So I don’t tell everybully this, but I speak a bit of Chinese. Mandarin to be exact. Basically it all happened before I knew it happened. I was young and impressionable and my mother, a former resident of Shanghai, decided it would be “cute” if I learned survival Chinese “just in case.” Yes, my accent is muddled and I’ve lost a lot of myimage3-2 vocabulary because Rupert, Willis, Meaty and my other buds don’t speak a lick of it—but yeah, I could get by in The PRC if need be.

Which is good because I’d been sitting at my desk scrolling through The Sartorialist (trying to figure out what to wear to an upcoming wedding) when my boss summoned the entire writing staff into his office. Polly the Pekinese strutted by me in a hurry—she always goes in first to get a good spot on the sofa. My pal Larry the Lab sauntered in after and took a seat on the floor. Then Priscilla the Poodle made her grand (and annoying) entrance (before taking up way too much space next to Polly on the sofa). Then the new girl…I forget her name…the Lassie with the glasses who always wears the cardigan…went in next. At the last possible moment, I slid off my chair, waddled inside, and collapsed front and center on the floor and let out a big sigh without even realizing it.

Turns out my boss had a bunch of leads on some international news and needed to divvy up our assignments. I quickly fell asleep only to be woken up by his booming bark: “I’ll take your lack of response as a YES, Bogart. Your flight to Shanghai leaves tonight.”

I’m still a little hazy on how I—Droolitzer award winning journalist—got stuck with the 13 hour flight to one of the muggiest cities in the middle of summer, but I knew image2-3my mom would be thrilled. And I’d heard about the incredible smells the city has to offer. As Polly and Priscilla packed their Prada purses for Paris, I called my mom to ask her for a favor: “I’m in a bit of a hurry, can you do me a solid and pack my duffle? I’m headed to Shanghai—an interview with this super hot designer who’s over there for business…photo shoots and the like.”

She shrieked with delight and told me not to worry for a second—she’d pack me my favorite lamb, bison and peanut butter sandwich for the plane, a Rosetta Stone dictionary, a handful of freshly sharpened pencils, Pepto Bismol, my notepad, breath mints, toothpaste, my passport, a baseball hat and my favorite red high top sneakers. “Don’t you dare walk on those streets without shoes on,” she said sternly.

She met me at the front door, handed me my duffle and walked me to the Uber that was patiently waiting. Of course, the whole time she was spouting off clips of Mandarin 101: “ni hao, xie xie ni, ni hao ma, wo bu xihuan, wo ting bu dong…” I could tell she was a little anxious about me going, but I kissed her goodbye and was off! The flight was breezy. I had some water with my sandwich and then, much like the meeting earlier that day, woke up just as the pilot announced that we’d landed safely and the temperature outside was a million degrees.

Instantly my nose began twitching. The smells were incredible! I hailed a cab and asked him to take me straight to Anfu Road to a little Australian restaurant called Mr. Willis.  It’d been 13 hours since I’d had anything to eat and I wasn’t about to risk this BIG interview with some mystery meat on a stick.image4

In the cab, I Googled “things to say to sound really awesome in front of very important Australian dogs with swag” and “the hippest fashion trends of 2015.” I admit it, I was officially nervous but I tried to remain calm. I’d read the file and the fella I was interviewing defined cool. I wanted to make sure that he knew I was on the level.

As my driver turned right off Changshu Road, I sensed we were getting close. I popped a breath mint in my mouth and looked down at my watch: 5:15pm—right on time. As I stepped out into the fresh-ish air I took a deep breath. The smell of garbage, garlic, petrol and Australian beef lingered in the air. I instantly felt more at ease. I opened the door, walked up the three flights of wooden stairs and stepped inside Mr. Willis. There, sitting all the way in the back corner, next to the window, was the dude I’d flown across the world to meet: Little Black. He was sipping water out of a silver bowl. As I walked over, he lifted his chin ever so slightly. I immediately understood the gesture: “’Sup?”

Bogie: Dude, I feel a little underdressed, but I didn’t want to overdo it and make it seem like I was trying too hard… you know how it goes…  Anyway, you’re reputation precedes you. Tell us a little bit about who you are and how you came to be Little Black.

Little Black:  Firstly, I’ve gotta holla at you my man for holding it down in Cali. I don’t get out here that much anymore so I appreciate you representin’ and doing the brotherhood proud. You’re a true OG and I got nuttin’ but love for ya my man.

image3-3For those who don’t know me I’m guessing you must have been living in North Korea the past decade or so. But that’s ‘aight. Congrats you made it out. So my name is Ami aka Little Black and I’m the CEO of FuzzYard Pet Products. I’m a Miniature Pinscher with a dash of Chihuahua in the mix. What can I say my dad was a playa and he passed his skill set down to me. Some say I’m the Kanye West of the pet industry. I say he’s the Little Black of the music industry. Either way, we’re both pioneers and push the boundaries.

Bogie: You flatter Mr. West and ME for that matter.  For real!  So Lil’ B, can I call you that? You’re a legend in the world of fashion.  Your brand FuzzYard has gained worldwide recognition and you’re sitting front and center at every dogwalk during fashion week in New York, Paris and Milan. How’d you first break into the biz?

Little Black: You know what? It wasn’t easy. Actually it was damn tough and there were plenty of times where I thought about throwing it in and becoming an exotic dancer. True story: Channing wanted me to do a cameo in Magic Mike 2 but then the studios said no as they didn’t want to take the shine off the ‘real’ stars. Whatevs. I digress anyway… So back to it…Yeah we kicked off back in 2003 and it was a roller coaster for the first eight or so years. We were really ahead of the game with our designs and feel and it’s only been the last four or five years people have really taken to us.

Bogie: Dude, you were rad before I was even born! For the record I’ve been a super fan since I was just a pup. Every great designer has a muse. Who’s yours?image2-2

Little Black: Y’all probably thinking I’m trying to score points with the ladies. Umm I don’t need help people. But the truth be told it’s my mum. She is flat out incredible, stunning, stylish, trendsetting and more importantly just the most amazing and encouraging person in my life. I wouldn’t be atop of this throne without her and her shining light. I love you mum!

Bogie: Awwww bro, that was a moment.  Do you have a tissue handy by chance? Correct me if I’m wrong, but FuzzYard started out as a brand specializing in contemporary dog beds, but now it’s become something far bigger with hip clothes, collars and leashes.  Recently-ish you even launched your own cosmetic line of shampoos and conditioners that smell annoyingly wonderful—my mom wants to bathe me far too often now!  What part of the design process interests you most?  And do you get your paws down and dirty or do you leave the grunt work for your people?

Little Black: We actually kicked off with toys and feeding bowls and then followed it up with beds and our spa range and then rolled out other categories over the years including our apparel range. The part I love the most is definitely creating the designs for the beds and the apparel. I do this with my dad. It’s good bonding time for us. Other than that all my peeps do the rest. I’ve got an awesome crew. I would love to help out more but damn there aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s hard enough juggling my women (5 in the rotation as we speak. Don’t hate people. Just appreciate).

IMG_0442Bogie: Oh I don’t hate!  #respect.  Speaking of people.  I know you have a few and surely you put them to work.  Do they have job titles other than Mum and Dad?

Little Black: We’ve got about 20 staff in our Australian office! Including my dad, who is my right hand man and 2IC and normally runs the crew whilst not gallivanting around the globe. My mum doesn’t actually head into HQ as she has her own empires that she runs. The latest being a new revolution in the tanning industry which is set to rock the world in coming months.  A quick shout out for my mums! Go check Fox Tan – That just scored me a double serve of organic chicken and broccoli tonight. Bam!

Bogie: I could use a face tan.  For some reason it always stays so darn white!  Who has been the coolest celebrity and/or hottest model you’ve worked with to date?

Little Black: I started doing a collab with JT, you know Justin Timberlake, but we got into a bit of a dust up. Apparently Jessica Biel has a thing for Min Pins. I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of models over the years. Two of my favorites would have to be my man Sumo. That kid is all swag. And a new up and coming IMG_6817-2star, Ned the Cavoodle. I remember being back stage at a Michael Bublé concert and seeing the girls go crazy for him. Same thing with this young homie, Ned. Damn the girls just swoon over him!

Bogie: Woof yeah my man, Sumo is the illest!  Ned’s name isn’t as sexy as Buble’s, but since he’s not full poodle I’ll check him out. You’re clearly a trendsetter, what can we expect to see in next season’s FuzzYard line that we haven’t already?

Little Black: 2016 is going to see us push the boundaries even further. As much as I love you bro I can’t divulge anymore right now, but just expect BIG things and some of the most poppin’ stuff to drop in the industry since, well… ever!

Bogie: I’m still day dreaming about that denim vest I saw on Sumo when he got swarmed by the paparazzi!  I know you have a photo shoot to hit, but do you have a second for an ultra quick lightening round?

Little Black: Fire away my man!

Bogie: Karl Lagerfeld or Tom Ford?

Little Black: Tom Ford. I actually had a run in with the Lagermister (It’s what those in the biz refer to him as) in Tokyo a few years back and it wasn’t pretty. Put it this image4-2way: I’m definitely not on his Christmas card list anymore.

Bogie: Canadian Tuxedo or Black Tie?

Little Black: Black Tie. Honestly the Canadian Tux or “double denim” as us Aussies refer to it as, generally has me try and scrape my retina clean after seeing anyone rock it. Just wrong on so many levels.

Bogie: Noted!  Ok so Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin?

Little Black: Steve Irwin. The world lost a good one.

Bogie: Mini Schnauzer or Mini Poodle?

Little Black: I don’t understand the question? Is there an issue with both at the same time? The only time it’s been a issue with me was when it was a Great Dane and a Mini Dachshund. Logistically very tough. Got the job done in the end however. As if you even questioned that!

Bogie: Too much information brah, TMI!!!  Long black or Flat white?

Little Black: Soy Latte. That’s just how I roll.Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 6.25.22 AM

Bogie: Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter?

Little Black: F/W for men. S/S for the ladies. If ya know what I mean 😉

Bogie: Uh, yeah man, I sure do!  So… Hipsters or yuppies?

Little Black: Say what now? Damn Bogie you know I don’t discriminate!

Bogie: East or west coast?

Little Black: If I’ve got to choose a coast I got to choose the East.  I live out there. So don’t go there. Oops, sorry, just busted out some Biggie. That’s just too damn tough to answer. It’s like Poodle or Pomeranians? Pros and cons to both. So I’m on the fence with that one.

Bogie: I hear ya, but, for the record, I’d go with a Pom any day of the week. Walk or held?

Little Black: That’s a joke right? Ain’t nobody can hold me back! Ha! I run this mofo city. (My publicist advised I clean up this answer)

Bogie: Men in Black III or Jack Black?

Little Black: With all due respect to the Fresh Prince, one of the few I look up to in Hollywood. I never caught MIB III. And when JB kicked poor Ol’ Baxter off the bridge in Anchorman… Well, need I say more? I’m going to jump in and just holla at my man, Idris Elba aka Stringer Bell aka Man of the Year 2016. That’s right Lil’ Black has spoken. And if you don’t know, now you know. Little Black out. (Drops mic)