Every year as Easter approaches I pause to think back and remember where this all started, and every year I’m taken back to memories of two special Easter seasons. That’s because Easter is where the story of my entrepreneurial journey as well as the start of Edible Arrangements really began.
In both cases, while I was intimidated by the challenge that starting new businesses presented, each time it reconfirmed my belief in myself and that I was making the right decisions.
My first business adventure, a flower store, was launched in 1986 began during the Easter season. Thirteen years later, Edible Arrangements had its primary launch during Easter, as well. As I have recounted before, the idea to create creatively designed fresh cut fruit arrangements as a gifting option had come to life as spring arrived in 1999. I was so excited about the product and really felt like it would offer something to customers that they had never seen before. I knew it would deliver a WOW experience!
My eager attitude dimmed slightly when my banker disagreed that my business would be a hit. When I asked for a loan to get the business off the ground, I was met with heavy hesitation and told that my idea had no potential. However, armed with what I thought was a great idea and two of the largest gifting holidays rapidly approaching (Easter and Mother’s Day) I knew I needed to move quickly.
I was able to find the money needed to get the first Edible Arrangements open right next to my East Haven flower shop. During this time, however, I faced yet 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 was convinced it would work. So I continued to move forward and 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 their gift 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,” “the arrangement didn’t look like it 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 was when I became convinced that Edible Arrangements would be successful.
At the time I had no idea that Edible Arrangements would grow into the global chain it is today and would create opportunities for hundreds of passionate franchisees to pursue their dreams. But from those first 28 orders to now preparing to fill more than 120,000 for another Easter weekend, I’m so happy and humbled that it has.