The last time we checked in with James Middleton – the youngest Middleton sibling – he was going Full Rob Kardashian and launching a company that screenprints your Instagrams on marshmallows (which is better: Middleton marshmallows or Kardashian socks?). James Middleton’s career right now is printing stuff on marshmallows. For real. He calls the company Boomf, and it looks like they’re already a success! Boomf has raked in £100,000 in just three months. WTF?! And James isn’t as reticent about talking to the press as his big sisters. Not that I actually think that Pippa and Kate don’t speak to the press, but they usually don’t sit down for full-on interviews, which is what James did with the London Evening Standard. You can read the full piece here, and here are some highlights:
He was “11 or 12” when he got his first job: “I was up at 5.30am to work as a fruit picker. I made my cash in gooseberries — no one else wanted to do prickles, but I had a technique. From 6am to 9am I’d be picking for those pre-picked packs that lazy people buy. I made 400 quid. And I spent it on an old car.” But surely you couldn’t drive? “No. But the point was that I loved taking things apart and putting things back together. And it’s the same with what I’m doing now with the marshmallows.”
His beard: James has a beard too, not a shaggy Brad Pitt one but a regal affair, with up-swirling curlicues, which he likes “to twizzle”. He looks like Tsar Nicholas II (“God don’t, everyone keeps saying that,”) down to the heavy lids and pronounced eyebrows.
Intriguing marshmallows: “People are intrigued by them,” Middleton says in his plum tone. “Nobody’s ever seen this before. There have been some wonderful comments back from people — like, ‘the internet is now complete’. It takes all the sophisticated things that the internet is now doing and turns it into something as simple as a marshmallow….When people look at them they say, ‘what are they?’ And you say, ‘they are marshmallows.’ And they say, ‘No way. Those are marshmallows?’ So there’s a dialogue that starts to happen.”
Smutty marshmallows: “If we happen to spot an image that we don’t think is acceptable we will remove it from the production line and send a contact to the customer saying, ‘these are inappropriate.’ Some will get through and some won’t. But we feel that actually what people want to do with their marshmallows is up to them. If they want to be juvenile or fun or however you want to see it, then,” he shrugs, “it’s up to them….It would be crude for us to say that we’d print anything.” He sweeps the table with his hand. “You have to create boundaries.”
Most common marshmallows: “Cats, boyfriends and girlfriends — lots of pets — and selfies.”
The Middleton business sense: “Running your own business is a huge amount of fun, but there’s also a huge amount of seriousness so actually they level out.” He chuckles that for weeks: “I’d just be talking about the stickiness of the marshmallow.” He worked out the recipe (“I tried every type of gelatin on the market, believe me,”) in the Reading-based kitchens of his first company Nice Cakes, which he still runs but has £36,000 of debts (“we are going through a bit of a change at the moment”).
Lessons from Carole & Michael: “[We] all had experience within the family business. For Mum and Dad… work and home is family, so work is family and home is family. We grew up with that.” Pippa’s book Celebrate — for which she received a £400,000 advance — also developed the family theme with recipes and “tips” for parties. “[As a family], we’re great at doing it, it’s about producing many different mediums to be able to celebrate. Celebrations are great fun. Bunting and this and that and the other.”
Supportive Middletons: “I love my family very much and I’m very, very close to [them]. I support everything every single person in my family does and vice versa.”
Dropping out Edinburgh University after one year: “My parents were very keen for me to stay. I’d done resits during my year out because my initial grades weren’t good enough, so they saw that I’d worked harder than hard to get there. But as an adult it was my first big decision and I’m so pleased with it because it’s given me confidence in decisions I’ve made since. There is a lot of pressure put on people to go to university, when actually, as long as you are driven about what you want to do, it’s not the be all and end all.”
His relationship with Donna Air: “Am I getting married? What a ridiculous question. Um, we’re enjoying our relationship as it is now. We’ve made no future plans, but then I couldn’t see myself doing marshmallows a year ago. If you’d asked me what I would be doing this time next year, it wouldn’t have been marshmallows because I hadn’t had the idea, so things can turn round quickly. But I’m 26. I’m young. She’s 34…” he struggles for a moment as if to remember, “or maybe 33.”
James sounds… odd. But I didn’t know (or I knew and forgot) that he is severely dyslexic, and that’s why he was never the best student and why he ended up dropping out of university. It might be why he seems to have a hard time keeping his companies afloat for longer than a year or two as well. But with Boomf, he does have a business partner, so maybe this will be a success. But it really does strike me that James really IS the Rob Kardashian of the Middleton family – the youngest, the only boy, with older sisters who hog the spotlight. Thank God for sock lines and marshmallow companies.
Also: I’m not really buying this whole “relationship” with Donna Air, are you? It seems like a scheme hatched by Carole Middleton and it doesn’t seem to be sticking.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Boomf’s IG, Fame/Flynet.