Homegrown in the Heartland
The Marshmallow Monkey: we’re all about unique home goods, gifts, fresh flowers and design. Until March of 2019, we had been in downtown Franklin, Indiana, right in the center of the Midwest known as the Heartland. We invite new and old friends from all walks of life to embark on our journey with us as we inspire happiness for your home.
Brandon and I started our business in 2013 as we set out to reclaim the legacy my grandfather’s family business started over 75 years ago. Our roots run deep, both born on the Southside of Indianapolis, Brandon and I were raised less than a mile apart and less than two miles from the very first greenhouse my grandfather’s family built. Nestled on the corner of Edgewood and Harding Streets, grandpa Becker planted the first Hoosier Boy Tomato plant alongside his fellow immigrant gardeners from Germany, while Brandon was raised just a bicycle ride away on the same street. Our paths likely crossed many times before we knew officially knew each other more than 25 years ago.
Brandon and I dreamed about starting a business years before we actually took the leap. We romanticized about “bringing the bygone era back” like generations of the past. Simplifying “life” was important to us and for our family. We needed a new definition of balance: home, health and happiness. We have both been deeply focused on our careers for over half of our lives, and our dream shifted to that of a small town life, small town business, and being part of the community where we could inspire people we met and our community to make this world a little better place than how we found it. For years, we jumped from a business idea to business idea; inspired from our journeys and travel. Then, we reclaimed the two-generation business as it was ready to close and pick up the business where they left off.
We had to quickly embrace the business that started with my grandfather’s two hands. What was once a greenhouse business growing lettuce and tomatoes, evolved to a floral design and interior design business (Literally set up in the original building where lettuce and tomatoes were packaged) to our crazy monkey business, The Marshmallow Monkey. Shortly before we acquired the business, the family property had been sold and our dream to reinstate the greenhouse and farm lifestyle was swiftly gone. We shifted gears not knowing how God was already working to bring our dream to reality. We had plenty of bases to cover before re-launching our version of the business, including a business name. The Marshmallow Monkey was named after our kids, Blaise and Olivia; Blaise who loves marshmallows and Olivia nicknamed monkey because she has clung to us like a monkey since she was a baby.
As grandpa's two-generation business came to a close, we quickly picked up and infused new life into a dying business era of greenhouse growing, floral and interior design. Our hobby of refinishing old worn, but not worn out furniture and reclaiming old relics into new treasures and decorating with them quickly became one of the most dynamic features of the new store. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were about to become resident experts in saving and restoring old buildings, reminding us a lot of my grandpa’s original market shed.
In the beginning, we set up shop in our garage to get our footing with the existing customer base and soon began looking for our first small shop in Franklin, Indiana. It wasn’t long before we opened the doors at our 725 square foot store on Jefferson Street and hit the ground running.
Two years went by fast, we outgrew our small little shop. In August of 2015, we opened our store on Monroe Street just a few blocks from our humble beginning in our tiny shop on Jefferson Street. This was once the historic Richard Bennett Furniture building (originally the Carney Winslow Feed and Seed store) on the town square in Franklin, Indiana. Completely restored, visitors enjoyed a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, our unique home goods and treasures.
Today, six years have passed since our humble beginning, and we have restored two old houses, an apartment above our store along with two historic buildings. Never did we imagine what this crazy ride was preparing us for. But, we also realize more than ever that this journey has been perfectly paved for our newest adventure.
In November of 2018 we bought property with a farmhouse and a barn (we call it our farm). Well, really it’s our interpretation of what grandpa called a Homestead. These years of growth have allowed us to further refine our design skills, streamline our products and services and grow enough to rethink our next adventure. We are humbled by the ongoing support and love all of our customers (well, really friends) show us each and every day.
Nestled just southwest of Franklin in Martinsville is our new homestead and store, where the Marshmallow Monkey will be in the barn on the property. We won’t be open every day, but that’s good because it allows us to spend more time doing design work with our customers, getting to our kids’ games and to be present for the last three years they are at home.
We will continue to evolve our website where you are able to purchase things direct from us; delivered right to your door. Need design help? No need to worry because we can come to your rescue with our House Calls.
We are shifting to online, allowing us much needed family time we have compromised for the past five years, a place to enjoy growing our own flowers, pumpkins and tomatos like grandpa did. We cannot wait to share our homestead, our dream and our favorite homegoods with the world. This exciting move is allowing us to grow our ecommerce business, balance our life and give you the most unique experience when you visit.
This dream would not be a reality without the unwavering support of our customers, business supporters, friends and family. It’s with thankful hearts we send our homegrown love from the Heartland.
Brandon and Nicole