Somewhere in the chaos of raising five kids, ages 3 months to 11 years, Nathan and Jenn Clark have turned a little idea into a big business.
Founders of Wondermade, an artisanal marshmallow company based in Sanford, the Clarks began making homemade marshmallows in 2010 as a fun Christmas gift, but immediately were stunned by how “un-marshmallow” they were.
“We weren’t looking to start a company, but after we made our first batch we realized that they were so much better than anything we had ever bought at the store,” Nathan says.
Fast-forward five years, and they’ve have now sold millions of marshmallows worldwide via their online store, wholesale partners and, more recently, in the quaint Wondermade Café they opened on Sanford’s 1st Street in late 2014.
“We live in downtown Sanford, and so we wanted to have the kind of store we would love to see here,” says Nathan, who also uses the space as the commercial cooking kitchen for Wondermade marshmallows.
The couple has created about 130 different flavors over the years, though Bourbon remains the most popular by far. Other flavors, like Root Beer and Guinness, are also top sellers, but Wondermade’s new Taste Adventure Club, a weekly subscription-based marshmallow delivery service, is giving the duo the chance to flex their creativity.
“Every week we mail a new flavor of marshmallow, which means we get to cook new flavors of marshmallows all the time without having to worry about the broader appeal. We can create things that may not go well with the larger population but the subscribers are excited to get,” says Nathan of past flavors like sriracha and peanut butter and jelly.
The Clarks would be the first to admit that making marshmallows isn’t rocket science. Just a handful of ingredients (no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors) line the shelf inside their Sanford café kitchen. “I don’t want people to just love our marshmallows, I want to inspire them to make their own,” Nathan says.
A good way to start is by attending one of Wondermade’s monthly workshops, which give participants the chance to tour the facility, taste the product and then make their own box of marshmallows. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at wondermade.com/products/workshop.
It’s been quite a ride for the Clarks, who recently met Martha Stewart and have been featured in her magazine and on her website. “The whole thing has been more of an exercise in providence than strategy,” says Nathan, who describes the business as a cooperative venture.
“I think people love our product because it lets people be a part of a story,” he says. “You always want a gift you give or a treat you share to be something more, and our marshmallows end up creating a memory, not just a moment.”