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Ottawa woman carves out niche with fruitful creations

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Ask Jacqueline Bonilla to bring a fruit platter to a party and she’ll arrive with a juicy, delicious art piece.

The 27-year-old recent University of Ottawa graduate is carving out a niche in Ottawa’s food catering industry with her company Fruit Couture.

Watermelon dresses carved on dolls, fruit-filled pirate ships and colourful bouquets of flower-shaped pineapples and melons are among her creations.

“For the carvings, it usually takes me about two hours, but it usually depends on how complex they are,” said the Houston-born, Ottawa-raised Bonilla. “It is time-consuming and people don’t realize it … It’s more like an art.”

She started her business last September after she brought an owl-themed fruit platter to a friend’s owl-themed baby shower. She found that idea online and it ended up being a party favourite. But now she’s teaching herself how to create new pieces, like carving letters into a watermelon peel.

As if launching a new company is not busy enough, Bonilla was working on a degree in sociology and communications and caring for her six-year-old son.

“My son loves what I do,” she said. “He’s a very picky eater, like incredibly picky … I always make sure he eats fruit, stays healthy.”

She’s still working on her website and hopes to one day open a store with the long-term goal of launching a franchise.

“But the thing is, that you need to have people who know how to do carvings,” she said. “I guess I would have to teach everybody.”

Her creations start at $20 and cost up to $75 or more, with the option for delivery.

Fruit Couture has a contest on its Facebook page for a chance to win a fruit bouquet.

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