Our Story

//  HOW IT STARTED  //

Two University of Arkansas alumni, Lauren Blanco and Preston Stewart pulled together their savings in 2014 to buy their first pieces of chocolate making equipment.

Lauren, with a background in cultural anthropology and French, spent 5 years working in grassroots economic development in war torn countries where she saw business as a force of good and encountered her first cacao farm. Driven to make a positive difference in the cacao supply chain, she leads the company's strategy, creative direction, and product development.

Preston's background in chemistry and a passion for food science led him to the technical and scientific approach to chocolate making. After tasting craft chocolate for the first time, he dove headfirst into flavor creation and machine tinkering to figure out the process of making chocolate from scratch.

//  HOW IT'S GOING  //

Today, Lauren leads the company as sole proprietor and CEO. 

Markham & Fitz now distributes chocolate to 39 states, 6 countries, and was featured in 100 Anthropologie stores around the United States in Spring of 2020. In April 2020, Markham & Fitz was included in The O Magazine for their sustainability issue. The company was selected as Women Owned Small Business of the Year by the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce in 2020. At 29 years old, Lauren was selected as a Tory Burch Fellow, and was recognized in Northwest Arkansas Business Journal's Forty Under 40, the same year the company's Ooh La Lavender bar won a Good Food Award

OUR MANIFESTO

At Markham & Fitz, we celebrate people, creativity and craft.
We honor the invisible woven network of people and plants that sustains our lives & livelihoods. We believe that truly good things take time, intention, and an unrelenting commitment to a more just world.

OUR VALUES

  • Celebrate People
  • Choose Sustainability
  • Produce Excellence
  • See the Good

 

A COMPANY TIMELINE

August 2014

Sold Our First Chocolate Bars

Originally known as "Hello Cocoa," we sold our first chocolate bars at the Fayetteville Roots Festival on August 1, 2014.

October 2017

Rebrand to Markham & Fitz

As we prepared to open our first brick and mortar location in Bentonville, we improved our chocolate making processes and launched a whole new line of chocolate bars. We became Markham & Fitz.

December 2017

Opened Dessert Bar & Cafe

We opened our doors at the 8th Street Market in Bentonville to serve our first desserts and cocktails.

January 2019

Won Good Food Award for Ooh La Lavender

January 2019

Achieved National Distribution

A Priori, a boutique United States distributor with a focus on the world's finest chocolates, added us to their competitive catalog.

March 2020

Published in Oprah Magazine

In the April Sustainability Issue, we were thrilled to add this to our milestones. This kind of national recognition has been a validation of our dedication to craft, ethics & sustainability.