Wondermade: A Story of Love, Craft + Quality Materials

Wondermade began as an act of love. Husband-and-wife owners, Nathan and Jenn Clark began crafting homemade marshmallows that their friends and family could not live without, and now the specialty marshmallows described as “fun to eat, fun to share, made with 100% sweet, magic air,” are taking off across the country.

Wondermade marshmallows are not your run-of-the-mill, mass-market ‘mallows. Wondermade specializes in hand-crafted marshmallows featuring exotic flavors such as Orangesicle, Key Lime Pie, Honey, Lavender, Root Beer, Lemonade and Blackberry.  Grown-up flavors include beer, bourbon, gold champagne and fireball (made with fireball cinnamon whiskey).

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They even have an adorable cafe in Sanford, Florida (near Orlando), where customers can sample exclusive flavors and treats, like new handcrafted popsicles.  With fun products and whimsical design, Wondermade’s branding is lighthearted, but Nathan and Jenn are makers who are serious about their craft.

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They pour as much love into their marshmallows as they do their image. Great attention to detail goes into every batch of their product and their commitment to quality extends through the entire brand experience, including logo design, product packaging and printing.

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According to Nathan, “We obsess over every ingredient and every step of the cooking process to bring you the best marshmallows around. We wanted someone who cared that much about design for our logo, and someone who cared that much about printing for our boxes. We partnered with Heads of State out of Philadelphia for the branding and design work we needed. Then we took their work to Studio on Fire for their incredible work with their antique letterpresses. They’re both remarkable teams and we can’t recommend either highly enough.”

Recently we had a chance to catch up with Nathan Clark, Chief Marshmallow Agent at Wondermade and Sam Michaels, Senior Designer of Studio on Fire, to talk about the fine art of handcrafting marshmallows and the importance of using the finest materials – from product to packaging.

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What inspired you to choose Wondermade as the name of your business?

Nathan: There’s a Psalm where David wrote “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” That idea that every person was made with wonder has always resonated with me. And if you believe we’re made in God’s image, then that would mean part of our job is to also make things with that same application of wonder. So “Wondermade” serves as a constant reminder both of how we want to treat people and of the approach to creating that we needed to take. Plus who doesn’t love a little more wonder in their life?!

Which flavor did you make first? Any new flavors in development?

Nathan: The first marshmallows we ever made were passion fruit. I gave my wife, Jenn, the recipe for marshmallows and a candy thermometer for Christmas. It turned out that the recipe allowed for all sorts of flavors, so when my brother gave us passion fruit concentrate we knew that’s where we should start. Since then we’ve worked through hundreds of flavors including more outlandish possibilities like sriracha, champagne covered with hand applied 24k gold or peanut butter and jelly (a back to school favorite!). We actually have a weekly marshmallows delivery service – the Taste Adventure Club – so every week we ship a new flavor which definitely keeps us on our toes!

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Have you and Jenn always loved marshmallows?

Nathan: Like most people, we’ve always liked marshmallows. But I don’t think either of us realized that marshmallows were really worth loving until we started making them ourselves. Those marshmallows – the kind made with really great ingredients like lavender extract, high-end bourbon or wildflower honey – that’s what made us fall in love with mallows.

Family is very important to you. How would you describe your family life?

Nathan: Our hands are pretty full with 5 young kids – we just try to take things one day at a time. As you can imagine our kids really love growing up around Wondermade. I think the older kids especially love taking what they think are ‘secret trips’ to Wondermade for a s’mores when they bike down to the library.

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Wondermade’s commitment to quality extends through their entire brand, from small batch production to packaging and printing. Tell us how attention to detail connects Wondermade and Studio on Fire.

Nathan: Part of what’s been so much fun for us is finding other people as passionate about their craft as we are about marshmallows. For us to really succeed we can’t just make a really great marshmallow – we also need to be able to package it really well. You’d never wrap a loved one’s Christmas gift in scrap paper because you always want the recipient to feel the entirety of how much you care about them, even from that first touch. So working with Mohawk and Studio on Fire is really a joy for us because that’s what helps us communicate just how much we value and appreciate our customers.

Sam: Our immediate reaction was to say that our letterpress printing is as visually pleasing as a Wondermade marshmallow is tasty… but then we realized that’s a nerdy thing to say… but then we realized we’re pretty nerdy…So, continuing on with our nerdy thoughts, let’s compare Wondermade and Studio On Fire in the structure of one of those SAT analogies: Wondermade is to marshmallows as Studio On Fire is to letterpress printing. We’re in completely different realms of creation but we both care so much about what we’re doing (we often say the secret recipe to making anything is plenty of give-a-s&*@).

Wondermade isn’t interesting in making a big ‘ol bag of mallows that you buy in the supermarket, the same way we’re not interested in printing a zillion junk mail flyers. Everything we create at Studio On Fire is custom. No templates, no stock imagery, just the desire to create something totally cool; we’re thinking Wondermade has an equivalent approach to the marshmallow game. We love partnering with people who are passionate about what they do. Wondermade is an amazing example of this kind of partnership.

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Tell us more about the Letterpress printing for Wondermade packaging.

Sam: Wondermade packaging is letterpress printed on our largest Heidelberg cylinder press, which can accommodate a 21 x 28 sheet. Each box runs through the press a total of 4 times. There is a common blue ink and a common black ink, with a third variable ink. The variable ink uses a common plate, allowing us to keep a common set-up, just doing a wash-up between colors. The fourth (and final) trip through the press is on our Italian Saroglia press for the diecut.

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What kind of paper do you use for Wondermade packaging?

Sam: Mohawk Loop Antique Vellum Milkweed 160# Cover

Why was Mohawk Loop selected for packaging?

Sam: Previous to using this stock, the boxes had colored interiors which required us to create a custom duplexed stock. As Wondermade grew and higher quantities were needed, we worked with Nathan to come up with a more cost-effective solution. Eliminating the colored interiors allowed us to skip the duplexing step, but then we needed to select a stock strong enough on its own. The Mohawk 160# cover had the rigidity that was needed and the Milkweed color was an ideal color substitution for what had previously been used. Mohawk is used for the majority of the Wondermade packaging that we produce.

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What unique & exciting partnerships is Wondermade currently working on?

Nathan: We’re partnered with some pretty cool shops around the country. We’re also working with Triscuit as a part of their Makers of More advertising campaign. That’s been really fun for us because even though Triscuit is part of a huge company, we’ve got a shared philosophy of using simple ingredients to make a better product. So they asked us to come up with a recipe featuring our marshmallows and their crackers, which they’ve been running in ads all summer.

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We understand you were recently a featured speaker at TEdxFargo? Tell us about the experience.

Nathan: TEDxFargo was amazing! Fargo is such a great city, full of energy and these amazing creative and entrepreneurial people. I talked about love & marshmallows – what happens we we’re the people who are willing to bring love into our relationships and business. That’s what we try to do at Wondermade. We aspire to work and live as if our lives are gifts intended to be given away. It’s part of our family’s DNA and since we have this broader view of family that really extends to Wondermade as well, it’s how we try to do everything.

All photos courtesy of Wondermade and Studio on Fire.

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