Darlene Deberry always wanted to own her own business. She often dreamed of it, but was never sure how to make her dream a reality.
Working as a portfolio manager for a micro loan enterprise program in North Carolina, Darlene remembers that as she would visit new businesses she found herself wanting to start her own.
“But I didn’t know how to start, where to begin or what type of business I would like to own,” she told me. “I just knew I had that entrepreneurial spirit and I wanted to grow something that was my own and create my own destiny. ”
On a trip to Brooklyn in 2005, Darlene walked by an Edible Arrangements store. She stopped, struck by what she saw.
“It was so beautiful and eye-catching—the store and the product,” she said. “It just made me feel good.”
As the months wore on, Darlene said she couldn’t stop thinking about the Edible Arrangements store.
Months later she came across an ad for Edible Arrangements franchise opportunities in Working Mother magazine. Still struck by the Edible Arrangements store she saw in Brooklyn, she decided to call and learn a little more.
“The staff at Edible Arrangements was most helpful in helping me to decide that this was the right fit and time for me to start a business,” Darlene told me.
She decided to take a leap of faith and join the Edible Brand.
“It was exciting and challenging at the same time,” Darlene said. “It was challenging getting all the pieces coordinated, like finding a good location and learning about the local marketplace.”
The Edible Arrangements corporate helped her find a great location and move through the process of opening a business.
Finally, in 2006, Darlene’s dream of becoming a small business owner came true when she opened her first store.
“I love Edible Arrangements!” she told me. ”No matter what the occasion, people are always excited to receive an arrangement or dipped fruit.”
Darlene will tell you that one secret to her store’s success is that she empowers and invests in her employees. Darlene and her husband and business partner David provide their employees with health care and 401k plans. Even part time employees are eligible for paid leave and sick time.
The result, she says, is that she is able to keep good employees, and that “makes my store stronger because it adds so much value to the business.”
Darlene and David are both originally from NYC and very active in their community, serving as volunteers and teaching financial literacy. They also teach bible study and Darlene is well-known as a hostess extraordinaire and famous for her family get-togethers.
Through their Edible Arrangements store, they frequently support local food drives, provide help for cancer and leukemia patients as well as recreational activities for children.
In November, Darlene and David will open their second Edible Arrangements store, proving that dreams do, indeed, come true. Often, more than once!