KINGMAN - A thin layer of white chocolate snaps as you bite into a bright, juicy slice of orange. The combination of sweet citrus and the smooth-textured chocolate is refreshing - almost intoxicating. You take another bite.
Less than a month ago, Barbara Terlizzi opened Kingman Fruit Creations, a small business specializing in delicious and beautiful fruit bouquets.
Terlizzi, who is an ex-hairstylist, moved here from New Jersey two years ago and immediately started thinking of opening a business. In New Jersey she ran a hair salon for 10 years, but after realizing the proliferation of salons in Kingman, she knew she needed to come up with something different.
Dabbling in the creation of fruit bouquets was something Terlizzi did for fun. But at a wedding she made several fruit-based centerpieces and reception gifts, including a pineapple heart, chocolate strawberry display that went over quite well.
"People were coming up to me and saying, 'Oh my goodness, did you make this?'" Terlizzi said.
That's when she started practicing by creating chocolate-based fruit gifts and giving them to friends, which ultimately led to her opening Fruit Creations.
After the initial beauty, the most important thing about a fruit bouquet is the taste, Terlizzi said. And the only way to ensure exquisite taste is with high quality ingredients.
First, there's most everyone's favorite: the chocolate.
"I only use gourmet chocolate," Terlizzi said. "It's expensive, but I would rather have someone say, 'Wow that's good chocolate,' than save some money."
Melted down Hershey's chocolate has a gritty consistency and is easily identified, Terlizzi said. But the chocolate she uses, which she buys in bulk, is smooth and recognized solely as good chocolate, she said.
Next comes the fruit, which she and her one employee must test. Sometimes, there will be melons that taste like carrots, and no one wants that, she said. About 80 percent of the strawberries she orders are up to par, and the ones that fall short never end up in the bouquets.
Since Fruit Creations offers custom orders, fruit quality can be a challenge, she said. If Terlizzi receives a faulty shipment of melons, but people want bouquets with melons, she will attempt to offer pineapples or other fruits as alternatives.
Fruit Creations can have an arrangement made within 30-45 minutes except on big holidays such as Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, Terlizzi said. During those holidays - where up to 150 orders are expected - Terlizzi suggests people call three days in advance. Other than those days, Fruit Creations offers same-day delivery.
"If I can do six to 10 baskets a day, that's a good starter," Terlizzi said, speaking of normal business days. "In the long term, I hope to get up to 20 arrangements a day."
Though the business is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Terlizzi said she plans to stay late, come in early and work on Sunday by appointment. It's all about the customers, she said.
People who buy arrangements can expect follow-up calls because Terlizzi wants to know what customers thought, and how Fruit Creations can improve.
There are 12-count fruit boxes for $24 and small arrangements for $33. After that, prices continue up based on the size of the arrangement.
In the future, Terlizzi hopes to open more locations in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, but for now her focus is on getting customers in the door and providing top-notch bouquets.
Potential customers can also stop by to sample various chocolate-covered fruits.
"The sight, smell and taste is amazing in person." Terlizzi said. "They are bouquets you can eat."
Fruit Creations is located at 3530 N. Skylark Road. You can contact Terlizzi at (928) 681-6602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.