BASED IN: NEW YORK
What do you do?
I started Squish Marshmallows completely by accident (as many fun ideas start). As a former DJ, tech startup-er, and current voice over artist, I never really saw "marshmallow maker" in my future. But, I've always had a passion for cooking, baking, an even more serious passion for sweets (call up Guinness, I'm pretty sure I hold the record for the "World's Biggest Sweet Tooth"), and an entrepreneurial spirit (my first venture was at 8 years old, selling handmade, beaded jewelry at a local gift store. And yeah, this kid actually sold pieces!).
As soon as I started making marshmallows, I was hooked. They were fun for me to make, and it was exciting to come up with new and unique flavors and textures that people usually don't equate with the marshmallow.
The most important thing to me, is to make a quality product that people enjoy. There's nothing more satisfying than being able to bring a smile to someone's face with something that you've put your heart and love into.
What is the best part about being an entrepreneur? What is the worst/hardest part?
The best part about being an entrepreneur, to me, is being able to be my own boss. The hardest part is also being your own boss. There’s no one else monitoring you, telling you what you need to do, how to do it, you need to be able to do all these things for yourself. However, because of this, it’s ok to reach out to others to ask questions, gain inspiration, etc, when you don’t have the answers. Because, we don’t, and can’t, have ALL the answers. There’s definitely strength in asking for assistance.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Do you come from a family of entrepreneurs?
I can’t say that I ever knew, necessarily, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. What I did know, was that I always had a spirit that lead me to want to start my own projects and ventures. When I was in about 1st grade, I started making beaded jewelry. I loved it, and made it for myself and my family members. I also was a regular visitor at a local gift shop in my neighborhood, that featured a lot of local artists, jewelers, etc. Although I was just a kid, I asked if I could sell my jewelry there. The owner was happy to carry my jewelry there, on consignment, and I actually sold pieces! I think that was the beginning for me.
My parents are certainly entrepreneurs, in their own right, as well. They’ve been fantastic role models for me, inspire me, and have shown me what hard work and determination is all about.
Is it important to have mentors and mentor other people? Why?
YES!!! I probably cannot stress that enough. For me, I certainly would not be where I am, or be able to get where I’m going, without advice and mentorship of others. You’ll know who the right people to learn from are. And, if you don’t, reach out to lots of people, especially ones you’ve never met before, who’s work/projects/companies you respect. You might be surprised who will respond and who will take you under their wing to help guide, answer questions, and support you. I also believe in paying it forward. I’m always happy to talk to others who may have questions or need some advice. It’s really important to have a community where people are willing to help each other.
What does success mean to you? What does it mean to “be successful”?
I think “success” can definitely be a subjective thing. For me, success doesn’t necessarily come in the form on money. Sure, making money, especially profit, is great, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s more to it than that. You can win the lotto, and make lots of money, but I wouldn’t think of that as success, I’d consider that luck. When you put in work to provide something, develop something, and others, including yourself, can benefit in some way from whatever that is, and you enjoy doing it, that’s success, to me.
What is some advice you can offer our readers and other entrepreneurs that are reading your interview?
That’s tricky haha. There are lots of things I’ve learned, but one thing would be to build relationships with others in and outside of your “space”. For me, working in food, and not coming from any sort of formal training or food background, I didn’t have community, or friends to turn to to ask questions, or get advice from. So, I made myself reach out to people through cold-contact, walking up to vendors at food markets, and really putting myself a bit out there, in order to see who would be willing to connect, meet for a coffee, and allow me to pick their brains and ask questions. Now, I’m pretty shy and introverted when approaching strangers, so, I had to think of the bigger picture, and fearlessly reach out. You don’t need a ton of these people, but the more opinions, suggestions, thoughts, advice that you can gather, the better it is, and the more connections and relationships you’ll make. These people will be your support system, your friends, your mentors, and, in my case, collaborators too. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people in the food space and beyond, and being able to work with them and join forces.