by Emily Gutzmer, Fellow at WACCT
On Thursday, February 26th, Edible Arrangements founder and CEO Tariq Farid spoke on his success story to 70 attendees at the Hartford Club. Born in Pakistan, he moved with his family to East Haven, Connecticut and worked at a flower shop and, at 17, bought and managed his own shop before expanding into the Edible Arrangements business we are familiar with today.
Farid cited his family’s working culture and priorities as key parts of his development. His father worked hard to support his family, and his mother always pushed her children to find success. Farid joked that, upon taking a paper route, he never took it as a hobby the way his peers did. He constantly looked to deliver more papers, to provide better service, and to develop relationships with his clientele. He received very little financing while starting his own flower business, and became resilient and independent as a result. Farid never relied on borrowing money and avoided debt, choosing instead to use the business’s revenue as its working capital as well. It was in this way that he slowly but surely built the business that would become Edible Arrangements, learning the tricks of the trade on the ground as he worked. Knowledge is like water, he said, citing his family, it goes downhill, and to reap the benefits of it you need to lower yourself to let it come to you.
In fielding questions about his business’s success, Farid emphasized the necessity of personal relationships and local knowledge. One of his early mistakes was to talk to potential partners about what the company had done and how. What was more fruitful was to discuss the future and where the company could expand. Franchising is key, he also argued, because, in contrast to a system of managers, he gained dedicated local owners who also know the local clients and markets. He also noted that a particularly successful business model is to find a product and then start to tie in the supporting products to eventually reap benefit from the product sources, the IT support, and the transportation companies; to that end, Farid is currently launching an IT company in China to support the growth of Edible Arrangements.
In addressing the next generation of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, Farid emphasized the role of hard work. What we should not lose in the United States, he said, is the environment that emphasizes building on what has been given to us and that rewards hard workers. There are more and more opportunities globally, especially in China and India, that we simply have not yet been exposed to. The combination of working hard, taking advantage of new opportunities, and finding the right people to work with have led to remarkable international growth.