FairyTail Pet Care Franchise Story
Co-Founders Ilana Mobley and Kelly Nova talk about the transition from small business owners to innovative franchise founders.
When lifelong friends Ilana Mobley and Kelly Nova launched FairyTail Pet Care in Tampa, Florida in 2015, they knew their fledgling company was going to fill a popular need in the area.
“Kelly and I started FairyTail Pet Care when we were working at a hotel chain. We were at that age where all of our friends were getting married, our clients were getting married, and they were all having the same problem – you're getting married and everyone you normally trust with your pet is attending. And so who's going to watch your dog?” Mobley recalls, adding that she and Nova were the “go-to pet sitters” for all of their friends and family.
Drawing on their experience in the hospitality field and their mutual passion for pets, the entrepreneurial duo set out to provide a unique set of services that no one else was providing at the time: wedding day pet care.
Over the years that followed, Mobley and Nova worked to transform their small startup into a recognizable name in the franchise industry – while bringing their unique services to pet owners around the country.
Meeting the needs of clientele – and their pets
Part of Mobley and Nova’s success relied on the innovative, high-quality services offered by FairyTail Pet Care – something that differentiated the small company from other pet care brands across the country.
“As the first wedding pet care company in the nation – since we created this industry and coined the term – it was something people needed all over. We had couples paying us to travel all over the country,” Mobley says, adding that she and Nova have helped pet owners get married alongside their pets in locations spanning from California to New Jersey.
Offering a range of customizable wedding day services, the FairyTail Pet Care experience starts with a complimentary “meet and greet” where pet sitters meet with couples – and their pets – before the Big Day to create an itinerary tailored to the needs of their furry friends. Unique service options include transporting pets to photo sessions, a day full of exercise, taking part in the wedding ceremony (where allowed), custom “Dog of Honor” videos filmed from the pet’s perspective and more.
FairyTail Pet Care staff also communicate and coordinate with vendors and venue staff to ensure pets’ days go smoothly from start to finish, including working out ceremony policies and insurance details as a licensed, bonded and insured pet-sitting company – something that can save the day when it comes to holding a wedding at an otherwise pet-unfriendly venue.
Taking the leap into franchising
Given its innovative pet care offerings, the success of FairyTail Pet Care is no surprise. According to Mobley, even as similar – and sometimes less expensive – competitors began to pop up in the pet care space, clientele around the country continued to book the small company anyway.
“We knew that our brand was special and that it meant something to people if they were willing to pay top dollar for our services because they knew what [FairyTail Pet Care] meant as the first wedding pet care company,” Mobley says.
In 2017, after months of research, Mobley and Nova began to discuss the idea of franchising their business. The company was growing and the franchising model could be useful for scaling their brand – and expanding their client base.
Despite an initial meeting with an attorney, though, Mobley and Nova remained uncertain about franchising. Without any experience in the franchise industry, the entrepreneurs were hesitant to make the leap – until they came across a blog post online that changed their perspective.
Growing and scaling the right way
“We did kind of like a last-ditch Google search – you know, just kind of scouring through the pages of Google – and came across blog posts from Charles Internicola and the rest of the firm, and we really connected with their method,” Nova says.
Interested in learning more about the process of transforming their small business into a franchised brand, Nova and Mobley scheduled a call with Charles Internicola, a franchise attorney with over 25 years of experience in the industry and the founder of The Internicola Law Firm.
“We realized from the first few minutes on the call with Charles that this was going to be the perfect fit for us,” Nova recalls.
From education and assistance with drafting the brand’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) to the franchise’s operations manual, Mobley and Nova found the help they needed to take their business to the next level alongside a partner they could trust – and turn to – not only for legal advice but franchising expertise.
“We have had such a great experience and are so grateful for the consulting services that [Internicola] offers along with the legal – because having both of those in one place is truly incredible when you're brand new, since there's so many moving pieces,” Mobley says.
From startup entrepreneurs to thriving franchisors
For Nova and Mobley, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome as new franchisors was learning to work with franchisees – a skill they’d never had to develop as small business owners.
“It was a really easy relationship when it was just the two of us making decisions as a business owner. And then, as we've transitioned into franchisors, we've had to learn how to communicate with our franchisees and bring them into the business,” Nova says.
To make the process easier, the business partners focused on finding franchisees that were the perfect fit for FairyTail Pet Care, particularly when it came to aligning with the brand’s values.
“We're looking for somebody that loves animals – a kind of crazy animal person. You definitely have to be that to really be passionate about this job. We're looking for someone who's hard-working, a self-starter – someone who's willing to get out there,” Nova says.
Since the brand’s mission to help pets goes beyond lush destinations in unique locations around the country, the duo also made a point to look for franchisees with a commitment to their local community – and pets in need of forever homes. (To date, FairyTail Pet Care has donated over $20,000 to local animal shelters and included over 1,000 pets in weddings and events.)
“A big part of our brand is our mission, which is to help rescue animals. And so we wanted to make sure that our franchisees align with that mission as well. They’re willing to get out there and volunteer with their local shelters and really make an impact in their community,” Nova says.
Once onboarded, FairyTail Pet Care franchisees can expect to be treated like family and fully supported in developing their businesses – whether they’re working part-time or full-time.
“We recognize that [franchisees] are new business owners. Obviously, they're getting a leg up by starting with an already established brand and having us behind them to help support them, but it is a new business venture for them. And that can be a really exciting time, but it also can be a really scary time. So we want to make sure that we're there for them,” Nova says.
To make sure franchisees feel supported, Nova and Mobley are available by phone, video call, text or email any time a question might pop up. But they’ve also made it easy for franchisees to find answers to their questions on their own through their franchise operations manual, which features educational video content accessible to franchisees 24/7.
FairyTail Pet Care Lands a Deal on Shark Tank
Although Mobley and Nova have carved out a space for themselves in the franchise world, they acknowledge that success wasn’t always easy. For entrepreneurs considering franchising their business, the duo recommends weighing the options and finding the right path for growth on your terms.
At FairyTail Pet Care that meant working with the team of seasoned franchising experts at The Internicola Law Firm to develop a strong franchise development strategy that included positioning the brand as a lifestyle franchise opportunity that offers supplemental income for aspiring franchise buyers and entrepreneurs.
The Internicola team also helped Mobley and Nova develop an organic growth strategy centered around their existing fanbase, as well as being selective and choosing their first handful of franchisees wisely to ensure they were a good fit for the brand’s values and goals. A key part of that plan also included the strategic creation of royalty structures and multi-unit territories to enhance benefits for the entire franchise system.
“We spent a lot of time – years – making the decision [to franchise]. Just make sure that you understand all the different growth avenues out there and that franchising is definitely the fit that makes most sense for you and your business,” Mobley says.
For the team at FairyTale Pet Care, the franchising assistance provided by the team at The Internicola Law Firm paid off in October 2023, when Mobley and Nova appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, a business reality TV show where a group of venture capitalists decide whether to invest in startup brands.
As a result of the duo’s investment pitch, Barbara Ann Corcoran, a successful businesswoman and the show’s co-host, agreed to invest $75,000 in FairyTale Pet Care for a 22% stake in the business. The deal was based on Corcoran’s franchising expertise, coupled with her interest in FairyTale Pet Care’s unique services, which Corcoran said she believed would appeal to entrepreneurs.
Once startup entrepreneurs have chosen to franchise, however, finding a quality franchise attorney and consultancy can make all the difference.
“And then, of course, hire an amazing company like The Internicola Law Firm to make sure you're getting that consulting and legal assistance – because if you don't have a background in franchising, I don't know how anybody could navigate it,” Mobley says.
As for FairyTail Pet Care, the franchisors behind the brand have no plans of slowing down any time soon.
“We definitely want to open up, I'd say, at least 10 to 15 more locations in the next five years. ... And then, of course, we want to make sure that we take our current franchisees and help them grow to their full potential,” Nova says.
Learn more about franchise opportunities with FairyTail Pet Care.