Homegrown in the Heartland
The Marshmallow Monkey: we’re all about unique home goods, gifts, fresh flowers and design. Owned by us, Brandon and Nicole Nicoloff, we’re a small town business in historic 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 dream business 5 years ago 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 years before we actually took the leap. We romanticized about “bringing the bygone era back” like generations of the past. It was important to us and for our family. We needed a new definition of balance: a simpler life. 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 that would leave a legacy like my grandpa did; but with a twist. For years, we jumped from a business idea to business idea; inspired from our journeys and travel. Then, when my parents were ready to retire and sunset the two-generation business, we felt a pull to 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 my parents 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. 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 my grandfather’s two-generation business came to a close, we quickly picked up where my parents left off, named the business, 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 quickly became one of the most dynamic features of the new store.
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. Less than a year into the journey, Brandon suggested I quit my job to further grow the business, and right there we decided we were going to commit one hundred percent to our business and customers. So less than a year into the journey, I said goodbye to corporate America and together we created a new-found focus on the small town business, community and family.
Two years have passed, allowing us to further refine our design skills, streamline our products and services and grow enough to need a bigger space and have rapidly begun mapping future business ventures. 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. Our newest location, opened in the historic Richard Bennett Furniture building (originally the Carney Winslow Feed and Seed store) on the town square in Franklin, Indiana. Completely restored, visitors can expect a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and treasures.
Brandon and I are humbled by the ongoing support and love all of our customers (well, really friends) show us each and every day.
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
As many locals know, Bluff Road was a haven to German immigrants who made their living growing produce and flowers in greenhouses. At the early age of six, grandpa had his hands in the dirt growing crops with his uncle. Adolph Becker (pictured here in 1926, age six, with his uncle) harvested tomatoes and with the help of his handy wagon, picked cucumbers.