We are limping towards the finish line of the end of the school year, and motivation to get places on time, finish projects and check everything off the to-do list is really waning. Summer is literally right around the corner, and all I can do is dream about lazy mornings without having to drive kids to school, or days spent at friends’ homes swimming in the pool, and late nights spent around fire pits drinking a good beer and roasting marshmallows.
I. Can’t. Wait. I’m not a patient person when it comes to roasting the marshmallows. I prefer them burnt black so that I can eat them in layers. It makes the fun last longer for me, but I get to it quicker. The hubby loves to find a spot near the coals and roast his until it’s golden brown and all gooey and melting inside. Although my way is quicker, his way tastes better, so when he offers me one of his patiently roasted ones I will not turn it down. I’d love to try roasting one (or all) of Ann’s Plush Puffs the next time we are sitting around the fire. I think her special flavors and concoctions would only make the whole night better! If you are around for Santa Ana Patchwork Show on May 24th, or Long Beach Patchwork Show on June 7th, stop by her booth and check out her gourmet marshmallows! And go roast one (or a whole bunch) for me and let me know which is the best!
Please introduce yourself.
I am Ann Hickey, owner and president of Plush Puffs Hand Crafted Marshmallows. I live in Sherman Oaks, CA and hop on my bike every day to commute to our kitchen in Burbank, CA. I’m married to an amazing human being, David Williams. We have two pretty awesome kids or young adults and cooky Cocker Spaniel named Cosmo.
What do you make or do?
I make, or rather at this point in the game, “we” make hand crafted marshmallows. “I” did start out making them, eating them, cutting them, packaging them and selling them. But I started in 2002 – so I’m grateful to not be the only one doing it all anymore. Our marshmallows are more or less what you would make if you were to make them yourself at home, but on a hundreds and hundreds of pounds level :). There is a little automation now with some steps, but for the most part, it’s just a larger operation of a home-made process.
Where can we find your creations?
We sell them online on our website; www.plushpuffs.com, various specialty and natural retail stores (Whole Foods, Monsieur Marcel, etc. and we’re the yummy chocolate marshmallow on top of Panera Bread’s Signature Hot Chocolate).
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Creativity is not really necessity or a luxury. In fact, I often don’t think of myself as creative at all, more of a problem solver or an idea implementor. I don’t even know if the right side of my brain works. I see things in terms of what appears to be a logical development “if” something were to be put in place… Like, wouldn’t it make sense that all car doors slid open vertically over the roof? This would eliminate a load of safety issues due to opening car doors, no more dings, and cars would have a futuristic design appeal. That kind of thing seems logical to me and maybe it’s already in production, I don’t know, but that is how I think about things. Marshmallows were one flavor, that didn’t make sense to me… so why not offer them in different flavors. This may be a good idea, but if there is ever a place for creativity it is in the nuts and bolts of execution. Getting the “idea” to market, overcoming a million and one obstacles from shelf life, production hurdles, fixing production equipment when manuals and repair people can’t help, and on and on…
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I am looking to finally open a small retail shop. I’ve done this for 13 years on wholesale/online basis only and I think it’s time we had a storefront to open to the world, let them come and meet us, try a marshmallow or two and hopefully take some home.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Be truthful. Sounds simple, but actually is a VERY hard task. Be truthful to yourself, to others, to your customers, to people you don’t even know. Forgive yourself when you’re not, then start over and say the truth.