jojo

Bitch New York: Doggy Style

I never thought in a million years that I’d be that person. You know, the chick with

the too-cute dressed-up ankle-biter dog. Ugh!

 

My family had rugged, active working dogs growing up,

and even with allergies I acquired later on in life, I was always more of a cat

person really. Then I met JoJo. Now I’m the unabashedly proud owner of a three-month

old Yorkshire Terrier, and yeah… I’m that

person.

 

I couldn’t help myself – I had to get JoJo a

wardrobe! In my quest to find the right couture, I was running into dead end. I

found a bunch of frilly, foo-foo stuff my grandma probably would have sewn for

him. No disrespect, my Grandma was a helluva seamstress, but let’s keep it

real. My dog lives in the heart of Harlem, I’m a Hip-Hop head, and I can’t have

my studly dog wearing pink bows and frilly dresses (even if he only weighs 3.1

pounds). Besides, pink is so 2003 in Harlem fashion!

 

Any of you with any type of swagger and pride in

your pet understand my pain here. You wouldn’t want your pitbull Roscoe sporting

a tutu would you?

 

By chance, I stumbled upon BitchNewYork.com – a site

that has more doggy bling and Hip-Hop inspired dog couture than I could even

image. I won’t pretend that it’s for everyone – it’s called “couture” for a

reason. Specialized and name brand clothing, beds, furniture, collars,

carriers, grooming products can cost a pretty penny, but I figure if I can blow

money on sneakers like I do, my dog can look good too!

 

Bitch New York President Stacy Braverman (also

known as Phoenix) took some time to talk to us about the concepts behind the

company, the high demand for Hip-Hop friendly accessories, and even some

sensitive subjects like muzzling and dog fighting.

 

AllHipHop.com: When did you start your company,

and what inspired you to get into the doggy couture business?

 

Stacy Braverman: I started researching the market

in 2004. I had just gotten my first small dog, and was very excited to be able

to dress her up and take her out. The first thing I wanted to do was bling out

her collar with her name, Lola. I had such a hard time finding really nice

collars and clothing that I decided to make it myself.

 

It didn’t take me long to see that manufacturing

was not for me, so I decided to look into creating my own website. It took me

over a year to put together what I thought was the best of the best in doggie

couture. I launched the site in the late summer of ’06, and the rest is Bitch

New York history!

 

AllHipHop.com: You carry a lot of Hip-Hop friendly

clothing for dogs, more so than any other retail outlets. Did you go after that

market intentionally?

 

Stacy: I didn’t actually pick the market as much

as I just tried to choose the products that appealed to me. It just so happens

that Hip-Hop must be my style! I think that part of the target market was to be

celebrities, and many of them are Hip-Hop stars. Those are the people who will

go over the top for their animals. So that market is just a perfect fit for me.

 

AllHipHop.com: We know that pitbulls and other

large breeds are very popular within the Hip-Hop community. Do you have [more]

people buying the clothing/bling for little dogs? What is the trend you see?

 

Stacy: Yes, definitely. Most people don’t even

know that there is clothing for big dogs as well. We have a section of the

website dedicated to big dog sizes just for that reason. The small dogs really

need the clothing more for comfort in the colder weather, so if you are going

to buy a t-shirt for your dog, why not pick something that makes a statement?

The rhinestone skull and crossbones was the trend of the season. Everything

from charms to jackets had some version of that design, even for girls. Bling

is always in – diamonds never go out of style!

 

AllHipHop.com: It’s been said that wearing dog

couture can result in self esteem boosts in puppies. Do you agree with that?

 

Stacy: My second dog is named Winston. He

immediately became a prince. He is the alpha male in the pack. He is the one

who loves to get dressed out of all my dogs. So maybe it is a self esteem

boost. Generally, when people have a little dog, they tend to take it out with

them more. Logically, that is when the dog would be dressed. I think that they

soon realize that clothes mean time out of the house and time spent alone with

mommy or daddy. So maybe that is the reason he stands at his armoire and taps

his foot.

 

AllHipHop.com: I see a horrific amount of people

in New York using either spiked collars (which dig into the dog’s skin) or

regular collars/harnasses (the dogs drag the owner). Can you speak on the

importance of finding the right collar for your dog?

 

Stacy: Honestly, I just don’t like the look of

those spiked collars and could never use one. I am told that the premise is

that a mild pressure is distributed evenly around the neck so there is no pain

or injury. They are supposed to be very effective for dogs that have a thick

neck or who are very powerful. However, this should not be used for a dog that

pulls or lunges.

 

With the traditional choke collar, there is

actually more of a chance of choking your dog and causing throat and neck

injuries. I think that the best method is to hire an experienced trainer to get

your dog used to the training process, and teach you how to effectively handle your dog on a leash.

 

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about muzzling a

dog for any reason?

 

Stacy: I think that there is a time and a place

for everything.The safety of the people around you has to be of utmost

importance. There are dogs that will bite if they perceive danger and there may

be times that dogs need to be muzzled (like at the vet!).

 

The problem with all of these training tools

(muzzles, choke collars) is misuse by owners. I really believe that dogs need

to be trained. They need to be taught right from wrong and what you expect from

them in certain situations. Dogs that are trained will generally not need any

of these devices except in an emergency.

 

AllHipHop.com: Dog fighting has been in the news

quite a bit these days. Although it’s ages old and there are a lot of people

who do it, there has been a lot of media association with Hip-Hop and sports

figures lately. What are your thoughts on the recent situations with Michael

Vick, DMX, Roy Jones, etc? Do you think they are being made examples of by the

justice system and/or media?

 

Stacy: In the U.S., dogfighting is considered a

felony in every state except Wyoming and Idaho. I think that celebrities and

sports figures have to be very careful about how they conduct their lives. They

are in the public eye, and are very often the role models for our children.

 

I have five dogs, and sometimes two of them will

get into a fight over a dog bone and really get into it. I tell my children to

stay away from them when it happens, but I will risk my own safety to stop it

because it is heartbreaking. I can’t begin to imagine anyone actually staging

that as an event to bet money on or to view for pleasure.

 

AllHipHop.com: On a lighter note, what are your

thoughts on people dying their dog’s fur or painting their nails as a fashion

statement? Is dying a dog’s fur very safe for them?

 

Stacy: I go to trade shows for the Pet Product

Industry all the time, and there are always dogs walking around with their fur

dyed. This is done with special dye that is non-toxic and made specifically for

dogs. Do not ever use human hair dye on your dog. Pet Esthe has a line of fur

dye and nail polish for dogs.

 

I think that the same theory would apply to this

as for the clothes…if you spend time with your dog, whether you are taking

him for a walk or polishing her nails, your dog is happy. As long as it is safe

for the dog, no harm done in a little color if it makes you and your dog happy.

 

AllHipHop.com: Are there any particular breeds

more in need of extra clothing over their fur when it’s cold out? What are the

best pieces of clothing to actually keep your dog warm without making them

uncomfortable?

 

Stacy: “Small

dogs and delicate breeds with thin single coats may need additional protection

from the winter rain and cold.” That is straight from a book written

by a vet. I think that a nice sweater or jacket is staple in a doggie armoire.

If you walk your dog and it is raining, a raincoat will keep the dog dry and

comfortable. Booties are also helpful if the dog is walking in the street to

protect their paws from “snow melt” and general debris. I carry my

dogs, but they still wear something to keep them warm and I gauge it by the

temperature. Something with a hood helps when it is windy or chilly and it

looks cute too.

 

AllHipHop.com: What are some of the best selling

items you’ve had for the Hip-Hop dog?

 

Stacy: Bling is the big favorite. It is on

everything from hanging collar charms to custom made dog beds by Urban Bone

that we can “bling out” as little or as much as you like. Like I said

earlier, the skull and crossbone designs are a hit. The t-shirts that have

sayings like “I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” are also a

favorite.

 

We sell products by Ed Hardy whose signature is tattoo

inspired designs. Those types of designs are done on beds and clothing too.

Personalized dog collars with names like “Snoop Dog” or

“Bitch” and “Stud” in crystals are always the rage.

 

AllHipHop.com: What are some of your personal

favorite items right now?

 

Stacy: I just got a line of dog leashes that are

made from Genuine Brass Knuckles and covered in Swarovski crystals. I got one,

and I think that it’s going to be the hit of the dog park – if not “the

talk of the town.”

 

We also have the greatest designer collars from

Paris that are so unique, and a lot of them have that Hip-Hop edginess that I

love! We even have a new line of safety collars that flash neon patterns in the

dark that are best I’ve seen. We do a lot of custom clothing work, so if you

want it and you don’t see it – we can make it – as long as you’re willing to

pay for it!

 

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