Exactly a week ago, I was sitting on the patio of Sauvage, a trendy Greenpoint eatery, awaiting the arrival of an influencer with whom I’d be having drinks: a sentence as cliché in theory as it is in practice. Fast forward to the new era of social distancing and Sauvage, along with every other restaurant in New York, is now under indefinite mandatory closure. In times of uncertainty, we tend to look for comfort in humour, and, in the age of the internet, there is no shortage of entertainment. If there’s any internet persona that brings joy, even in the most precarious of circumstances, it’s Boobie Billie.
Blissfully unaware of the distance between myself and the next person, I contemplated the scope of questions that were within reason to ask an Instagram style influencer: Is the mini-bag trend overdone? What’s the appeal of tiny sunglasses? How do you get your hair so silky? The concept of struggling to find commonalities over a meal is something that, at the time, plagued me, and now feels trivial — but let's get back to Boobie Billie. She can best be described as a petite, long-legged tawny blonde with quiet confidence and a great sense of humour, which is reflected in her topical and joy-inspiring posts. Upon arrival (she came with her team in tow), we exchange greetings and I size up my subject. She is just how she appears pictures, but even more enchanting. I'm here to soak up the magic of Boobie, who is a dog. A six-pound Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua mix.
I had followed Boobie’s account for some time before our meeting and had come across her page when a friend shared one of Boobie’s posts with me on Instagram, writing, “can u BELIEVE this?” The picture was of Boobie, wrapped in a hand towel (the appropriate size for her bantam frame) with her (nonexistent) hair folded into a white washcloth that sat atop her head. I have always found that Boobie has been able to take a ubiquitous pose, bag, or trend and make it her own. The style illustrated in each post is her own; Boobie’s internet person isn’t a guise — as is the case with some influencers who use their accounts to achieve a life other than their own or explore a different persona. Donning a purple waffle knit long-sleeve knit with an unbuttoned pink and blue colour-blocked collared shirt, Boobie IRL is exactly as she appears online. Although she’s achieved micro icon status, hinting at a few partnerships in the works, and currently clocking in at 55k followers on Instagram, the self-aware nature of the Boobie brand has remained unaffected by this newfound stardom. With the present uncertainty that we’re all facing, I can’t think of a better mini escape than falling down a 60-second digital rabbit hole of a self-care practising, handbag-collecting, positive affirmation-giving dog, like Boobie Billie.
What do you think your role as an influencer should be right now?
For me, it's v important to remind people of the small things they can do to make this situation a little better. Yeah, that means showing myself staying inside, but it also means being kind to your bbs and spreading happiness (not the virus).
How can your little corner of Instagram bring joy to people right now?
The internet and especially Insta is v stressful right now. There's a lot of anxiety. I want my bbs to feel like the gorgina angels that they are, even when things are scary.
What was the initial intention behind the account?
The instantaneous gratification of social. I don't have to ask for permission.
What do you think is your appeal?
It's funny because I take all the tropes [of influencers] and just make light of them in this non-offensive fun way. People don't compare themselves to me — other than jokingly. They don't know if they want to be me, pet me, hold me, or wear what I'm wearing. It's like, bbs, do you want to take me on a walk or do you want to take me out to dinner?
What’s your secret to finding the perfectly proportioned bag? Do designers custom make them for you?
It's a great time to be a 'micro' influencer because of all the mini bags that are popular right now. You know that tiny Jacquemus bag — it's a regular-sized bag for me. It's a great happy accident.
How did you earn the name Boobie?
It's just a pet name. My birth name is Billie. It's worked out perfectly because I call everybody ‘bb,’ which is Boobie Billie if you're looking for an Easter egg that nobody cares about but me. Rule number one of a hashtag: make sure no one gets it until you have to lay it out for them. A lot of people were like, but that's not your name, it's Billie, but Boobie is my persona. It's my identity. It's just who I am.
What's the process behind each post?
I wake up on Saturday morning, go for a coffee run and discuss the photoshoot with my team. Then I go back home, put on my outfit, and play a little tune (Pollen, the playlist on Spotify is vibey). Then I start hitting the angles. It's a weekly routine.
What do you think has fuelled your follower growth over the past few months?
Consistency. If you enjoy doing it, you'll just keep doing it. For the longest time, it was a friends-and-family account. The first photo I posted was in the lilac jumpsuit with the Nike Cortez sneakers and a friend actually had printed it out and put it in her office, which was kind of weird, but cool. Little things like that made me feel like it was worth pursuing and actually spending time on each week.
What advice would you give to someone getting started as an influencer?
Just have fun. I basically followed a playbook, but did it my way. I feel like the general advice would be to find something different and do it well.
Can you explain how you’ve embraced that advice?
So many of the brands that I like have this sense of humour to them. Fashion just isn't that serious to me and you can have really high brow style mixed with like, no brows at all. Like Susan Alexandra her adult Bat Mitzah-themed fashion show. I love that. That's such a great brand move. Instead of being like, here are our models, here's our clothing, what if we could do stuff that's more fun in general? I think what I’m doing — the styling, cosy outfits, layering, pattern clashing, and colour blocking — is like what everyone is doing, but with this added element of fun because I'm a dog. It's ridiculous. There are so many great dog influencers, but a lot of the time they err on the side of goofy meme speak or talking like little babies. I'm more refined and am trying to avoid dog puns. As I'm saying that, I'm now doing a mental audit of everything I've ever written, like, ‘have I done it?’
Do you have any favourite self-care rituals?
I love massages. I'm a little self-conscious of my under-eye bags. I'm one and a half and I have bags under my eyes already. I'm sensitive about my overactive tear ducts so I like to indulge in a nice under eye cream. I'll bring it down to my neck as well.
What is your relationship with John Slattery?
We used to be roommates. I’ll leave it there.
Do you have a favourite snack?
I like strawberries and sweet potatoes. My team keeps white cheddar popcorn in our house which is never offered to me but I love to find little bits.
How do you deal with the haters?
When I recently did the Mejuri partnership, everyone was like ‘Get it, girl.’ Nobody was mad that it was sponsored. Nobody rolled their eyes any more than they normally do when influencers do a sponsored post. I give myself permission to do some gratuitous things like that, and enjoy it.
Would you consider collaborating with a ‘dog’ brand?
I spend a lot of time walking the line between a dog-influencer and an influencer-influencer. A lot of dog brands have reached out to me. I worry that as soon as I start posing with a dog carrier or dog food, then it's like, ‘She's a dog doing dog stuff.’
Who do you look up to?
Donté Colley. His fashion sense is amazing, there's a sense of humour, it's all about positivity. I think people are just craving that right now. He has amazing aesthetics and that's what people want: someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously. Someone who is having fun. I think it's that positivity that's like ‘You can do whatever you want.’ It's like, ‘Wear your power trench, bb, and wear your colour block until you frickin' drop.’ I want people to be that dog that's empowering people to take more risks in fashion.