James Middleton Thinks Personalised Marshmallows Can be the Future of Greeting Cards
James Middleton is game for anything. When asked to pose for a promotional Instagram photo for this interview, the spirited businessman promptly set down his cup of joe and suggested doing a jumping shot. “If we’re doing this, it’s got to be good.” he said, before leaping with a big smile, limbs sprawled out in all directions.
Given his easy-going and affable personality, it may come as surprise that the 28-year-old hails from the Middleton household, arguably the most closely-watched family in the world. You may have heard of his elder sister Kate — better known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — the future queen consort of England and mother of the heir to the British Monarchy.
For his part, Middleton keeps a low profile and devotes all his attention to Boomf, his three-year-old marshmallow personalisation company. The business specialises in manufacturing square-shaped marshmallows that can be used as canvases for anything your heart desires — selfies, emojis, or messages of appreciation. A set of printed marshmallows, arranged in 3-by-3 grids and gift wrapped in colourful Italian wrapping paper, retails for HK$195.
“Marshmallows are a very sociable type of confectionery,” Middleton said. “You can always spot them at parties or special occasions.” Boomf, he posits, is like an edible greeting card that’s more personal than the store-bought variety, while still able to fit in a mailbox.
“We take thousands of photos every year and do almost nothing with them,” he said. “Having a physical presence of the moment — other than just posting it on social media — can really capture the emotion and not let it fade into a distant digital memory.” That said, the brand’s Instagram presence remains strong: the cheeky confections, printed with everything from Hello Kitty to Queen Elizabeth (who happens to be great-granny to his nephew and niece), have made appearances on the Instagram feeds of popular bloggers.
According to figures quoted in the Daily Telegraph, Boomf posted a 600% growth in business in 2015. Middleton is setting his sights on Asia as part of the company’s expansion plan. An avid lover of Asian food, he plans on spending more time in Hong Kong in the coming months and is currently shopping for retail spaces for Boomf’s first international outpost. (The brand currently operates a flagship at London’s Selfridges department store.)
Hong Kong Tatler Dining caught up with the entrepreneur at PMQ’s Hong Kong Food Truck Festival, where he is making an appearance to support his company’s booth, to get his thoughts on being an uncle to the most famous toddlers in the world, future marshmallow flavours, and his thoughts on Hong Kong.
4 Things You Should Know About James Middleton
On His First Fondest Marshmallow Memories
“My first memories of eating marshmallows is when I was in boarding school — I remember trying to fill as many marshmallows as I could into a hot chocolate. Another great memory was melting them over a bonfire during camping trips. It was all about having a lot of fun and a getting a sugar rush.”
On His Reasons for Coming to Hong Kong
“Hong Kong is our second largest market. It’s a great place to present our new products and ideas because people here are so forward-thinking and excited to try new things. There’s such a great gifting culture here: People love giving gifts as much as they do receiving them.”
On His Famous Family
“Being an uncle, I’ve got to be more creative with my gifts rather than just coming up with what I do at work. My family members are my guinea pigs: They have been so supportive and I get the most honest feedback from them. But frankly, they are a bit bored of my marshmallow chat.”
On What’s Next in Store for Boomf
“Our vegetarian marshmallows will be launched very soon. We’re also working on developing a matcha flavour, which would be perfect for a place like Hong Kong. The next thing we’re looking at is a personalised message box with voice recordings, like a musical greeting card. We were joking around that drone deliveries will probably be next!”