Emma Bülow, Marshmallow Alchemist
Can you believe there are people that can write "candy producer" on their business card? What sounds like the ultimate dream à la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is reality for the young entrepreneur Emma Bülow who is the founder of The Mallows.
In our series about Cool Copenhageners, we invite you to meet interesting people from Mermaid Stories' hometown who tell us their stories and let us take a glimpse on their work. This one has to start with a confession: Trying and tasting different flavors, were simply blown away by the taste of the fluffy pieces of candy made by Emma Bülow and her team.
We have visited Emma, the young founder of The Mallows, in her office and production house just outside of Copenhagen, and talked with her about the perks of being a marshmallow alchemist and the inspirations behind her aspiring brand.
The timing is just right. Organic food is on the verge, but still, there are not so many candy brands who live up to that. As for us, we are not only hundred per cent convinced that Emma's marshmallows have a glorious future, but can only warmheartedly recommend to try them in one of their retailers or the soon-to-be-opened new shop.
While being dressed in a food-safe white coat, Emma led us through her office and production spaces, showing the single steps of marshmallow production - which are all handmade and packed by the same people. (We were also lucky enough to be there on the day of their production of the pink summer berry marshmallow.)
Emma, you said that you spend most of your days with your head in the marshmallow machine. To us, that sounds like a dream! Could you describe a typical working day – if there is any?
Sure. I spend most of my time making marshmallows. At this point, that is where my priorities are.
However, making marshmallows itself is not the only thing I do on a normal working day. The phone is calling, marshmallows are getting packed and ready to be shipped and meetings are being held – sometimes with marshmallow fluff on my shirt and chocolate on my shoes.
In the evening, I spend most of my time reading and writing e-mails while I do my best trying to be a good girlfriend and a caring cat-mom.
You have probably been asked this before, but why marshmallows?
In many countries, marshmallows are just as popular and beloved as liquorice and chocolate is in Denmark. I love marshmallows myself, and my vision is to reinvent the concept of the chewy and tasteful marshmallow and make the Danes love the marshmallows just as much as I do myself.
Marshmallows are more than just sweets – for me, marshmallows are associated with the Danish concept of “hygge”, grilling them over a fireplace in a good company gives license to eat a little more sweets. This is how the idea was born.
If you should have chosen a different product, what would it have been?
Coming from an enormous candy-family, I have always been fascinated of the sugar’s ability to transform into a variety of sweets. Therefore, if I should choose a different product, it would definitely be a product that could be related to the marshmallow-family.
I was once told that if you work in a chocolate factory, you stop liking the taste of chocolate, which must be kind of a nightmare… How is it with you and marshmallows after you have started producing them?
Haha. I’m trying not to eat as much while I’m at work – first and foremost to avoid that I have to replace my entire wardrobe. But once in a while, I take a bite of one of my favorites and think “wow, this is a real good product”. To be honest, I can always eat our marshmallows – I’m never getting tired of eating them.
Do you dream of marshmallows? (We sometimes dream about watch straps, so we’re curious.)
I’m trying not to work before I go to bed – otherwise I know exactly what I’m gonna dream about.
Talking about dreaming: We heard you had a shop in Copenhagen’s infamous Tivoli? How was that?
Yes, we had a shop in Tivoli during the Christmas time last year. It went beyond all expectations. Even though we were totally new on the market, people were aware of us, and many customers were very surprised to taste our products. A lot of our customers said that they normally don’t eat marshmallows, but since our marshmallows are a lot different in taste and consistency, they where positively surprised and many came back for more during the Christmas time. (Editor's note: We had exactly the same experience - and want more!)
Your company The Mallows launched with six types of marshmallows and each flavor is given a name and a character. How did you come up with the idea itself and how the different characters should be like?
It all began with the name I came up with, The Mallows. I imagined that “The Mallows” should be the surname like we all know it from “The Simpsons” etc.
My vision was to make a family represented by individual characters with their own personal stories. The idea was to create realistic and humoristic stories that my customers can relate to, and – perhaps – making decision from when picking the right mallows for the right person.
The marshmallows are all handmade and organic.
Do you have a favorite flavor? (Or is that a forbidden question?)
Since my brother makes liquorice, it would be shameful not to choose Lloyd Houston’s Dark Liquorice as my personal favorite.
In the making of The Mallows, was there any point where everything just went wrong?
So far, I have not experienced that everything went completely wrong. Nevertheless, I’ve had several moments where I’ve wanted to run from it all.
The Mallows are all made from fine, organic ingredients – why is this important for you?
There is a great demand on organic food, but when it comes to organic sweets, the attention is less striking. Conventional sweets are stuffed with additives and colors, and why not try to make the “sinful food” less sinful by using organic and natural ingredients that are both healthier for our bodies and for the nature.
Could you tell us one “I-bet-you-did-not-know-this” about your company and one about yourself?
I bet you didn’t know that when the staff and I are at our last energy at the end of the day and we need a good kick, we turn on some Westlife music and sing along at the top of our lungs. Very confidential.
One thing you didn’t know about me is that I’ve developed certain skills when it comes to handle a pallet truck after starting The Mallows.
And when talking about yourself, could you tell us a little about you as a person? What made you want to start your own company?
Well, I have always been surrounded by creative and innovative people - first of all my parents, and I have therefore always had a great space to make my ideas come to life. When I was 10, I had my own little pop-up shop at the market in the weekends, where I grew up. So it actually started very early. I have always had the drive and I have always had the dream to create something that would acknowledge my hard work.
What did you think was most important for you when starting up? Experiences or personal traits that have helped you building up the company?
The most important for me at the startup was first of all the love and support I got from my family and also the way they understood that because of the long working hours and hard work, I had to be more absent from now on, and that was okay.
Then it was also super important for me, all the support and help I was given from my former coworkers, whom I have learned so much from.
What is up next for The Mallows? Do you get time to think about that when your head is in the marshmallow machine?
The next thing for The Mallows is hopefully to launch two new units this year and to be more established in the Danish wholesale market.
Can you recommend three Instagrammers or bloggers that you think everybody should know of? It doesn’t have to be about food, by the way.
- @Thesartorialist: I love the way he takes pictures and how he enhances the beauty in people with his work.
- @Majachocolat: She is really cool and has one of the the most beautiful and tasty Instagrams.
- @Signebay: This Instagram is so lovely, you can just daze off and scroll through her pictures for a long time.
Thank you so much for the tour and the interview, Emma!
➸ Head over to The Mallows' Instagram account or have a look on their website to discover the incredibly yummy marshmallows.
You enjoyed reading about Emma and The Mallows? Have a look at our story about Copenhagen-based food agency Sweet Sneak Studio - or meet blogger Caroline Plummer's interview from our Cool Copenhageners series.
Interview & Photos by Mermaid Stories
Product stills by The Mallows