Stephanie Nicole and Brianna Garcia-Colace used to watch New York Fashion Week recaps and award show coverage religiously on the E! Network. They were obsessed with style and would ask each other "Who are you wearing" with a makeshift microphone from the comforts of their living room in Scottsdale, Arizona. They were regulars at garage sales and local thrift stores, always on the lookout for designer bags, or even just the dust bag for the bag.
Now, fast-forward a couple of decades, and the two can afford to buy whatever designer threads and bags they want. The sisters are answering the "Who are you wearing?" question on red carpets. Better known today as Nicole and Brie Bella, or The Bella Twins, they are not only a two of the most recognizable Superstars in the WWE universe, but they're also the leads of two reality shows on --you guessed it -- the E! Network. The sisters have morphed into successful entrepreneurs who seem to have a hand in just about everything these days.
The twins even made their Fashion Week dreams come true last Thursday at the American Heart Association's 15th annual Red Dress Collection show in New York City at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The Bellas walked the runway alongside other famous women like Laurie Hernandez, Padma Lakshmi, Susan Lucci and model Jordyn Woods. The two took to the catwalk in hopes of raising awareness for heart disease and in support of various family members who have had it.
It was just a quick but meaningful stop for Nicole and Brie, 35, who have been busy zigzagging the country promoting their new body and beauty line, Nicole + Brizee over the past few weeks. The line has two lotions on the market thus far and more to come.
"We have always been obsessed with makeup, beauty products and perfumes. We knew we wanted to be in that industry, but we needed to wait for the right moment," said Nicole, ahead of her runway moment last week. "We wanted to bring our truth and authenticity to the brand, so everything about it is completely us. We even had an artist put our faces on the bottles, which brings them to life, and with the names of the lotions being 'Empower' and 'Fearless,' we want to help give [the consumer] a reminder of how strong and powerful they are, and hopefully, that stays with them all day."
The beauty line is the latest in their growing and diverse business profile, which also includes Birdiebee, a lifestyle and activewear brand, and Belle Radici, a wine collection with the Hill Family Estate. But none of these projects feel like work to the Bellas, because the brands are just extensions of themselves and their interests.
"I feel like I wouldn't be able to sell anything to anyone if I didn't fully believe in it, or if I didn't use it, or if it wasn't a part of me," Nicole said. "And I wouldn't enjoy being so busy all the time if I wasn't passionate about all of this stuff that we're doing."
"These are all things we've wanted to do for a long time," Brie added. "Nicole and I have always wanted to be winemakers, but we didn't think we would be able to do that until our 50s. But when our friends in Napa came to us and said, 'We really want to do a wine line with you,' how do you say no to that? We love wine, and as with both Birdiebee and the beauty line, we consider these passion projects. When the right partners came to us for each of them, we knew the time was right."
The two have approximately 33 million followers combined on their social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube), so they are easily accessible to their fans and can promote their products with the press of a button. Their business ventures, they hope, feel like another way to connect with them.
The duo started with the WWE in 2007 and, except for a voluntary year-long hiatus beginning in April 2012 (they both have previously noted they were exhausted and needed a break), have been with the company ever since. Both are former Divas Champions, and their popularity and efforts helped spearhead the "Divas Revolution" in 2015-2016 and elevate women wrestlers. In fact, a match featuring the Bellas (against Paige and Emma) during a "WWE Raw" broadcast in 2015 is perhaps the defining moment in that fight for equality.
The match lasted less than two minutes, which drew the ire of fans on social media. The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance almost immediately started to trend, and a legitimate revolution was born. Four years later, women are no longer called "Divas" but "Superstars," just like the men, and some of the biggest names in the sport are women. Just google Becky Lynch if you need further proof of that.
Aside from a storyline with Ronda Rousey that culminated with Nicole taking on the former UFC champion for the Raw title belt at the first-ever all-women's pay-per-view event in October (Rousey took home the belt), the Bellas don't wrestle much these days. Both are focused on their business endeavors, and Brie is "working on" getting pregnant with her second child ("Ughh, you have to stop saying it like that," said Nicole to her sister). They remain official ambassadors for the WWE, appearing at several company-sanctioned events throughout the year.
"I remember the hopes and dreams we had for women when we started 12 years ago," said Nicole. "And to see those things actually happen has been incredible. To be at the forefront of it, to have wished this and then have helped make it happen, there are times where I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh.' I honestly can't believe it."
"As of now, we're not going to be on 'Total Divas' next season," said Brie. "Our lives are shown so much on 'Total Bellas,' and 'Total Divas' is all about the life of women wrestlers, and we're not wrestling right now. So why should we take up a spot from another woman? We want some others to get that opportunity. That's important to us, to help grow someone else's career."
"There seems to be a real disconnect for us because we're not living that road life right now," added Nicole. "And it was exhausting -- we didn't have a break in 2018."
For Nicole, being on reality television meant filming the emotional end of her longtime relationship with fiancé John Cena. And Brie has had to find a balance with motherhood and shooting a reality show. She says she has a strict limit in regards to the number of times cameras are in her home, for the sake of her 21-month-old daughter, Birdie. She and her husband, fellow WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan, don't want their daughter to ever think of filming as a regular thing. Both sisters enjoy sharing their lives with their fans but are looking forward to not having to document every moment all the time. Of course, most of their newfound free time will be spent growing their brands and coming up with their next venture.
With all of that going on, the only thing that's left for the Bellas is world domination, right?
"That's the goal," said Nicole with a laugh.