Each week, we’re featuring one of my favorite small businesses so that you can learn about their journey and how you can support them during this time. This week we are featuring Lindzi Shanks of XO Marshmallow!
Who are you and what do you do?
XO Marshmallow is a gourmet marshmallow company with the world’s 1st marshmallow cafe. I’m Lindzi Shanks, co-founder of XO Marshmallow; I head up all of our marketing and branding.
What’s the story behind your company?
In 2015, Kat had an idea to make delicious, flavored, gourmet marshmallows. That winter, she met entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger Lindzi Shanks, who also runs The Trendy Sparrow. They found they had a lot in common, especially when it came to s’mores!
In January of 2016, Kat + Lindzi decided to team up, and by March had launched their online store! In June of 2017 (after only being in business for a year!) and after constant demand from customers and marshmallow lovers alike — Kat and Lindzi opened the 1st ever marshmallow cafe and wonderland in Chicago! They are currently working on bringing new and exciting flavors to their online shop, and coming up with crazy new ideas for the marshmallow cafe!
The goal of XO Marshmallow is to bring the nostalgia of sipping cocoa with s’mallows, or roasting s’mores by the campfire, into the 21st century with a modern twist! We want to take this fluffy, adorable treat and elevate it. We use premium ingredients to develop our innovative flavors–from classic Vanilla Bean to Champagne. Our s’mallows are the perfect size to snack on alone, share with others, or use to create a fun and creative dish! Each small batch of gourmet marshmallows is handcrafted with care to ensure consistent quality for marshmallow lovers of all ages.
What’s your favorite product or service that you offer and why?
Our Marshmallow Turtles are insane! The combo of housemade caramel, roasted pecans, marshmallow and dark chocolate makes them the perfect snack!
What’s your advice to others who are interested in starting a business?
Diversify your income. I think we’ve all seen in the last couple of weeks how much a business can suffer if they are focusing on only one platform that could be shut down in the blink of an eye. If we just had the cafe, we’d be toast right now. But because we have an online shop and a wholesale revenue stream, we are able to keep our heads above water.
How has COVID-19 affected your day-to-day operations How have you pivoted during this time?
We’ve really shifted our focus online. Cafe sales are down 80% (unsurprisingly) so we crunched some numbers and offered free shipping. We moved from 4-6 business day processing to same or next day shipping. In a time when even Amazon is failing to deliver on their 2-day prime promise, we wanted to go above and beyond for our customers and give them the best experience possible. I’m spending less time on marketing and branding these days, and my time is spent more in the kitchen and shipping and fulfilling orders to make good on this promise. We’ve shifted all of our cafe staff to the kitchen to help get orders out faster, while our cafe manager still remains the happy face you see in the cafe!
How can your audience help to support you during this time?
Shop online! We are offering FREE shipping on all orders over $25, so customers can head over to www.xomarshmallow.com and get marshmallows delivered straight to your door.
What’s next for you and your biz? Any new products or offerings on the horizon?
We have some really exciting new products launching soon, including our DIY OMG Kits. In our cafe, we offer a DIY OMG Class where you get vanilla marshmallow fluff and get to design your own flavor. Since classes are canceled and many parents (and non-parents) are going stir crazy at home, we’ve turned this class into a kit you can purchase! Now you can have the same experience but at home! We are also launching a banana bread marshmallow since the world seems to be captivated by making banana bread at home right now.