Born in Detroit, Michigan to immigrant parents from Nigeria (who moved to the U.S. to get an education) Gift Isiakpere has always been exposed to the best blueprint for working hard to live the life you want. Moving back to Nigeria around the age of 5 further helped her cultivate her entrepreneurial skills. A natural born hustler, she started her first business in high school while living in Warri (a city in Nigeria). On her way to school she would pick fruits from the trees and sell them to other students. She spent around 2,000 naira on the things she needed to sell the fruits and made at least 11,600 naira back (especially on days it was really hot in Nigeria). During a visit to Benin Republic she noticed people selling jewelry and soap in the market and decided to make this her side hustle. She vividly remembers spending 4,700 naira on materials to sell her jewelry and soap and making a return of 57,000! She went from selling her products to people on the street to selling them to big corporations. Her father gave her the name “little international business lady” after recognizing her ability to turn a side hustle into a full-fledged business.
During a visit to Benin Republic she noticed people selling jewelry and soap in the market and decided to make this her side hustle. She vividly remembers spending 4,700 naira on materials to sell her jewelry and soap and making a return of 57,000! She went from selling her products to people on the street to selling them to big corporations. Her father gave her the name “little international business lady” after recognizing her ability to turn a side hustle into a full-fledged business.
The Birth of Fruit Fantasy – A God Given Gift
Entrepreneurship wasn’t the only thing Gift set her sights on. She also knew the one thing she had to do in life was become a mother. For as long as she could remember being a mother was something she always wanted. She experienced losing several babies hours after labor and constant childbirth issues, which caused her to become discouraged. Her strong faith and will to realize her dream of being a mother is what kept her going. She eventually got pregnant again and during labor she fell into a coma. It was then that the first vision of Fruit Fantasy came to her. Gift says she remembers a vision of a watermelon and knife during the coma. When she awakened from the coma, she says she felt different and became determined to do something she was passionate about. Through God’s grace she finally gave birth to her first child.
Being on maternity leave and realizing she’d have to leave her son and return to work, she got the idea to become a mompreneur and run her own business. One night, her husband asked her to prepare fruit for him as a simple snack. She decided to put the vision that came to her while in a coma to the test. Her husband expected a simple piece of fruit but what she brought him was a masterpiece. He was impressed and it was in that moment that Gift knew she could turn her God given talent into a powerhouse business. Gift had been blessed with a skill she didn’t have prior to the coma. That definitely meant something.
Growing Fruit Fantasy Into a Powerhouse Bigger Than Edible Arrangements
Gift’s vision for Fruit Fantasy is bigger than that of its largest competitor, Edible Arrangements. Fruit Fantasy is different from what’s already out there. The company goes far beyond creating pretty fruit arrangements. They build “real life” looking sculptures out of fruit. That’s what sets the company apart from its competitors. Gift plans on expanding the company into a national franchise in the next several years, making the business a household name. She’s already teaching people how to carve fruit into sculptures like she does which means she has ample opportunity to help them start their own Fruit Fantasy franchise. Gift says she sees the business outliving her, and her three sons taking over some day. With the way things are going, that vision will definitely become a reality.
Perseverance is the Way to Realize Success
Don’t give up, persevere. That’s what she would tell aspiring entrepreneurs. Gift says the first few years in business was rough. She did a lot of work for free and when she did began charging a fee for her services, she only had a handful of clients. She says, “if you really believe in the dream, keep going. Not everyone will like your work…keep persevering. Not everyone will see your vision but it doesn’t matter, keep trying.” Gift believed her business was unique and she would make it. That’s the primary reason why Fruit Fantasy is still around today.
Education is Also Key to Building a Successful Business
Gift also attributes her success to her education and experience in Corporate America. Before venturing into the fruit sculpting business, she worked as Surgical Technologist. She also has Bachelor of Science in Surgical Technology and Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. She worked for one of the nation’s largest hospitals (Beaumont Hospital) which is also where she obtained her first few clients for Fruit Fantasy. Working in the corporate world helped her develop business acumen and professional skills that she wouldn’t have developed without the experience.
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