They’re an unusual sight together — a rap star/actor in street clothes and a petite blonde woman in professional dress, sniffing vial after vial of liquid.
In the midst of the huge and noisy expo hall, Antwan Andre Patton, aka Big Boi, and Bobbi Panter are conducting business like two old friends, paying no mind to the gawkers like me waiting to greet them. They’re too busy debating whether cucumber is a good scent for their new grooming product lines, Big Boi and Bobbi Dog Shampoo and Big & Bobbi Dog Shampoo.
“This is so fun,” Panter said. “I’ll be thinking of something, and all of a sudden he’ll say it before I’ve got a chance to tell him, and he’s thinking the same thing and vice versa.”
As a sort of informal introduction, I mention that cucumber is a refreshing scent, good for a dog whose odor is less than fresh.
That’s why Big Boi, one-half of the Grammy-winning duo Outkast, got into the shampoo-making business, after all. He wanted a product that would be good for dogs, with a scent that would last for days. “I have two dogs, Rottweilers, in my house that get groomed on Thursdays, and on Saturdays they go back to smelling like a dog again,” he said during our interview.
Big Boi’s brother James, who runs the rapper’s Georgia kennel, turned him on to Bobbi Panter, a businesswoman who came up with her dog shampoo line to help a pup who needed something tear free and helpful for dry skin. “I invited Bobbi to my studio on the day she came to Atlanta,” Big Boi said. “And we met, and we just talked about our love of dogs.”
Big Boi, who was raised with hunting dogs, breeds Pit Bulls, English Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs at Pitfall Kennels. “When I went there, I didn’t know what to expect,” Panter said. “And it was just amazing. Their love of their dogs is outstanding.”
The new shampoos contain no sodium chloride (table salt). The chemical is often used to thicken pet shampoos, but the downside is that salt strips the skin of needed oils. Essential oils replace the problematic ingredient. “You can use ours every day if you wanted to,” Panter said. “It’s just oils that go into the skin, very gentle.”
The Big & Bobbi shampoo line is more economical in price, with less of the essential oils. The Big Boi and Bobbi line has a higher concentration of essential oils, which can be good for dogs with skin issues. The dog shampoos will be in stores this July.
In addition to collaborating with Panter on the products, Big Boi said he showed her the gentler side of bully breeds. “When we did the photo shoot with the Pit Bull and I had Big Junior, she thought Big Junior was going to eat her Shih Tzus,” he said.
“Oh man, I was so scared,” Panter recalled.
“That’s the thing,” Big Boi said. “We’re trying to give the breed a better name than it already has. So by the end of the day, Big Junior was going to the cage, checking on Bibi and Cici. He’s got the temperament of a house cat.”
A hands-on breeder of over 20 years, the rapper loves the temperament of bully breeds and the variation of colors. “They’re just all-around great dogs,” he said. “Like teddy bears.”
Big Boi hopes to use the shampoo lines to do more of that bully breed advocacy. “It’s good to kind of bring those worlds together to promote the betterment of the breed,” he said. “And make your dog smell good at the same time.”