Her name and stunning looks precede her. From coutoure gowns to tracksuits, knits and onesies, Tika the Iggy is known for donning the cutest looks on everyones’ feeds. The Montreal-based dogfluencer has quickly become one of the Internet’s biggest and most beloved fashion creatives.
Fans and dogs alike pull inspo from her wardrobe, and follow Tika on each of her adventures through her socials. From Paris Fashion Week to the Montreal Pride Parade (affectionately dubbed a gay icon by her fans), and even the Internet’s biggest night last May at the 27th Annual Webby Awards! Her hilarious and adorable TikToks, Reels and shoots snagged her a 2023 People’s Voice win for Social.
We spoke with Thomas Shapiro, her dad and the brilliant mind behind her account, about what inspires Tika’s creativity. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look into how they team up to make audiences everywhere smile.
What sparked the idea for launching Tika the Iggy’s social media presence? When did Tika become “Tika the Iggy”?
She got the page “Tike the Iggy” when she was 4—back in 2016. And I consider Tika one of the OG of pet influencers—back then, there wasn’t really anything like that. But now, everyone sort of has an Instagram account for their dogs. But when we started, I just loved taking photos and videos of my pet dog. Anyone who has a dog knows that you have thousands of photos of your dog on your camera roll. I would post photos of her on my account and people would say, “Oh my god, I love her outfits.” And I didn’t even know the people that were commenting, so I thought” I’m going to make her her own page.” And clearly, people liked it. I didn’t think it would ever get this big. So it’s been really fun to see the progression.
Tika is known for her gorgeous gowns and stunning fashion moments. What inspired her social media identity? What projects or creators did you have on your mood board?
That’s the beautiful thing about having started so long ago. We’ve got to explore every kind of facet of social. Back in 2016, YouTube was a totally different landscape, and Instagram was really just for photos. I started with photos and the captions started off simple, just trying to get photos of her out there. Then I realized, people want to know more about Tika’s personality. I had to make up a personality for her based on how she is in real life. She’s quite friendly. She’s a very sweet dog. But she’s also a bit of a beast, so I thought there is a fun way I can show that online and I think we’ve reached a sweet spot. But her personality developed online.
Where did the inspiration for her adorable French-Canadian accent come from?
I posted a story giving a treat to my dog, and we were all speaking in French and people are like, “Oh do you speak French at home?” And yes, Tika and Kala actually only understand French commands. But obviously, if we want to reach a large audience, we have to do it in English. We tried a few different things at first. But we wanted to be able to do our own story, so we gave her a French-Canadian accent. I wanted her to have a higher-pitched voice but maybe someone who might’ve smoked a bit in her youth-type vibe. So that’s what inspired her voice.
What does the production process look like for Tika’s social media content—from filming and photoshoots to the final posts?
The thing with working with Tika is she’s definitely professional. Anytime I bring her onto any sets, people are always shocked at how amazing and quick she is. And sometimes, on Monday she might be in a great mood and comfortable with content. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday—she might not be. Obviously, I want to respect her comfort. So that comes first. And if I were to film when she wasn’t feeling the vibe, it’s going to translate in the content, so it wouldn’t work anyway. I really have to go by her schedule, which works a majority of the time. But the process—there are two ways to go about it. Usually, we’ll get clothing sent to us from designers and they’ll inspire me to go a certain route. Or I’ll have an idea and I’ll work with a designer to create a certain outfit to go with the storyline. So it’s about half and half each way. Working with her is very quick. A shoot takes maybe 10 to 15 minutes max. The long part is me editing and cropping stuff down, and writing the script. And I always write the script after the fact. I have a few bullet points ahead of time, but I’ll write the script after because you don’t really know what she’s going to do.
What are some of the apps and tools you use to develop social media content?
Another thing working with a dog is, I can’t work inside the app. I have a lot of friends who are TikTokers and they’ll film within the app. But I can’t do that because I want her to look a certain way or I’m waiting for her to turn her head. I have to take a bunch of different takes, so working within the app isn’t very relevant. One app I use a lot is InShot. I find it’s really good for video editing. I use CapCut too and I find that it has more power. But InShot delivers what I need quicker and with a better UI. And for photos, I’ll either use Photoshop or another app called Photoleap. Sometimes I’ll take a photo of her and the lighting will make it look like she has a tear stain under her eye, and I would want to remove that. I’ve done stuff with professional cameras on sets. And it really works best when it’s filmed straight from my iPhone.
What fuels your imagination and creativity in running her social?
I have a Google doc of ideas and I just type them in. And sometimes I’ll do it the next day. Sometimes, I’ll do it a year later. I once wrote, “December 2022. ‘Devil Wears Prada’ coat montage” to reference the scene where Meryl Streep’s character is throwing the coats on her assistants. And I started filming that this morning. So it took 14 months, but sometimes you just need to marinate on something. That’s the process.
I go a lot to what’s going on throughout the year. We have Christmas posts. We have an outfit coming for Lunar New Year. We have something for Diwali. Obviously, for fashion week we’re traveling. That kind of content comes naturally. And there’s also the content where I’ll be filming and she’ll do something that’s not what I thought she would do. But I’ll have a whole different story coming now, because of that one thing she did differently. And I’ll work off that. It’s fun working with an animal because you really don’t know what’s going to happen and she’s so chill. And very food-motivated! It’s great to work with her. Not only that, but I’ll post something, and her fans will comment and that comment—it might actually be a good idea. So, I’ll branch off that and create a new storyline.
It’s sometimes best that way because it’s so organic. I saw one a couple of weeks ago, someone commented, “Tika reminds me of Celine Dion.” But I’ve already done two or three outfits where Tika is dressed in a Celine Dion outfit, and I had another coming up. I bookmarked that comment and came back to it with Tika’s favorite Celine Dion outfit, so it’ll look organic and the algorithm will love it. But it’s a bit premeditated. There’s a fine line between being organic but also strategic.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in social media?
Just start posting. I have friends who make videos and they say they have an idea but that they really don’t want to post it. But the algorithm won’t acknowledge you unless you start posting daily. And I experienced that recently—I only got on YouTube last year. For the first six or seven months of being on YouTube, I think I had 2,000 subscribers; which is pretty small when you’re coming off TikTok with 2 million and 1 million on Instagram. But after six months of posting every single day, the YouTube algorithm was like “Okay, we know you’re the real thing. And we can validate it.” So they started pushing my content, and it helped me gain a few thousand subscribers.
I always tell people to just start posting. You want to be original—everyone’s dog is the cutest. If you’re just posting pictures of your dog being cute, it’s not going to go far. But you’ve got to start somewhere. The best way to find your brand identity is to figure it out as you go. I started to use this account in 2016 and the personality she has today online only became fully-fledged in 2020. It took us three and a half years to get there. I hope people just get started and it’ll all come together.
What does winning a Webby Award mean to you? (or to Tika!)
The Internet is a vast, huge space. And there are so many people doing amazing things so even to be a nominee is such a highlight. Especially as a pet account because there are so many people who do amazing things with their pet accounts. To be in a Top 5 category was awesome. Then, to win the People’s Voice, especially was really cool because I knew the fans had to have shown up. And its impact on that is really awesome.
A cherry on top was getting to go on stage and deliver my 5-Word Speech—that was really huge.
Making Great Social? Friday, February 9th is Your Last Chance to Enter the 28th Annual Webby Awards!
We’ve honored the best of the Internet for nearly three decades, through every phase of digital. This year, we’re celebrating creators who take the Internet a step further, through art, creativity and imagination. When you enter The Webby Awards, you showcase the excellent quality of your work, that you’re ahead of the curve and shaping the Internet’s future.
Why not take the chance to prove that you’re one of the best online? Our Extended Deadline is your last chance. Enter before Friday, February 9th!