TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A sweet gift is giving a new local business owner who honed her craft during the coronavirus pandemic a big boost.
Malayna Torano created the dog walking and pet sitting business “Dog Mom’s” back in November.
She changed gears from being a sales recruiter, something she had done for five years, to follow her passion to care for animals. She said the coronavirus pandemic made her question if her office job was something she saw herself doing long term.
Torano said she and her husband were married in Oct. 2020 and, while planning for their wedding, she was still brainstorming her career transition, all while worrying about their pets.
“We were also, during planning the wedding, wondering, ‘who’s going to watch our dogs when all of our family and friends we trust will be at the wedding?’ We never had done boarding before. One of our huskies, he gets a lot of anxiety being in a strange place,” she explained. “So I knew that wasn’t an option. So I chose a pet sitter that was referred to me from a friend and when she came by, I thought, ‘you know what, this is something that I would love to do.'”
Torano started “Dog Mom’s” as the pandemic continued to rage on.
She said the business began rolling in via word of mouth and she was working for friends of friends.
Things have thankfully started looking up as more people begin to travel on weekends and get back into the office, but part of that business uptick may be due to a gift from her husband for Valentine’s Day.
Ignacio Torano set the bar high last Valentine’s Day.
He said he bought his now-wife between 400 and 500 roses and had them delivered to her office. Then, they delivered them to residents in the assisted living facilities Malayna would visit through a non-profit with one of her dogs.
“Since the beginning of our relationship she’s been in love with animals, in love with dogs. My first gift to her for her birthday was our current husky that we have,” Ignacio said.
As his wife was looking to grow her business, he looked to step up his Valentine’s Day game, outside of a florist or jewelry store.
“I said, ‘okay, if I’m going to spend this type of money, what’s something that’s a little bit more exciting and has a little bit more of a flair to it?’ And then it hit me,” he said. “She had just finished her boot camp workshop that she was doing for her business. She was really just [excited] about the launch and I thought, ‘I think a billboard supporting her business would be an Ignacio-type of gift.'”
He purchased the billboard, which features a large photo of Malayna and one of their huskies, just off Henderson Boulevard in South Tampa.
Ignacio told Malayna they had to drive to see her gift, and she said her mind was “racing” trying to figure out what it could be.
“I thought if he was doing something for my business, I don’t know what I thought, but I definitely didn’t think billboard. I thought maybe he got me some yard signs, maybe something like that,” she said. “But then we get there and I just see this giant white billboard of my face and one of our huskies on it. And I was like, ‘oh my gosh!'”
“I don’t think she was expecting to see her face that big on a billboard. I think it was great actually going with her to go see it,” her husband explained. “I think she teared up a little bit and she was really happy just to see her face on a billboard. It’s something she said she never thought in her life she would ever see.”
As Torano keeps taking in new and returning clients, she said she is continuing to wear a mask and washing things in a client’s home she comes in contact with. She is in contact with her customers to make them feel safe that she is in their home.
If you’re interested in Torano’s dog walking and pet sitting services, she is hosting a “Yappy Hour” at Wine and Wood in South Tampa on Wednesday for the community to meet her crew.