Sadly, hardly a day goes by when there is not a story about the plight of refugees trying to escape the horrors of conflict in some part of the world. The stories of desperation and fear will tear at your heart, making you want to find some way to help.
As an entrepreneur, I am always interested in how others decided to take the leap and become the owner of a business. Because Edible Arrangements has so many successful franchisees, there is never a shortage of interesting stories. And I often find that more than anything, it was a decision based on a necessity.
Take Robin, for example.
Like many, Robin had always wanted to own her own business, especially a restaurant. Her degree, however, was in medical office administration and she spent a good portion of her career in the healthcare industry.
In 2004, she was running a non-profit homecare agency when funding was cut and the board of directors decided to close the company.
“At that point, I started looking into opening my own business,” Robin told me. “I was tired of relying on others for my paycheck.”
She looked at franchises in areas ranging from homecare to donuts. Then she was told about Edible Arrangements and decided to look into the opportunity.
Within a year Robin was opening her first store in Manchester, NH. Later, she had an opportunity to take over the Concord store and decided to go for it.
Robin, who has four children and three grandchildren, has lived in New Hampshire since opening her first store and she is not all work and no play. Her interests include walking, health and wellness, furniture restoration, decorating, word puzzles, reading and wine.
She also started a program a few years ago where she visits schools to talk to children about healthy eating.
“I talk a lot about the importance of eating fresh fruit and the benefits of Kale – it is a super food!” she says.
It’s already been a decade since Robin opened her first store.
“It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years,” she says.
During that time Robin has been one of our most successful franchisees and she recently renewed her original franchisee agreement, which means we will be blessed to have her as part of the Edible Arrangements family for years to come. That also means she can continue to make her own favorite treat — Berry Chocolate Bouquet with dipped bananas.
“The bananas are definitely my favorite dipped fruit!” she says.
Today I would like to introduce you to Aislinn, an amazing woman who is truly an inspiration for many, including my very own daughters.
Aislinn’s family owned a small business, an environmental laboratory in Hyde Park, NY, and by the age of 11 she was working for her mother doing office work, cleaning lab dishes and other tasks.
At 16, Aislinn decided to start her own business and partnered with a high school friend to open the Hyde Park Dance Arts. That earned her the Johnson & Wales University’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which came with a four year scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, where she graduated summa cum laude with an A.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management and a B.S. in Health Care Administration, specializing in Gerontology.
After graduation, Aislinn became licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator and worked in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
It was while working at a nursing home in Massachusetts that she was introduced to Edible Arrangements® when the director of nursing for the facility purchased an arrangement for the residents. Aislinn still had an entrepreneurial spirit within her and after seeing the reaction to the arrangement, she decided to research the company.
In 2005, Aislinn purchased her first Edible Arrangements franchise. She returned to her hometown and in July opened the first Edible Arrangements in the Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Two years later she opened her second Edible Arrangements location in Kingston, NY. That same year, I presented her with the highly coveted President’s Award at our annual convention. In addition, the Poughkeepsie store was awarded the company’s Northeast Region Pineapple Star Award for exceeding customer expectations and providing superior product quality. Aislinn also received the Always There Making A Difference Award in 2012 for the passionate work she has done in Ulster and Dutchess Counties.
Aislinn and her daughter, Samantha, live in Rhinebeck, NY, with their rescue dog, Honey Bear, and rescue cat, Pookie. If running a business and raising a daughter wasn’t tough enough, she is also active in the Girl Scouts, where she is a Gold Award recipient, a troop leader and also volunteers to teach troops about healthy eating, nutrition, food service and Edible Arrangements. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the local Chapter of the American Red Cross and the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is also an active volunteer and supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the SPCA.
When she does find a little spare time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, ballet and painting.
How does she do it all?
Aislinn says she is fortunate to have a dedicated group of individuals working with her. Many of her team members in the Poughkeepsie store, for example, have been with her since 2006, including Lead Designer, Marcelo, and Lead Prep Assistant, Bryan.
Aislinn encourages her team to have fun and bring happiness to the local community. She often pushes the Driver Supervisor, Josh, to entertain as the store “Banana Man” at community events. Jordan, a Fruit Expert, is also involved in the store’s social media efforts and store supervisor Kayla Welz, who started with the Poughkeepsie store in 2012, has played the role of the “Strawberry Princess” or “Fruity the Elf”.
Oh yes, her favorite arrangement is the Mango Kiwi Blossom with the Tropical Sampler add-on. However, she will never refuse a pineapple fruit truffle!
When I hear her story, I am reminded how blessed we are to have franchisees like Aislinn and many others like her as part of the Edible Arrangements family.
There are many reasons that Edible Arrangements is a success. First, of course is the fact that our products feature fresh fruit and chocolate, that is beautifully arranged. They are both delicious and healthy! The sight of them continues to WOW people, and is part of so many of life’s special occasions! After all, why not celebrate what’s good in life?
Just as important to our success, however, is the fact that our 1,200 stores are locally owned by franchisees — small business owners that are so passionate about what they do and know their local community better than any corporate office ever could!
Edible Arrangements’ local store owners come from all walks of life. Some have come out of retirement for a new challenge, others are “corporate refugees” looking for autonomy and control over their own destinies, and some are young upstarts with entrepreneurial dreams!
Meet Karli, who falls into that last category. Only 22 years old, she will WOW you! You see, Karli has just earned an engineering degree AND has just opened her fist Edible Arrangements store in Canada!
Just four years ago, in 2010, Karli first heard of Edible Arrangements when she received a call from a friend. The Edidble Arrangements store in Halifax was trying to find extra workers for its Valentine’s Day rush. At the time, she was a college student and was happy for opportunity to pick up some part-time work.
Karli says she was immediately WOWED by Edible Arrangements!
After Valentine’s Day she became an Edible Arrangements team member at the store. Of the experience of working at Edible Arrangements, Karli remembers, “I was happy when I went into work. I was happy when I left. I loved it!”
Fast forward a few years to March of 2014. Karli had just graduated from college with a degree in engineering. Still, though, there was just something special about Edible Arrangements that she loved. She learned that a nearby store was for sale and immediately knew what she wanted to do: become a local store owner and continue with the work that she loved!
A month later she told her parents of her decision and was thrilled when they told her they supported her. About one month ago, Kari became owner of the Edible Arrangements store in New Brunswick!
She says that Ryan, owner of the store where she was first introduced to Edible Arrangements four years earlier, has served as an invaluable mentor, saying, “He has been a wonderful supporter and so helpful to me!”
Karli says she still gets to do what she loves as a small business owner, but now she focuses on “bigger picture” issues such as ensuring enough supplies are ordered, that team members are top-notch and implementing local marketing efforts.
What does she like best about owning an Edible Arrangements franchise? Introducing product to new people!
“In Canada, everyone is not as familiar with Edible Arrangements as they are in the United States,” she said. “I love that I have the opportunity to introduce the product to people for the first time–and see the joy on their faces!”
Edible Arrangements is a successful company because of smart, passionate and hard working entrepreneurs like Karli!