Little Boo Boo Bakery on Starting a Successful Business in Less than One Year
Explore more of the sweet life with Hannah Scarritt-Selman, founder of the NY-based artisan marshmallow company Little Boo Boo Bakery. In part 3 of a 4-part series, we’ll learn more about the nitty gritty of the business, including timelines, budgets, and the most valuable resources she used along the way.
Give us an idea of your timeline.
- December 2012—made marshmallows for family over the holidays
- January 2013—decided to start company
- Summer 2013—started producing at Hot Bread Kitchen
- July 2013—sold at first open air market
- November 2013—first holiday season with wholesale clients
- 2014—first new website design
- 2015—change in packaging to current design
- May 2015—new website design
- May 2015—participated in Fancy Food Show (trade show)
- Holiday season 2015—holiday season with employees
- March 2016—Launched Matcha Marshmallow with Matcha Bar
Let’s talk startup costs. Can you provide a breakdown of what costs went into getting Little Boo Boo Bakery started? Did you have investors?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: I can’t speak to specific costs, but we’ve been mostly self funded except for a crowdfunding campaign. We have no investors, we’re all self-funded.
What regulations do food-based businesses have to follow in New York?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: I have to have my food handler’s license which addresses good production practices within our production facility. Aside from that, to be a food business that sells to wholesale and retail customers requires various inspections, which can be costly.
What was your biggest expense in founding Little Boo Boo Bakery? What ended up being way more affordable than you’d imagined?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: The biggest expense is the product itself—it took a lot of trial and error to really solidify the recipe to where it is today. Ditto for packaging and design. When I started my company and began to compile a list of all the tasks I'd need to accomplish, I realized I was fully capable of either doing it myself or finding someone who who could do it for me at a reasonable rate. Looking at my community and taking advantage of all the resources available has been a lifesaver in terms of saving money.
What resources were the most helpful in getting the business started?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: Initially I reached out to other food entrepreneurs for guidance. Some of my first conversations began out of cold calling or asking a friend of a friend. At that stage, it was important for me to hear the origin stories of young, hip brands I admired who seemed to have it all figured out. I remember speaking to Grady of Grady’s Cold Brew who said he started his company to answer a question: Why couldn’t iced coffee be a product sold year-round? That’s always been a motivating idea—what is our product the answer to within the marketplace?
I also spoke with Loren of Sweet Loren’s who shared her experience going about acquiring suppliers. She gave the best advice about having confidence in yourself and your product and how that confidence can really go a long way—especially being a female entrepreneur in a field that is still very male heavy.
How did you go about finding suppliers?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: I can’t speak to specific clients, but I did a fair amount of research at retailers whom I wanted to carry our marshmallows. I would go into stores and see if they carried a similar product to our marshmallows (if any marshmallows at all) and what the price points were for the whole store. From there, I’d cold-call and be persistent but respectful. Most of the time that works, however it’s crucial to not attach emotion to failed attempts. We’ve had a few wholesalers who initially said no and but who we now have great working relationships with.
How do you develop the different flavors of marshmallows you sell?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: When coming up with a new flavor, I think a lot about pairings that exists in cocktails, baked goods, or hold some type of personal significance. That being said, there are some flavors that just don’t translate to marshmallows, so the creative process also has some parameters. I’m also interested in working with other brands to highlight interesting flavors in our marshmallows. Our Matcha Marshmallow initially started out as a short-term collaboration with MatchaBar but is now one of our most popular flavors.
Who did you turn to for packaging your products?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: My partner, Kieran Delaney does all of our website, branding and product design.
How do you feel that the packaging/branding for Little Boo Boo Bakery is successful in communicating the values and mission of your brand?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: Our packaging is as simple and clean as possible and you can see exactly the product what you're purchasing. Each bag is hand stamped which is how the actual marshmallow is made. Rather than using a photo of the product, our packaging highlights the product itself.