Stephanie Beck Borden of Love & Fluff Marshmallows

Stephanie Beck Borden founded Love & Fluff Marshmallows, and currently sells marshmallows in a variety of flavors at Findlay Market and the Mariemont Farmers Market.

How did you start your business?
Two-and-a-half years ago, I was looking for a new food gift idea for the holidays and signed up for one of those 100-day-until-Christmas countdown emails. Mostly, I ignored those emails, but one day I opened one. It had a recipe for peppermint marshmallows that struck me. I made the recipe and people went bananas. I’ve been making marshmallows for private orders and working with my friend Rachel [DesRochers], who owns Grateful Grahams, and I decided in May to create my own company.

What inspired you to launch?
About three years ago, I decided to take a break from my career as a community organizer to be more flexible and available to my family. I started helping Rachel by rolling dough for her as Grateful Grahams was getting off the ground. It was a process of being inspired by her, living her dream and watching her create flexibility for her family with this idea.

Why marshmallows?
They’re flexible—you can try anything. Right now, a hot food trend is savory and sweet—we see maple syrup and bacon in almost everything. I look around to see what people are enjoying and trying.

My most popular marshmallow right now is a lemon thyme marshmallow. I also ask friends and family what flavors they’d enjoy trying. For a fundraiser last year, I did a curry-flavored marshmallow because the theme for the fundraiser was “Out of India.” People loved them.

What does your production schedule look like?
We’re starting to push the boundaries of that right now. [Making marshmallows] isn’t the only thing that I do, but it’s great because I can do it in bite-sized chunks. I can get up before the kids are up and do a few batches in an hour. I can take another bite out in the afternoon or in the evening.

For many different candy-making processes, it’s hard to start and finish in one setting. With marshmallows, you make them, you do the cooking and whipping, they cure for a while and then you package them. It’s a fragmented process that works well when you have children.

What do you wish everyone knew about marshmallows?
I encounter a lot of people who don’t like the texture of marshmallows, but a handmade marshmallow is not even close to what you’d buy in a plastic bag in the grocery store. It can almost melt in your mouth; it’s not a “sproingy” hockey puck. It’s soft and bursting with flavor.

What’s next for Love & Fluff?
We’ll be looking at wholesaling to grocery stores and coffee shops once we find and move into a new space. But I haven’t nailed anything down yet.

What have you learned along the way?
I’m in the process of learning which flavors people are interested in—and not interested in. The markets are helping me sort that out, and that’s been fun. This week, I’m going to roll out chai marshmallows, and I’ll be incorporating some spices from local farms this fall. Still, I’m being careful not to overwhelm people with too many choices. 

You were once a community organizer. How do those skills help you now?
Doing community organizing is about being relational and being able to talk to people. That helps me at markets and as I begin teaching at grocery stores and coffee shops. I learned how to approach people and to cultivate relationships outside of a personal context. Oh, and wicked multitasking.

Where did your company name come from?
For me, the love piece really comes from wanting people to have more love and joy in their lives. We all work hard and are busy. Marshmallows are fun, and encourage us to take a moment, relax, sit around the fire or the table and just be with people we enjoy being with.

Interview by Robin Donovan