Tricia Arce opened Toasted Mallow four-and-a-half years ago.
The gourmet marshmallow and s’mores bar on Gilbert Road just south of Houston Avenue sells a variety of marshmallow treats, cold-brew coffee, hot chocolate and other dessert
After working in retail management for decades, the death of her beloved grandmother inspired Arce’s surprising career change: Arce did not bake at the time, and she is not even a fan of marshmallows.
“When she passed, I was kind of lost,” Arce said. “I didn’t have a passion for anything. She was my passion.”
Baking to celebrate
A few months after losing her grandmother, Arce decided to enter a baking contest at work. That month the secret ingredient was marshmallows, so she bought herself a mixer, some spoons and started Googling how to make a marshmallow.
“What I found when I was making the marshmallow was that I wasn’t grieving,” Arce said. “I was celebrating her.”
Arce and her strawberry marshmallow creation won that contest at work, and soon she began experimenting with more flavors. She started selling her creations, first to co-workers then in an online Etsy shop and at local farmers markets. Thereafter, she decided to quit her job and chase a new dream.
“I took a leap of faith,” Arce said.
Business comes forth
That is when Toasted Mallow was born. The store was called Fluff It at the time, but Arce changed the name in 2017 to eliminate the confusion for new customers.
“People didn’t really know who we were,” she said. “They thought we were a laundromat. They thought we were a dog groomer.”
There has been a lot of trial and error along the way and some long days, but Arce said she enjoys her work, and she has even learned to like marshmallows—the toasted ones at least.
It is in the kitchen where Arce found happiness in the midst of grief, and now bringing joy to others is one of the best parts of her day.
“When they come in and smell things or when they’re smiling,” Arce said. “Or when they’re like, ‘Oh my God, that was so good.’ That’s exactly what I’m going for.”
1034 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 3, Gilbert
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sun.