I have written many times about my mother and the influence she had on my life and career as an entrepreneur. In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share more about the important lessons she taught me at an early age.
My mother was a very positive person. From the time I started my first newspaper route, to working at a fast food chain, to opening a flower shop, to the creation of Edible Arrangements, she was always encouraging me.
“Follow your instincts,” she would tell me when I was uncertain about a decision that needed to be made. “You know best.”
This was especially true during the early days of Edible Arrangements when I was continually being told why the concept wouldn’t work, even if the person offering the advice had no experience in the flower or gifting industry. Often they would tell me that if it was such a good idea, someone else would already be doing it.
I could never understand why someone who knew less about my business than I did, could be so negative and so certain that the idea wouldn’t work.
As I have described before, I knew in my heart that I had a winning idea. I knew that my experience running flower shops had given me great insight into my customers and their needs. And in those times when I doubted myself and my idea the most, it was often my mother who would provide the spark of inspiration to get me going again.
“Honey,” she would say, “you know your customers better than anyone else. If you believe your idea will work, don’t let anyone else get in the way of your dream.”
This, of course, from a woman who knew a lot about dreams. After all, she and my father brought their young family to a new country where they knew no one and hardly understood the language or the customs. That, however, was not going to stand in the way of her dream of providing her children with opportunities only available in America.
Today, when I meet someone who has a passion and knows more about their business than I do, I feel it’s better to say a kind word than be negative. I’ll often think of what my mother would say and tell them something like, “I admire your passion and drive, good luck.” Or, I might tell them be careful and be sure think about this or that potential problem.
As my mother would always remind me, just because someone has never done it, is no reason to think it can’t be done.
When my mother passed away in 2005, my brother and I started the Farid Foundation in her memory. We built a school in her name, the Salma K. Farid Academy in Hamden, Connecticut. And in Sahiwal, Pakistan, where she is buried, we also opened a hospital, which sees about 4,000 patients a month and provides free medicine and healthcare, mostly to women and children.
It was our way of honoring our mother, but also serves as a reminder that often, when you don’t know where to turn, your mother is the one person you can always count on.
When I opened my very first flower shop while still in high school, my mother would often help me in the store and I would give her $50 a week. Later, I had an opportunity to buy a building for our second Edible Arrangements location, but I needed $40,000 more than I had. It turns out that my mother had saved the money I gave her over the years and she handed it back to me to purchase the building. She asked only that I give her $20,000 for my sister’s wedding and do something in her name someday.
I hope you all have similar memories of your mothers, and will take time to truly honor them this weekend on their special day.