Sarasota, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area entrepreneur is the 2017 Woman of Influence in the pet industry, quite an accomplishment considering she started her business just five years ago, out of her kitchen. Kelly Ison has managed to make a niche for herself in an industry that earns more than $67 million a year.
Kelly and her husband Robert toyed with the idea of starting a business. Both worked in corporate jobs, but were interested in venturing out on their own.
“We were always looking to do something,” says Kelly. “We just didn’t know what that something was.”
Then Abbey came along. The Westie puppy stole their hearts, and change their lives. Wanting only the best for their new fur child, and knowing that Westies are prone to some allergies, Kelly began experimenting with making all-natural treats for Abbey, minus the ingredients that could make her allergies flare up. The treats were a hit – with Abbey, anyway. Then, Kelly began testing new recipes, adding the “super-food” chia seeds and other ingredients into basic cookie recipes.
“My husband was behind me saying, ‘you can do this! This is a great business!’,” Kelly says.
Einstein Pets was founded in 2012. Kelly and Robert spent months developing a business plan. Kelly experimented with cookie recipes she’d send to family and friends, to try out with their pups, and Robert worked to develop logos and packaging. When they were paw-sitive they had a formula for success, the couple – and Abbey, of course – took a road trip up the East Coast, visiting boutique pet shops that they felt Einstein Pets would best fit in to.
“We realized when the shops placed their order as soon as we got back home, that we had a business,” says Kelly.
Five years later, Einstein Pets has two production facilities – one in the Midwest, and one in the Northeast, a distributor in the UK, and a warehouse in Sarasota. They hope to expand and hire new employees by the end of the year. And their private-label business, in which they produce treats that are then packaged for individual businesses, is growing.
However their home remains the corporate office, and their treats are still made using all-natural ingredients with the philosophy, ‘if you can eat it, your dog can eat it.’