Coco & Breezy Eyewear, Known For Prince's Third Eye Sunglasses, Receive Investment To Diversify White Male-Dominated Industry
The sisters created the now-famous "third eye" glasses that music legend Prince would often wear.
March 25, 2021 at 10:00 pm
Good Morning America had some good news for two Black women who are using their innovative eyewear designs to diversify the largely white and male-dominated industry.
Corianna and Brianna Dotson, twin sisters and founders of Coco and Breezy Eyewear, appeared on GMA on Thursday and were hit with a surprise from the hosts. The sisters have been working tirelessly in the industry for years to keep their company going.
But now, they are getting a timely investment of $500,000 from Reign Ventures, a venture capital group led by Black women.
Reign Ventures co-founder Monique Idlett-Mosley surprised the twins, announcing that they were hoping to invest $500,000 into their business.
"We know that you have a uniquely talented team and an amazing market opportunity and that you will be the leading fashion-forward technology-driven eyewear brand," Idlett-Mosley, who has also helped mentor the two women as they built out their business, said.
The twins said they started with a small grant but are now doing a round of seed funding, hoping to use venture funds run by Black women.
They added that they planned to use the money to expand their digital marketing so they could reach more people, get more eyes on their work and hire more experts in order to scale the company.
"From the moment I met them, I knew that not only do we want to financially invest in them, but they are just amazing human beings and it is our obligation to find founders like that who are conscious capital, who care about inclusivity and are just amazing human beings," Idlett-Mosley added.
Brianna told the morning show hosts that within the eyewear field, they are one of the only Black and Latina-owned companies and for some of the 400 stores where their eyewear is sold, they were the first Black or Latina founders ever.
"The eyewear field is a very white male-dominated industry and so in a lot of stores that we're in, we were the first Black-owned and Latina-owned company in a lot of these shops. We don't mind being the first to pave the way, but we don't want to be the only so we give our time a lot to other Black and brown people that want to design eyewear and create a company. We give that time to educate them on how to do that," Brianna said.
"We've been bootstrapping since day 1," Corianna added, noting that they got their first big break when they created the now-famous "third eye" glasses that music legend Prince would often wear.
The company was founded in 2009 but the sisters struggled to get the business off the ground until they got a strange message on Facebook one day in 2015 from someone purporting to be part of Prince's team, according to NBC News.
“We ignored the messages… we didn’t think it was Prince, Prince. We would never think that,” Brianna said, noting that things changed when they got a call from YouTube personality Shameless Maya, who confirmed it was the music icon Prince.
Prince had apparently seen their designs on Youtube and wanted to collaborate with the twins. Prince flew them out for a performance and became close with the pair, often inviting them to his very exclusive parties.
During one event Prince asked the pair to create a real-life version of the glasses he had on the cover of his HITnRUN Phase One album. He went on to wear the glasses twice, once while he appeared on a Nov. 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live and again in 2015 at the American Music Awards.
“[The sunglasses] literally arrived to our apartment the morning of the SNL performance and we rushed them to him. It wasn’t guaranteed he would wear the glasses,” Brianna told NBC News.
Prince even questioned the two about why they had not created a retail version of the glasses considering how popular they had become after he wore them. The two then quickly put something together on their website.
“We wanted to do an official collaboration with his brand, so we were waiting to hear back from his legal team. But Prince told us — ‘Don’t go through my team. Sell the glasses on your own and buy yourself a house. Just save me a room,’” Corianna said.
Prince then tweeted out a link to the glasses, skyrocketing the pair into eyewear fame. Five days after he sent out the tweet, he passed away.
Prince had on shades and had a third shade for his third eye… This man was the damn goat pic.twitter.com/mLs6YiE5rs
— Doms (@DomIzDope) April 21, 2016
Since the support from Prince, their eyewear designs have been worn by Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and even Beyoncé.
The two went from being bullied teenagers in Minnesota to seeing their eyewear designs on the world's most famous stars.
“We made a negative into a positive. We literally quit our jobs, sold our car, moved to New York with less than $1,000 and started our company,” Brianna said.