Prince was known to scope out young, new artists, but Apple Valley twin sisters Corianna and Brianna Dotson (aka Coco and Breezy) never could have imagined what would happen when the Purple One first summoned the duo two years ago.
At first, Prince wanted the girls to perform a dance number for him on stage. When he learned they were behind an eyewear empire to the stars, he had a special request.
“He asked us to design some sunglasses for him with three lenses,” Coco said. “Third-eye glasses.”
Coco, now based in New York, shared the story of how Prince’s famous “Tres lens” sunglasses came to be and why they almost didn’t happen.
Q: How did Prince find you?
A: Someone on his team reached out to us on Facebook and told us that Prince was in New York and wanted to invite us to his concert. We missed the message. They reached out again and said he was having a party at Paisley Park and wanted to invite us. We didn’t really think it was Prince — we thought someone was messing with us — so we never responded.
His team hit us up again and said that when Prince asks them to reach out to people, it means he wants to work with them. Finally, they got in touch again and told us that Prince saw a video of us dancing online — because we used to dance — and he wanted us to come to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival and be his guest and dance on stage with him. We hadn’t danced in five or six years, but if Prince was inviting us to come dance, we were all about it.
Q: What was the first meeting like?
A: We were so nervous. When I walked into the auditorium for rehearsal I gave him a hug and thanked him for inviting us. He said, “No, thank you. You guys are going to make me famous.” He was such a kind guy. He wanted you to feel just as good as he felt. He never acted like he was better than anyone.
We showed him our dance that his people choreographed for us, and then he said he wanted all the other dancers to get offstage and only wanted Coco and Breezy on stage. He said, “I want you guys to choreograph your own dance.” He challenged us and we did it.
From there, we developed a friendship with him.
Q: How did the friendship evolve after that?
A: He’d come to New York, and we’d get a call from someone on his team at 1 a.m. telling us that he wanted to invite us to dinner. He’d send a car for us, and we’d go to a big closed restaurant with a private chef and maybe 10 other people. We’d have dinner, dance and enjoy music all night. If you were in his circle he would make us feel so good. We’d always give him a pair of sunglasses and he loved them.
Q: How did the third-eye sunglasses come to be?
A: He invited us to Paisley Park before he released his second-to-last album. He said, “I want you to hear my album before it comes out. I want your feedback.” The fact that he’s such a legend and he wants our feedback? Wow.
Then he told us that he would love a pair of glasses with three lenses. We told him we didn’t have those but we could create them. So we went home, went to our drawing board and started sketching ideas. It took a few months to produce them and they came in the same day he performed on “Saturday Night Live,” his first appearance in years. He invited us to the show, and when he turned around on stage, he had the glasses on. I couldn’t believe it. Every rock star has an iconic something that people always remember them for. I knew then that those glasses would be part of his history.
Q: Did you consider collaborating with Prince to market them?
A: After “SNL,” we wanted to make the glasses a special collaboration with Prince. He said, “No, it’s all you. You guys take those glasses, sell them and go buy a house. Just save me a room in your house.”
Q: Why do you think Prince chose you?
A: He’s known in part for his incredible style, so the fact that he wanted to work with us out of all the other eyewear companies was amazing. He really liked our brand and that we’re from Minnesota and we’re young ladies. He was all about supporting young ladies and young creatives.
Q: Can the public buy them?
A: We made the third-eye glasses almost two years ago, but when we realized the public wanted them, we re-engineered them to make them more functional. We made it so the third rim is removable. You can wear them with two lenses or wear them covering your third eye. Our planned launch date was the day after Prince died. A few days before, he tweeted a link and crashed our website. We hadn’t spoken to him in a while, but I’m sure he was proud of us.