Sunday, June 24, 2018
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Capture the holiday spirit with fruits

fruiquet (5)

NOEME uses fresh, organic fruits from local and foreign suppliers.

WHAT do you give to someone who has everything?

Everyone has probably encountered this dilemma when thinking of gifts to give, particularly to affluent friends, executives and clients. Sometimes, you just don’t have a clue on what to give to someone for a special occasion.

Alan and Noeme Supnet aim to solve this dilemma with FruiQuet, or fruit bouquet, which is a unique alternative to generic gifts.

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A bunch of intricately carved, delicious fruits all in one beautiful bouquet as a gift to anyone for any occasion is what FruiQuet offers. It is healthy, unique, definitely nice to look at, not expensive but also not cheap. And since everyone likes fruits, it can be shared with others.

The husband and wife team of Alan and Noeme started their fruit bouquet business in October 2010.

Unemployed during the early part of that year, Noeme went to her cousins in the United States for a vacation. While there, she saw a fruit bouquet being delivered to her cousins’ house, and she was fascinated with the idea.

She immediately called her husband back home and asked if anyone else is doing the fruit bouquet business locally. Alan, who was then working in the marketing department of a big telecommunication company, researched on it and found no competition. He agreed that it was a fresh, exciting idea for a business, and very timely too, as both were raring to start something new.

“We went to my sister in the US who drove us to Virginia to meet with Chef James Parker, who competes in fruit carving competitions. He taught Noeme how to do fruit carvings and designs,” Alan relates.

Next in the list was to look for a good location. They found a space in Katipunan, and by October, FruiQuet was open for business.

“People got curious when they saw us, as it’s something new and unique. We immediately got orders because it’s a practical gift, especially now that everyone is into wellness,” says Alan.

NOEME uses fresh, organic fruits from local and foreign suppliers.

NOEME uses fresh, organic fruits from local and foreign suppliers.

Noeme is in charge of business operations, as well as the carving and designing of the fruit bouquet. She personally goes to supermarkets to buy the best, freshest fruits she could find. She’s very meticulous in choosing the “perfect” fruits, and buys only branded and organic produce from Rustan’s and S&R. She has also established contacts with reliable local and overseas fruit suppliers. Some fruits are imported from China, New Zealand and Italy, Noeme says.

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The fruits are carved with special cutters for particular shapes, and each piece is held by a barbecue stick. Depending on the designs or special requests, the sticks are then placed in a ceramic mug or jar. A Styrofoam holds the sticks together inside the ceramic.

Noeme admits it was trial and error when she was still starting on fruit carving. There were carvings and bouquet designs that she and Alan rejected, but she persisted in perfecting the craft.

Alan, who resigned from the telecommunications company to start FruiQuet, oversees the marketing and promotions of the business. Currently, he is working for a cable television provider, so he devotes his weekends in promoting FruiQuet via digital and social media.

Trade secrets

Although mangoes and bananas are very popular fruits in the country, Noeme does not use them for her bouquets. When ripe, these two fruits become too soft and could not hold long in a barbecue stick. Green mangoes, however, could be requested.

The couple has also learned some trade secrets in making sure some fruits that brown quickly upon peeling, like apples, maintain their freshness and color. They also don’t overstock on fruits, buying based only on orders and dates of delivery.

“We request customers to place orders one to two days before the date of delivery, and we prepare them one to two hours before delivery to maintain the fruits’ freshness,” says Noeme.

The FruiQuet is vacuum-sealed to seal the freshness. The fruits, if stored in a fridge, could last up to three days. The ceramic mugs and jars are reusable.

Fan clubs

Noeme prepares the fruit bouquets for delivery.

Noeme prepares the fruit bouquets for delivery.

After years of preparing fruit bouquets for customers, Alan and Noeme have already understood their market’s buying patterns. For Valentine’s Day, customers usually order just one FruiQuet and have them delivered to their Valentine’s workplace. For Mother’s Day, most of their deliveries are in villages. But for Christmas, they get multiple orders per customer, and delivered to either offices or homes.

Some of their biggest customers are celebrity fan clubs, which order huge bouquets for their idols.

“These fan clubs, they have several members who all chip in so they could buy the best fruit bouquets for their idols. We even get orders from fan clubs abroad. It’s really amazing,” Alan shares.

Celebrities also count among their clients. They often order fruit bouquets as gifts. It is also becoming a popular get-well gift for hospital patients, something fresh and healthy that can be eaten, instead of the traditional flowers that wilt after a day or two.

They have also been getting orders from Filipinos abroad, as gifts to their loved ones in the Philippines.

Get personalized

There are more than 50 fruit bouquet designs to choose from, but Noeme and Alan are open to personalized orders. Allergies and fruit preferences are taken into consideration, so some fruits could be changed, sometimes at an additional cost since some fruits are pricier than the others. Add-ons such as balloons, chocolates, wines, stuffed toys, and personalized cards are also offered. And recently, they have started the ‘fruity names,’ which are letters carved out of honeydews to spell out names or messages and make the FruiQuet even more personal.

Most of the fruit bouquets have quirky names, but some have special meaning for the couple. A bestseller, Thelma’s Haven, was a tribute to Alan’s late mother. Erika’s Dream and Roma’s Fave were named after the cousin and sister who helped them in the US

Four years and three branches later, Noeme now has a staff of eight skilled fruit carvers to help her in the kitchen. Some even used to work abroad as fruit carvers. Although along the way they encountered difficulties with their staff and fruit suppliers, they have overcome all these and FruiQuet now maintains a loyal group of employees and reliable suppliers.

They also dream of opening branches in Baguio, Cebu and Davao, and covering the entire Metro Manila someday. Intensifying their sales based on orders from overseas is also part of the couple’s agenda.

“The ‘wow factor’ plays big in our FruiQuets. Before people eat the fruits, they like to take pictures of the bouquet first. It’s an excellent conversation topic, and it caters to young and old,” says Alan. “It’s something to share, and a perfect gift for people who already have everything.”

FruiQuet has branches in Katipunan, Megamall, and Dela Rosa carpark in Makati. They can be reached through www.fruiquet.com, or at 0915-4519999 and 794-5999.

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