Marshmallows: a commonly forgotten childhood treat typically bought at grocery stores, added to hot chocolate and used as an essential ingredient in making the ever-so-loved s’mores.
However, marshmallows have taken on a whole new meaning for a Gilbert store that has turned these sweets into their delicacy.
Fluff It Gourmet Marshmallows creates handmade marshmallows and sells them in every variation from hand-dipped in chocolate to s’mores.
“All of our marshmallows are handmade, so unless you go to our store and buy them — you really don’t have any other place to get a handmade marshmallow,” Fluff It Gourmet Marshmallows co-owner Tricia Medina says.
She adds, “We solely concentrate on the marshmallow making — different flavors so it’s really a dessert.”
One of the ways Fluff It has portrayed marshmallows as a dessert is through their s’mores bar.
“Customers can come in and we make our own graham cracker bowls,” Medina says.
“We line it with our chocolate ganache. We cut the marshmallow — whatever flavor they choose. We toast it, then we put the toppings on that for them.”
She adds, “I love when the customers come in and they try our marshmallows and then they’ll tell me that I ruined them for their camping s’mores because now they have to come buy mine instead of store-bought ones.”
Fluff It Gourmet Marshmallows’ employee Amy Moss says the s’mores separate them from other sweet shops.
“S’mores were a huge thing in my family whenever we went camping or even you know summer night, so just having that love of a s’more and then realizing that there’s a shop that makes them and makes a whole bunch of different varieties is really what separates us,” Moss says.
The budding marshmallow shop may have only opened its retail location about year ago, but the marshmallow-making came about after the passing of Medina’s grandmother. However, the making of marshmallows turned into an unconventional form of therapy for Medina with her added free time.
“When she passed you have free time and you don’t know what to do with it — you’re supposed to go to lunch with her on Tuesdays … but what I realized when I was making the marshmallows was that I wasn’t focused on that,” Medina says.
She adds, “I was very enthralled with the marshmallow making and different flavors that it became therapy for the grieving for her passing.”
Medina says she then began selling the basic marshmallow flavors on Etsy.
“If people on Etsy sell homemade marshmallows I can sell them,” she says. “Then people started buying off of Etsy, then asking for custom orders.”
When Kickstarter came around, she knew a friend who was doing it, so she decided to launch one of her own.
“Within a few days, we hit out goal which was 5,000 by the end of it we were at 12,000,” Medina says. “We had 236 pre-orders for our marshmallows.”
Medina says she had to take a week off of work to complete as many orders as possible then in May of last year she made a difficult decision. She had to decide whether or not to continue her full time retail job or commit to making marshmallows full time.
“I said, ‘I got to see how this works out,’" Medina says. “I put my two weeks at work and took out my 401-k and got this little place and so far we’ve been here for a year and it has been awesome."
Despite the shop’s continued success, Medina faced the uncertainties that come with starting your own business.
“Starting your own business is scary because you don’t know where the money is going to come from and it was basically a sit down moment of going ‘I think I’ll be okay eating ramen for the next six months,’” Medina says.
Medina says her partner, friends and family helped set up the store. She says the support from them made it happen. However, the family contributions didn’t stop there. Medina’s niece works at the shop as well.
Working with family can have its perks, but sometimes it can be difficult finding the balance.
“They don’t know how to take me as a boss,” she says. “They know me as their aunt or their best friend and then when I give them direction and I bark an order they get very hurt.”
The company not only serves the Gilbert area but also ships marshmallows across the country, Medina says. They also sell their marshmallows at Papa Ed’s Ice Cream in Glendale.
Linda Moran-Whittley, Papa Ed’s Ice Cream owner, says she enjoys coming to Fluff It because of its owners, staff and marshmallows.
“I enjoy coming here and having their product at my business because my customers love their shop, but we’re on the West side of the Valley, so I give the West side Valley an opportunity to enjoy the gourmet marshmallows,” Moran says.
Ultimately, Medina says she hopes to expand and have more marshmallow stores in the future.
“I’d love to see other stores open, Medina says. “I would like to franchise it out and I would love to get a truck so I can travel across the Valley with the s’mores and make them at events.”