but the way that we raised ourselves we’re used to working hard. We started working hard like at 14-15 years old so working hard wasn’t new to us. I think that with our image it helped us a lot take our brand. When people started to recognize Coco & Breezy, they see us they’re wondering, “Who are these girls walking in New York? I’ve never seen them before. What do they do?” We’re pretty much walking advertisements when we first started.
ESSENCE.COM: Do you think your age or race factor in when trying to get media and media attention?
BD: No, I actually don’t let my race or age put me down because to me I’m universal. I don’t cater to certain race and I don’t matched to certain race or my age as well. Of course, granted people might look at us and they might judge us, but when they sit down with me in a meeting and they see that I know all the business lingo and business vocabulary and they can relate to me, they pretty much take me serious. I think that a lot of people they almost put themselves in a box like, “Oh I’m this race. Oh I’m this age.” People will judge them so mentally if you’re use to someone going to judge you, you’re always going to have that in your mind and you let that happen to you. With Coco and me, we’re universal. We’re the same age. I have a product. I have something that I want. We have goals so we just go for it. We do study a lot. Of course, we go extra harder because older people might think that “Oh, these little girls,” but mentally and truthfully I think that, “Yeah some might have ten years on us, but what we’ve done in two years can be the same amount of things they’ve done in ten years.” It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the hard work that you put into it and we put in a lot of hard work.
ESSENCE.COM: What has been the biggest award since Coco & Breezy started?
BD: I got to say the biggest reward is definitely having my mom that proud because when we move to New York we told her that we got a job set up. It’s crazy. Two little freshmen, 19 years old moved to New York just to make glasses so for me to see our success makes me want to work harder and also knowing that there are little girls and older women out there – boys, men, everybody – that we’ve inspired as people. It makes Coco and me work harder because knowing that people can follow their dreams. We guide them in to the direction you go to so we do speak to a lot different colleges, schools and elementary and share our stories with those people. I think with our age it definitely does help people want to do it more as opposed to having like a 30 or 40 years old come in to talk to them. They can’t really relate to it but when they see someone with the same age as them doing it, it makes it real to them and mentally they can do it too.
ESSENCE.COM: You’re known for your futuristic accessories, where does your path lead you to?
BD: We started off with our futuristic sunglasses as far as our first collection of handcrafted sunglasses. Our new collection for Spring 2012, we’re super excited because it’s really huge for us. You’re one of the first publication for me to tell you. We’re going to mass production. I’m super excited. We have our own frames; they’re mass produced. They have our logo on it, Coco & Breezy New York in orange. A whole other sheet and little studs. They still have the Coco & Breezy look. They still have a cool style to it but you can tell that our brand is going to grow to next level.