Fluff Piece on Alumna with MBA

College of Charleston Magazine, Alumni

A classically trained pastry chef, Alexx Shuman ’18 (MBA) utilized her master’s to start a sweet business.

Whether you’re putting them in hot cocoa or roasting them over a campfire, marshmallows can be enjoyed at any time of year and at any age – especially when it’s a gourmet confection from entrepreneur Alexx Shuman ’18 (MBA). The classically trained pastry chef is the owner of The Vermont Marshmallow Co., based in South Burlington, Vt.  

Shuman “accidentally” started the venture when she went home to South Burlington for the holidays in 2018 and decided to do an online pop-up to sell marshmallows –  a treat she always enjoyed making with her family as a child – and was blown away by the response. Now, she runs a kitchen with four employees and ships flavors like dulce de leche and buttered rum across the nation. 

“I always make them flavorful and textural enough that you can just eat them straight out of the bag,” says Shuman. “I want it to be simple, and I want it to be accessible. My favorite thing that people do with them is put them in their morning coffee. It kind of adds magic to your mornings.” 

Before attending the MBA program at the College, Shuman worked in the restaurant industry. She trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and holds a degree from the New England Culinary Institute. She worked in fine dining, but the realities of the restaurant industry made her question her career choice.  

“When I went to get my master’s, I thought that I was done working in food, and I wasn’t necessarily happy about that,” says Shuman. “I loved food. I thought that it was what I wanted to do.”  

She thought she could perhaps go into marketing after attending the School of Business. “I saw the MBA program at the College as my one-year boot camp in the world of business,” she says. “I had no idea that coming out of it almost immediately, it was going to be the beginning of my life of entrepreneurship. I never saw that for myself until the day that it happened. 

Alexx Shuman makes marshmallows

“I saw the marshmallows through the lens of everything that I learned, really, in the MBA program,” she adds. “I was like, ‘Here’s what the operation side of this would look like; here’s what e-commerce might look like; and oh, the marketing of this could be really interesting.’ And at the same time it kind of activated the culinary creativity that I hadn’t been able to feel in a long time.”  

She added a shop to her personal blog and told everyone she knew, and the response was 10 times what she expected, with more than $1,000 in sales the first week. Now she runs a profitable business that puts its employees first.  

“I actively avoid the patterns I experienced in the restaurant industry and see my primary responsibility as CEO is to ensure a through line of joy from the moment we develop the recipe to the moment our customers pop a marshmallow out of the bag,” says Shuman. “I truly believe we can taste the difference when food is made by happy, healthy, thriving hands. It turns out ‘people over profit’ is an extremely profitable way to run a business.”

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