Coco & Breezy are letting their fashion eyewear designs do all the marketing these days.
The Apple Valley twins transported their entrepreneurial dreams from Minnesota to New York five years ago. “No place to stay. Didn’t know where we were going. Just left,” said Coco. With $1,000 between them the energetic then 19-year-olds — who have a proclivity for treating their bodies like canvas — got busy working hard and being walking billboards for products they say are now sold in 20 countries.
Between blue lipstick and outrageous haircuts, they’ve always been visual feasts. I was partial to the blonde skunk dos, still viewable at cocoandbreezy.com, which also catalogs their impressive amount of media coverage.
“We thought we had every hairstyle in the book. People only knew us as the girls with the crazy hair and sunglasses and we felt …” said Coco, with Breezy continuing, “ … we felt that in order for us to grow as women and businesswomen — our brand was growing but we weren’t growing — shaving our hair off gave us this empowerment, this level of confidence we never had.”
“Yep,” affirmed Coco.
As much as they finish each other’s sentences and speak in unison, they also dropped a few “Yeps” on me Saturday during our interview in a Minneapolis warehouse where they were doing a photo shoot for their new sunglasses designs. Don’t let the tattoos fool you. They are serious business when it comes to adorning big celebrities and regular people. Their drive is palpable in person and perhaps on my startribune.com/video.
Q: You make a tote with BusinessWoman on it but are you bothered by the word Bossy?
Coco: I’m not bothered by that because Breezy is bossy.
Breezy???: Yeah. WHO SAID THIS [The tote] said BusinessWoman with a girl with a septum piercing. Our whole thing is being business women. I think that a lot of society [judges] people by the way they dress or the way their hair is or piercing, especially Middle America. You don’t only have to be in a suit to be considered a businessman or businesswoman. WHO SAID THIS
Breezy: It’s all about your knowledge, your experience and your goals in life and your execution. So we are really huge on career days. We come with our leather jackets, our tattoos showing. We’re businesswomen and we are fully tattooed.
Q: Any big designers paying attention to you (not that you’re not big, too)?
Breezy: Tommy Hilfiger, a couple of months ago. It was for a possible project. He was amazing. It was funny because he was introducing us as his friends. Also one of our eyewear designer friends, [whose] brand is called Christian Roth.
In unison: Legendary Eyewear Co. CHECK 305. 744.6385
Coco: Sometimes we have questions. We’ll contact them. They told us that we remind them of them when they were our ages and first started their eyewear company. Also there’s a known designer, Milly, based in New York. She shows at New York Fashion Week. She just started carrying our eyewear. It’s selling really well. I’m crossing my fingers we can do a collaboration; that’s my dream.
Q: I was telling some Lake Minnetonka pals I was interviewing you and they asked for you to make floating sunglasses for boaters or come up with sunglasses insurance?
Coco: Oh wow, I’m going to write that down [Laughs]. That’s amazing, actually.
Q: A “60 Minutes” segment left us with the impression Luxottica was making all the eyewear?
In unison: They definitely have like over 90 percent of the eyewear.
Breezy: For sure, all of the big brands like Ray-Bans and Chanel, all those huge companies.
Coco: Now though, with the market growing [there are] so, so many different independent lines like us. We’re an independent company. It’s amazing [the widening] range. We pay close attention to our quality and our unique designs.
Q: How do you design: with color, clay or pen and paper?
Coco: We’re old school, pen and paper.
Breezy: That’s how we start off, one of our friends, Tito ****, another eyewear designer, introduced us to using clay to create the shapes to get the full effect. We also use Illustrator*** to see it digitally. We kind of do it all types of ways.
Q: You design, someone else executes?
Coco: We do all the technical drawings, all the measurements. Then we have our factory produce them …
Breezy: … make samples. Our factory is in China.
Q: You told one interviewer that as a result of Minnesota being a non-fashion state, you got stared at a lot. Does anybody stare at you in NYC?
Breezy: While we’re in New York we don’t get stared at as much.
Coco: Being in New York you see so [many] different things. We really appreciate the fact that we’re from Minnesota. Because of the fashion world, we didn’t have so many resources growing up so I think that’s what really expanded our creativity. THEY DID NOT CALL ME BACK TODAY SO I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN THE PRECEDING SENTENCE. I THINK THEY ARE TRAVELING.
Q: Remember the first pair of sunglasses you owned?
Breezy: Oh my gosh. You know what [pointing at Coco]. We were on a road trip with Mom and Dad. Do you remember that?
Breezy: Are you serious. We went to Kmart? Wal-Mart and got some glasses. We were little. Our first pair of fashion sunglasses; we started wearing them in high school.
Breezy: High school is when we started to develop a huge collection of vintage frames and cool shapes.
Q: Celebrities on whom you’ve put sunglasses?
Coco: Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Maguel. Every pop star you can think of.
In unison: Kelly Osbourne, Rihanna
Q: Has Beyoncé called you since you were in her “Party” video?
Breezy: We’ve been out with her …
Coco: … a few times, since we were in her video.
Q: So Beyoncé returns your phone calls?
Coco: We don’t actually call her. Somebody from her team [contacts us].
Q: What’s going on with you and Prince?
Coco: Let’s just say he invited us to New Orleans. We danced on stage with Prince in front of about 35,000 people. It was crazy.
Q: What runs through your mind when you hear a TV person say, “Two twins”?
Breezy: You know what, I’m not going to lie. I feel we used to use that phrase and then my friend was like, ‘Don’t say that because obviously twins [are] double.’ [Laughs]
Coco: Oh yeah.
Q: Twins on GMA said they felt like one person in two bodies. Do you know this feeling?
Breezy: We totally feel like one person in two bodies. There [are] things Coco is amazing at that I am not good at and vice versa.
Coco: But we really feed off each other very well
Breezy: We feed off each other’s energy even when we design and create.
Q: Do you ever get on each other’s nerves?
Coco: Breezy gets on my nerves all the time.
Breezy: Coco gets on my nerves all the time. On the way to the photo shoot, we were bickering.
Coco: Bickering about the wrong directions and my friend [said], ‘You’re smiling while you’re yelling at each other.’ No negative energy involved. We get on each other’s nerves all the time. We don’t fight.
Q: Ever known any twins who were not best friends?
Breezy: We’ve met …
In unison: … so many twins who aren’t best friends.
Coco: We don’t understand the concept. We share our money and clothes.
Q: Keep any secrets from each other?
In unison: Um, [looking at each other] not really.
Q: Who does the cooking?
Coco: I am like the best cooker. Breezy is lazy.
Breezy: I AM NOT!
Coco: You know that moment when you haven’t gone grocery shopping? Breezy would stay hungry. I can put together a gourmet looking meal.
Breezy: Yeah. [Nodding affirmatively.] I’ll agree to that.
Coco: So I’m definitely the cooker.
Breezy: I’ll give you that.
Coco: You make basic things. I make …
Breezy: … extravagant things.
Coco: I love to explore when I cook. Cooking’s like my art.
Q: Who cleans up your place?
Breezy: Coco [Laughter].
Coco: I’m the mother of the two. [Pointing at herself]
Breezy: I’m the artist.
Q: What do you do, Breezy?
Breezy: I handle our sales. That’s a lot of stress. I hang that over Coco. I’m stressed out I’m doing sales and I design the collection. That’s the whole meat and potatoes of our company. So Coco has to clean up.
Q: Is there a dominant twin?
Coco: I would say there isn’t, depending on the situation. Breezy is more [fingers as claws]. She’s mean. People think Breezy is so tough. She just know what she wants. I’m more chill, laid back. Everyone thinks she’s mean but they think I’m mean without saying anything.
Q: But you’re a control freak, Coco?
In unison: Yes.
Breezy: You’ve seen it? [Actually, Coco, tipped me off and owned it.]
Coco: I’m breaking away from it, a bit.
Q: What are your aspirations after you have taken over fashion sunglasses?
Coco: Getting into opticals. That’s our next venture. We’re entrepreneurs.
Breezy: We plan on starting other brands that [are] not under our names, investing in companies.
Coco: Our goal is to find some twins younger than us, mentor them and help them start a business.
Q: You’re millionaires now?
Coco: Not yet.
In unison: We’re millionaires in our mind.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try email@example.com and to see her watch FOX 9’s “Buzz.”