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Get Inspired

Think owning a franchise will stifle your creative side? These companies show how fun franchising can be.

Franchising may seem inherently uncreative; after all, it's about opening a lot of businesses that are alike. But some franchises are all about unique and artistic creations--whether they make them, frame them or inspire others to create them.

Business Is Blooming
Flowers make a lovely gift, but their beauty fades. As flower shop owners, brothers Tariq and Kamran Farid saw this problem and solved it by creating Edible Arrangements in 1998. Instead of flowers, their bouquets are made of fruit cut into flower shapes--so they look beautiful and can be eaten instead of thrown away. "I love [delivering arrangements] because of the reactions on people's faces," says Kamran. "They love that it's different."

The brothers have backgrounds in technology as well as floristry, so after they began franchising in 2000, they created an online support system that makes it easy for their franchisees to take orders and communicate with other stores.

Frame of Mine
Fastframe, started in England in 1982 and brought to the U.S. in 1987, offers retail framing services for artwork, photography, memorabilia and mirrors. Even flat-screen TVs can be turned into works of art. But having an artistic side isn't a requirement for franchisees. According to CEO Brian Harper, it's not a love of art that determines franchisees' success, but a knack for marketing. "Marketing and sales drive a business," he says. Still, while franchisees don't need to have an appreciation for art, helping customers who do is a definite perk. Says Harper, "The most satisfying thing about the business is [the customers' delight] when they pick up the finished product."

Make It Personal
Ray Titus has a lengthy history in the franchising world. First, he worked for his father's company, Minuteman Press, then followed in his father's footsteps by starting Sign-A-Rama. Finally, combining his experience in franchising, printing and design, Titus founded his latest franchise, EmbroidMe, in 2000. His goal was to give clients from businesses to schools to athletic teams just one place to go for all their personalization needs.

EmbroidMe stores not only offer embroidery and screen printing, but they also sell shirts, hats, bags, towels and jackets that can be personalized, as well as promotional pens, mouse pads and sports items. Customers can bring in their own designs or the store can design art for them.

Pint-Size Picassos
Mary Rogers was troubled by art programs being cut from schools. So in 2002, she started Abrakadoodle with Rosemarie Hartnett, and using Rogers' experience as co-founder of the Computertots franchise, they began franchising Abrakadoodle in 2004. The company offers art programs for kids from ages 20 months to 12 years old. The lessons teach painting, drawing, sculpting, collage and digital design. There's even a program that teaches kids about different artists' styles. Abrakadoodle's franchisees come from all walks of life, but what they have in common, says Rogers, is a desire to help their communities by encouraging kids' creativity.

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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This article was originally published in the June 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get Inspired.

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