Cool Jobs: Irene Dele-Adejumo Crafts Sweet Works of Art with Fruit

Nigerian-American founder of Fruit Art talks meshing creativity with career

Fruit carver and chef, Irene Dele-Adejumo (Image: Dele-Adejumo)

We have good news for you. You can have a cool career and make a good living. No need to choose between loving your job and paying your mortgage. The following profile, part of the BlackEnterprise.com Cool Jobs series, offers a peek into the nuts and bolts, perks and salaries behind enjoyable careers.

Irene Dele-Adejumo is not your typical paint- and canvas-toting artist. Her tool of choice is her fruit-carving knife. The lover of beauty and healthy lifestyles found her professional niche as a chef and further expanded her brand by founding Fruit Art.

Dele-Adejumo quit her comfortable 9-to-5 job to pursue working in the culinary field as a fruit carver, among other endeavors to suit her multiple interests in molding beauty and art. Since then, the creative go-getter hasn’t looked back, boasting a client list that includes the Nigerian Embassy, Hyatt Hotels, Westin Hotels, Ghana’s The Golden Tulip hotel and Nollywood actress Adunni Adewale, among others.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Dele-Adejumo to talk about how she got started in such a creative career path and how going global has opened up a world of opportunities for advancement.

What was the inspiration to choose fruit carving as a profession, and how did you train for it?

I fell in love with fruit carving after trying it as a hobby. I chose to go further and establish it as a career after recognizing that there was a lot of opportunity in the market because it was not very common. I found my niche in creating theme-based arrangements and carvings for clients to set myself apart from competitors like Edible Arrangements.

I have combined formal and self-training to elevate my skills to be able to create artistic pieces. I specifically took courses to become a certified chef, which was necessary for me to be able to work with corporate clients. Yet, the formal training was more focused on food preparation and cooking rather than fruit-carving, so I supplemented it with multiple hours of self-teaching in order to be able to fulfill my clients requests.

Why did you choose to return to Ghana, and how did that help your career?

A Fruit Art display (Image: Facebook)

I decided to travel to Ghana on a quest to expand my brand because the of country’s growing economy and my familiarity with the interests and needs of [people] after growing up there.

When it comes to fruit-carving, Ghana presents so many opportunities. I was approached by hotels to teach fruit-carving to their chefs. I also found in Ghana the opportunities I had differed from the US.  For example, in the U.S. I primarily provide services to clients (i.e. fruit displays), but in Ghana I was more involved in skills training.

Going to Ghana introduced my services to a new and exciting market that is seeking quality products made for their needs. The level of exposure I got from doing events in there and partnering with major hotels has increased my network and brought new clients. In addition, Ghana has taught me lessons on soliciting local sponsors and getting into media spaces that I can draw from as I expand into other foreign countries.

Nina Oduro (@NinaBasiwa) is the founder of AfricanDevJobs.com, a platform for Africa-based development job opportunities, professionals’ voices and career advice, with a special focus on highlighting the contributions of Africans and the African diaspora. Committed to women’s empowerment, education and youth leadership development, she serves an adviser, trainer and facilitator for programs and initiatives aimed at positive youth development in the U.S. and Africa.

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