Each year as the Easter season arrives, I am reminded how truly blessed my family and I have been. For all of us, it is a time of remembrance and celebration, and that is especially true this year as Edible Arrangements® celebrates its 15th anniversary.
In 1986, when I opened my first flower shop as a teenager, and again in 1999, when I opened the first Edible Arrangements, Easter was my first holiday experience as a business owner in the gifting industry. And in each case, it was the Easter season that eased my concerns and reconfirmed my belief that I had made the right decision.
The Easter season of 1999 holds a special place in my heart.
As spring arrived that year, I was excited about a new idea to create artistically designed bouquets made from fresh fruit and I was convinced that they would be an immediate hit. My banker disagreed. When I asked for a loan to help launch Edible Arrangements, he told me with no hesitation that the business had no potential.
But I was convinced I had a good idea, and I also knew that Easter and Mother’s Day — two of the biggest holidays in gifting — were right around the corner. I scraped together the money I needed and, with the help of my family, built a small Edible Arrangements store next to my flower shop in East Haven, Connecticut. During this time I faced another of those moments that force entrepreneurs to take a step back and make sure they are committed to their idea.
While we were preparing for opening day, my father invited a friend to the store to show him what I was doing. The friend was a respected professor at a local university and I was excited to hear his thoughts on the business. I was convinced he was going to tell me what a great idea this was. Instead, I was shocked and a little shaken when he told me he didn’t think the business had any potential and that I was wasting my time and money.
It’s times like these that can place doubt and second thoughts in an entrepreneur’s mind. But I was passionate about my idea, and convinced it would work. Barely two weeks before Easter, I opened Edible Arrangements.
Marketing funds were limited, so I created simple flyers to hand out to customers of my flower shop, friends and anyone else I came across. I was so convinced they would love the arrangements that I promised each customer that if they didn’t “WOW” the recipient, I would give them a complete refund.
That first Easter I received 28 orders. My family and I worked all day and into the night to create the arrangements and make sure they were perfect. The next day, as they were delivered, the phone began to ring. Typically, in the gifting industry, when you get a call following a delivery it is a complaint that “the flowers aren’t fresh,” “they didn’t look like they did in the picture,” or a similar issue.
Not this time. Each time the phone rang it was a customer calling to say, “WOW.” Their friends or spouses who received the arrangements were excited and wanted to know where they had found such a creative gift. That Easter convinced me that Edible Arrangements would be successful.
At the time, I had no idea that the concept of a business selling fresh fruit arrangements would create opportunities for hundreds of passionate franchisees around the world to pursue their dreams.
I had no idea, when we received those first 28 orders, that 15 years later we would be preparing to fill more than 120,000 orders for another Easter weekend.
That’s why this year, as every year, I pause to think back to those early days and remind myself that Easter truly is a blessed holiday.