"Every month, we have a fear of going out of business," Cota said. Last season, "I was borrowing money from my partner, and we were borrowing money from our sisters and our siblings, and all of my wedding fund, everything went into that show ... and if we didn't see a return on this then we're done. So luckily, we succeeded that season, and hopefully this season we [will] find the same return on our investment."
Two days until show time, Cota set his focus on figuring out what each model would wear on the runway and making sure all 20 of them looked perfect. Everything had to be individually fitted.
Nearby was Kelly Cutrone, helping Cota organize the seating chart and get pumped for the show. Best known as the tough-as-nails judge on "America's Next Top Model," Cutrone handles publicity for SKINGRAFT and it was her job to make sure the clothing line made a big splash.
"There's about 12 to 50 people who really make a difference, so my focus is on those 12 to 50 people," she said. "I don't give a f--- about the other kids who come in black leather."
On show day, it was controlled chaos. Cota was backstage at the big tent, running around as a small army of artists meticulously attended to the models' hair, make-up, nails and wardrobe.
"All day I was a weirdo," Cota said. "I couldn't talk to anyone. I was overwhelmed and butterflies in my stomach, things I don't usually experience but I was realizing the importance of tonight for the first time."
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the crowd began to fill the tent. Years of work, months of planning, all led up to this -- Cota's big moment had finally arrived.
Then, about 7 minutes later, the show was over.
But after it ended, an overjoyed Cota ran backstage to greet his models, jumping and screaming with excitement. Congratulations were flung all around, models gathered to snap selfies and group shots. Basking in the exhilaration of the moment, Cota was already thinking about the next step.
"I'll never feel like we've made it," he said, laughing. "I feel like if you say that, you stop trying ... but I think that we'll never make it. We will, hopefully, get close."