Bacon-flavoured marshmallows, entrepreneurial adventures in Africa and how struggles with dyslexia propelled her to success. Mallow & Marsh founder and Chief Whisk, Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie (below), dishes up excellent advice for young entrepreneurs.
Tell us a little about your business, its origins – and most of all, why marshmallows?
Mallow & Marsh started as a £50 bet that I couldn’t make marshmallows. I had never thought about making marshmallow before. So, I found an online recipe and sugar thermometer and got busy.
It was just a bit of fun at first. I made bacon ones, blue ones and even tried to do some shapes. Marshmallows just got under my skin. I saw marshmallows as an exciting opportunity to really do something different with flavours and textures. I was also excited about tapping into the growing trend of making premium products from everyday items.
I won the £50 bet, added £200 of my own money, bought a whisk – and the rest is history.
Were you entrepreneurial when you were younger?
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I’ve always been a hustler.
When I was 11, my father took me to a flea market in Africa. He lent me $5 to buy something nice, thinking I’d come back with nothing. Instead, I bought a carrier bag of copper bracelets, which I managed to sell at school for £1 each. I think that might have been the most profitable business I’ve ever run!
What were you like at school?
I struggled at school as I’m dyslexic. Normal studying and ways of learning weren’t really for me. I didn’t do badly in the end, but I had to really work hard at it. I did learn to stand on my own feet. Struggles with my studies helped build resilience – to bounce back from failure.
I think I knew then that I wouldn’t have a normal career. The real value of school came after I left. My teachers and school friend have been incredibly supportive of my journey. They’ve shared contacts and opportunities, helped me problem-solve and even sent future employees my way.
Tell us about a failure you’ve had and how you reacted to it?
I’ve had so many failures, it’s hard to choose. Every day we try things out and fail – sometimes significantly, sometimes only just.
For us failure is a positive. Failures help us improve. It’s a matter of keeping going. We bounce back from problems, find solutions even when we’re pretty sure there aren’t any, and learning from our mistakes.
What key character traits are needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Inner drive – The ability to just keep going, keep working and keep driving
forward, even when you’re on your own.
Resilience – Be eternally positive and bounce back, no matter what.
Bravery – Be absolutely fearlessness.
What three pieces of advice would you give your (much) younger self?
Go for it and don’t look back. Be brave. It might not work, but you will learn more than you thought possible on the journey and it will be a memory you’ll treasure.
I’d also say have fun. Sometimes things can feel very heavy or serious. Never forget to have a little fun along the way.
Just keep going – and remember this saying: “Everything’s OK in the end. So if it’s not OK, it’s not the end”
Imagine you were 11-years old and launching a business at the Children’s Business Fair. What three things would you do to help sell more?
I would make sure that I was really happy with the quality of the product or service I was offering.
I would increase my prices. People often start with quite low pricing to encourage people to try, but the start of your business is the best moment to start as you mean to go on. It’s much easier to drop your pricing than it is to increase it.
Everyone is a customer. If you have lots of energy, are polite, kind and empathise with everyone, you will not only win their hearts but beat the competition.
Any final thoughts for CBF entrepreneurs?
Just have to go for it. Enjoy the journey and don’t forget to laugh. And never forget that there are lots of people around to help support you on the harder days.
I wish the Children’s Business Fair had existed when I was growing up. It’s such a great way to help children get more involved in starting up, test their ideas and get feedback.
Thank you Harriot from us all at the Children’s Business Fair!
Find out more about Mallow and Marsh, here.