Founders Interview | Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie @ Mallow & Marsh
Hi, I’m Harriot, I’m 35 years old and I’m the Founder of Mallow & Marsh, a premium marshmallow brand dedicated to putting good marshmallow on the map.
Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
I have always had a love of food and cooking, family life when I was young was mainly focussed around the kitchen and so food has always been an inspiration for me.
Snacking came later, once I was making marshmallows I looked more and more into the category and realised how exciting it was.
There is so much variety, every flavour and product you can think of can be made into a snack and that is so much fun!
What inspired you to do what you do?
Funnily enough, I was challenged to make marshmallows at home.
Having never made them before (or even really thought about them before), I went home and made my very first batch.
It was so much fun, and I played around with colours and flavours. They tasted great and the idea just got under my skin.
I kept experimenting and giving them out to friends and the feedback was so positive, it just got a life of its own after that.
What was your Eureka Moment when you knew you had a product which you could take to market?
Honestly, the day I landed a Sainsbury’s listing.
Before that, I was just someone trying to make ends meet and doing something a little bit crazy.
My friends and family thought I was mad, and I am pretty sure I did too.
We were still tiny, only selling in markets and I had entered a competition to win a 12 month local listing.
Sainsbury’s called me to say I’d won and it was such a moment of validation, it just made me go, wow, this could really be something. It was such a fantastic day.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
We focus mostly on taste and enjoyment.
First and foremost we want people to really love our marshmallows, there really is nothing else quite like them.
Wherever possible we keep the calories low and focus on natural ingredients, to ensure we are offering the best possible version of our treats.
We’ve recently been looking more into sustainability, reviewing our packaging and ingredients to ensure we can offer the best possible treats in the best possible way.
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I was working in the city and it was just after the 2008 recession.
I was in a job I didn’t really enjoy and I was a bit fed up. I wanted to have more control over my future and I was passionate about trying to help other small companies come together to fight larger corporates.
One day I just made the leap and quit.
It felt strange at first, but I needed to pay rent, so that got me moving quite quickly.
I started off running a jewellery business that helped smaller designers get recognised, but I quickly realised my passion was food and pivoted into marshmallows.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
The start. Once you’re in it, it gets a life of its own and you have to keep going, but at the start you have to find all this energy to get going and to figure things out.
How to set up a business, how to find a factory, how to win listings etc…
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
Actually our whole recipe is a mistake.
At our launch at Taste of Winter I got my first ever factory products down to sell.
When I opened them up they were much firmer, harder than they were supposed to be. When making them on larger scale a few things had changed in the process.
I was so upset and thought I was going to have to cancel the show, but they tasted great.
So I thought, why not, I’ll chop these up as samples, so people know what they’re buying and see how it goes… everyone loved them so much, including me, so we ended up keeping the firmer texture forever.
What keeps you motivated?
I have no idea. I just love it, I love the team, I love what we do, I love the variety my role offers me, and I love the fact that every day we are doing things differently and challenging norms.
Even the bad days make the good days better.
What do you do in your spare time outside of business life?
I’m a keen hiker, I love the countryside, space, fresh air and the sea. Put me outside and I am happy.
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
Resilience and positivity.
You need to bounce back from every knock you get, and you need to see the opportunity in every challenge.
No one starts out with the perfect product or business, it develops over time through the way you react to the learnings at the start and so seeing that, and being able to develop and improve as you go is vital.
What would you say is your biggest strength?
My relentless positivity.
Even on really crap days, I know that things will be ok…..They always are.
What would you say is your biggest weakness & how do you look to overcome this?
I like to be in control of things, so letting go of things has been a journey for me.
It was easier to do once I was really aware of my behaviour though and I know I can’t do everything myself so I had to learn to let go.
If you could sit down with yourself for a pint/glass of wine/coffee this time last year…..what would be the 3 most important tips you would give yourself knowing what you know now?
Stop worrying about the little things.
Those ideas you have, stop chewing them over and start doing them, they’re great ideas and they could really help move things forward.
When I go to Bali at Christmas, stay there for a year… London might not be worth coming back to for a while. ;)
Any plans or predictions you can share with us for the rest of 2020?
I am really excited by the re-opening of the country and I think it will be a big second half of the year for small food businesses to show their creativity and stand out.