Meet the Maker: Alexx Shuman, Marshmallow Maker

Meet the Maker: Alexx Shuman, Marshmallow Maker

“It’s a sweet, sticky business,” says Alexx Shuman, owner of The Vermont Marshmallow Co. (formerly Nomadic Kitchen).

And what is The Vermont Marshmallow Company (VMC), you ask? Well, technically it’s “a rotating collection of handcrafted, boldly flavored, pillowy as heck marshmallows.” But, more practically speaking, it is a woman-owned company in South Burlington, Vermont run by Alexx Shuman, founded on her pastry chef training at the Cordon Bleu (Paris) and New England Culinary Institute (Montpelier), honed through work in restaurants, including with an Iron Chef, in which, she says “I'm basically funneling everything that I know about flavor and sugar and dessert into the humble marshmallow, making it not so humble anymore.”

Born and raised in South Burlington, Alexx says she was “definitely a marshmallow kid.” In fact, she recalls how, throughout her training, whenever she was unleashed to create something of her own, she always gravitated toward s’mores and marshmallows. So it’s no surprise they are at the core of her business.

“We’re Vermont's only marshmallow confectionery,” she explains. “No one is exclusively doing marshmallows like we are, and no one's making other flavors the way that we are. It's really fun to kind of almost put a container around my creativity and my culinary knowledge and be like, ‘I'm going to funnel everything I know into this one magical, nostalgic little treat.’”

As we talk, she fires up a handheld blowtorch and cooks a few of the salaciously sweet treats she sells at farmers’ markets (in addition to VMC’s pre-packaged marshmallows): a s’macaron (a s’more in which graham crackers are happily displaced by a macaron), and a Yippie Pie (torched marshmallow smushed between salted brownie cookies).

It is mesmerizing…

In mid-September, VMC represented the state at The Big E in Massachusetts, selling over 12,000 such special recipe items.

“Our recipes have to pass my wow test,” Shuman explains. “If I don't say ‘wow’ out loud, then we're not selling it. It's a high bar and it's very, very fun to tweak and get it from zero to wow.”

But really, it’s about more than just the wow. “It's about the impact that it's going to have on people and the look on people's faces when they try it for the first time and realize that this is not the marshmallow that they had growing up. It's about creating those little moments of when you taste something really good, you stop. I want people to stop and enjoy it way more, that’s really the driver for me: knowing that the thing that I'm sending out into the world is creating moments of pause and appreciation for people.”

But it is also about creating a viable business, which is part of what separates a maker from an artist.

“The passion for being a great business owner really surprised me,” Shuman says. “And it has only really deepened the desire. It's like, ‘oh, I can build a business that's different. I can work in food and create jobs and food that don't make you suffer the same ways that the restaurant industry traditionally does. I can pay excellent wages and give people flexibility and create a workplace that people want to be at.’ And that's what I've done.”

Not that it’s been a light and fluffy experience, growing from zero to wow in her business, but she strives to make the journey enjoyable. “I always say there's a million things easier to do with your life than entrepreneurship,” Shuman says. “So if you're not making it fun and joyful, then honestly what is the point?”

How does she define success? “I think success is a moving target, and at this point I define success as doing the thing I said I was going to do, because the outcomes are out of my control. So long as I am executing on the things that I've promised to either myself or to my team or whatever it is, then that success for me is just saying, ‘okay, it's done and now it's out in the world and whatever happens is what happens and we deal with it.’”

But more than that, more than just “dealing with it,” it is approaching her making, her business growth, with the right attitude. And, she says, always remembering: “We’re making marshmallows. It has to be a joyful thing. It's like you can taste when your food is made joyfully versus when it's not.”

The Vermont Maker Project

Telling stories about makers across the state of Vermont. Stories and photos by StoryWorkz. Flannel by Vermont Flannel. Learn more at

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