Nicolette Mason is a fashion writer and creative consultant based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As a fashion industry veteran, she was a contributing editor and columnist at Marie Claire for five years and has worked with brands like Barbie, Dove, eBay, Amazon, Nordstrom, and 11 Honoré—particularly in diversity and inclusion initiatives. Formerly, she lived bicoastal between New York and Los Angeles with her pug, Françoise (aka Frankie), who shares a similar personal style.
Did you grow up with dogs?
Not at all! My parents were pretty allergic to animal fur. We had a fish tank, and then we had a couple pairs of lovebirds for a while. It’s funny because both my sister and I have dogs now and our parents love them so much. We’re like, “We missed out on this whole opportunity to have a pet together and grow up with a dog.”
But it’s really sweet to have that as an adult, too, and to be able to take full ownership of that experience, it’s a huge privilege. I can’t imagine ever not having a dog now.
“She’s a size queen and just loves to be around the big dogs.”
How did you know you were a dog person?
I think I’ve always just been an animal person, actually, but there was something about pugs in particular that I’ve always loved. I think they’re so funny. They’re just so sweet, and all they want to do is love you and play, and they have the funniest personalities. It’s hard to explain that to people. They’re like, what do you mean your dog has a sense of humor?
But anyone who’s been around pugs for a long time knows that they’re really funny. They want to make you laugh, and they’re super social.
How did you know Frankie was The One?
It was kind of an accident. She was really tiny when I saw her, and I had a feeling that she was sick ‘cause she was super tiny and super lethargic. Immediately, I took her to the vet. The vet told me, “You can make her comfortable, but don’t get too attached. She has Parvo virus and three different parasites, and she’s probably going to die.”
That was really devastating because, obviously, I was already immediately attached and so in love with her. I medicated her and treated her and gave her around-the-clock care, fed her honey so that she would gain a little bit of weight. And now she’s totally indestructible.
She’s had a handful of near death experiences, and she’s just the most energetic, vivacious pug I’ve ever seen. She’s seven years old, and we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve moved cross-country a couple of times, and she’s my best friend.
How has Frankie changed your lifestyle?
I think that having a dog has made me a lot more patient, for sure. It’s like having a baby in a lot of ways. There’s something else that you’re responsible for that you have to feed and take care of and take outside, and I think just adds a layer of selflessness to a person. And she’s calmed me down a lot. I think that she’s made me a happier person. She’s just the best addition to my life.
Tell us about a day in the life with you and Frankie.
Our weekends are really nice, especially being in Williamsburg. There’s a lot to do outside. We would start with a morning at the farmer’s market. We go to the McCarren Park Farmer’s Market and buy a bunch of produce. The dog park is also there, so we take her to the dog park sometimes. There’s the little dog and the big dog park—and she prefers the big dog park. She’s a size queen and just loves to be around the big dogs.
At this age, she really prefers making friends with the humans in the dog park. My girlfriend and I are sometimes convinced that she would leave us at any point because she’s so comfortable around people. She loves everyone.
We might go to brunch at Cafe Colette and sit outside.. They’re always really sweet to her. She’ll drag us to a couple of places. One of them is PS9, which is a pet supply store on North 9th Street, and everyone who works there is really sweet. They also do rescue events, and I love supporting them as a small, local business.
She also loves our bodega and loves visiting her friend Kasia, who works there. One of the first nights that Frankie and I moved back to New York full-time, we were out really late and we passed our bodega and went around the corner, and Frankie just perked up and realized where she was. She went back and pulled us back and we realized what she was doing, “Oh my God, she needs to go see Kasia.”
She loves going to Catbird. They give her treats, too.
We also love having friends over. I host dinner and drinks, and that’s her favorite thing. She loves to be around people and socialize with everybody, and it suits me because I do, too. I love hosting, I love being with my friends. I’m definitely an extrovert, and I think she’s adopted some of those personality traits from me, too.
Do you ever bring her to work events?
No, but she goes to work with my girlfriend sometimes, which is an office job, and she loves being an office dog.
What was Frankie’s life in Los Angeles?
Pretty similar. Farmer’s market, walking, shopping. I think the one thing that she did more in LA that we don’t get to do as much here is hiking, and it’s really funny to take a pug hiking, but she loves it. She loves climbing on rocks and things like that. She’s such an easy traveler.
Do you have a dog-friendly airline that you recommend?
Delta is really dog friendly. I have never had a bad experience on Delta with my dog. The flight attendants are all really helpful, really nice.
What do you feed Frankie?
I feed her a mixture of two things: Honest Kitchen, which is a grain-free, vegetable-, spinach-based food and then Primal Raw Frozen Mixes. So it’s a little salad and then her protein, and I prepare them that way, too, in her bowl.
But she’s allergic to a lot of things so we’ve had to try a lot of different foods. I have Celiac’s disease, and she’s allergic to wheat also, so we have a pretty similar diet, it’s kind of hilarious.
What are her favorite treats then?
She loves all treats. She loves watermelon and blueberries. Her favorite thing in the world is carrots. She loves vegetables. I’ve never seen a dog love arugula, but she does. She loves salad. It’s similar to what I eat, which is a lot of vegetables.
“So many people talk about Instagram and social media being bad for your mental health, but it’s all about, I think, curating the experience that you have and what kind of media you’re consuming. And so for me, my feed is filled with small dogs. That makes me happy.”
Tell us about some of your favorite dog brands.
She has a Rebel Dawg tag. My friend, Hilary Sloan, has a dog named Ella Bean, a famous little dog. She introduced me to Rebel Dawg. I’ve definitely projected Frankie’s style onto her. I’ve just decided she really loves pink and glitter and rhinestones. Her collar is pink leather and has rhinestones on it.
Of course. On brand.
Yeah. And then I get a lot of little knit toys from PS9. They carry a lot of small independent brands.
Which of the two Glossier x Bark toys is Frankie’s favorite?
Frankie prefers Balmdotcom. She likes squeaky and crinkle toys.
And it’s pink!
And it’s pink. Obviously.
What is the most extravagant thing you do for Frankie?
I love dog clothes. She has a lot of ensembles. She has a pretty diverse and well-rounded wardrobe, and I think it’s pretty extensive. I think her wardrobe is excessive. I have things that I wish list for her. There’s a DL1961 dog vest that I really want. I love their jeans for me, so why not?
Then there’s the Max-Bone parkas. I’m like, Frankie needs that.
How do you keep your beautiful apartment so spotless?
Honestly, I clean a lot! I also got a Roomba, which has actually been really life-changing because it’s really good at picking up all the little bits of dander and fur. I invested in the Dyson Animal [vacuum] a few years ago, and it’s 100 percent worth the money. I also have the Molekule Air Purifier.
Do you have an Instagram strategy that involves Frankie?
No. I’m really a bad influencer. I don’t think about those things, which is not a good thing because it is a source of income for me, but I just can’t be bothered. I had started doing social media and blogging and everything way before I intended it to be a revenue stream—before I knew it would be part of my career. And so, I try to keep things as organic as possible.
In terms of monetizing my platforms, there’s a little bit of strategy there, in that I only work with brands that I organically use and that I am truly already an actual fan of, or that I’m really excited about. There’s strategy on that side. I say no way more than I say yes to projects, but I don’t have a posting strategy. I don’t keep a content calendar. I’m very much a bad content creator in terms of “best practices.”
Social media is changing so rapidly that as soon as people adjust to whatever the best practices are, they change. I just don’t want to spend my life thinking about what’s going to get great engagement.
Have you thought about growing Frankie’s Instagram following?
I don’t really have time! I’ve done a couple of campaigns with Frankie, though, and those have been really fun.
In terms of connecting with other dog moms—kind of. In LA, I was going to the LA pug meet up. Pug Beach Day is my favorite. One of the best days of my life was the first time I went to Pug Beach Day.
I definitely follow a lot of pug accounts. I follow pug hashtags. So many people talk about Instagram and social media being bad for your mental health, but it’s all about, I think, curating the experience that you have and what kind of media you’re consuming. And so for me, my feed is filled with small dogs. That makes me happy.
Photography by Tayler Smith