When I first started Edible Arrangements® in 1999 in a corner of my flower shop in East Haven, I never dreamed that we would have over 1,100 locations in the U.S. and around the world. Like many entrepreneurs just starting out, my first and main concerns were having enough money to stay open and getting customers. Opening a store overseas never even crossed my mind. I was more concerned about keeping my first Edible Arrangements store open and making it a success.
Well, what a difference a few short years make. Like many businesses, growth overseas is a tremendous opportunity to increase awareness of your brand and build your customer base. As a franchisor, opening your concept in a new country is daunting and nerve-racking. For me, finding the right partner to establish and build the Edible Arrangements brand in an international market is the most important decision I can make. Why? Well, I am entrusting the brand image, trade secrets and systems to someone to run with it –basically build the Edible Arrangements brand from scratch and introduce our products to a new market.
One of the first international countries we entered was Saudi Arabia. The person who we sold the rights to open Edible Arrangements in Saudi Arabia is an amazing woman, Nourah Al-Roassais. The first time I met Nourah I knew we found the perfect partner to introduce Edible Arrangements in Saudi Arabia. She had so much energy, enthusiasm and passion –she had the “wow” factor we look for in our international partners. She had everything we needed to make Edible Arrangements very successful, and that is what she has done. She has far surpassed our expectations. I cannot say enough about Nourah. She is probably the most inspiring, courageous person I know, and she not only inspires me and all of us at Edible Arrangements, she also inspires her staff and everyone she comes in contact with. The word ‘no” or ‘cannot’ has no place in her vocabulary. Her positive attitude and can do energy grabs us all. What she has accomplished as a businesswoman and role-model in Saudi Arabia is awe-inspiring.
Nourah is also a perfectionist. I’ve seen a lot of Edible Arrangements stores in the past 11 years. But I tell you, I have never been more blown away by the beauty and design of Edible Arrangements stores than when I visit Saudi Arabia and see Nourah’s stores. Only one word can describe her stores –phenomenal. I included just a few pictures of her stores in this blog for you to see. Nourah has pushed me –pushed all of us at Edible Arrangements -to make us better. Her only concern is making Edible Arrangements amazing. In three short years, Nourah has opened 11 stores and has built a tremendous loyal following. I know she will open many, many more successful stores soon, and keep giving us ideas that we can use to improve the system everywhere.
I just have to let you know the effect she has on people. At the annual Edible Arrangements convention this August, Nourah received the international franchisee of the year award. When Nourah came up to accept the award she received the biggest, loudest standing ovation that I have ever seen at our convention, or anywhere else for that matter. Franchisees wanted their picture taken with her, as did I. She is a true rock-star in our world. Her story and what she has accomplished makes the obstacles that I and others had to overcome seem very small. Thank you, Nourah –for inspiring all of us and making all of us at Edible Arrangements want to work a little harder, fight a little longer and give us a little more –well, a lot more – motivation to just go out and make it happen.