Life is Sweet

One of the things Handmade loves most about Canberra is the gathering success of small business ventures that are changing the city’s landscape. With momentum gained from popularity on the street and social media endorsements, these businesses are changing the Canberra landscape and putting our capital city on the cool map.

Sitting within the architecturally magnificent ORI building on Braddon’s Lonsdale Street, is one such small enterprise. Frugii is not unknown in Canberra, but we at Handmade want to shout more about John and Ed Marshall’s dessert laboratory because it is the perfect tale of how a handmade product can take on the world.

When I visited Ed (short for Edna) Marshall, there was a steady stream of customers tasting and selecting from the mouthwatering array of sweet treats. She and her husband John (the dessert alchemist) insist that one of them will always be present in the shop to talk to customers and keep it personal, but in only five months, they have gone from just two to a staff of more than ten.


Clockwise from left: Ed (left) and some of the team in the shop; John Marshall, the Dessert Alchemist; some of the sweet treats available from Frugii.

A lifelong love of food was just a hobby for John when he and Ed moved to Australia from England. He had spent time in IT “mainly because his school teachers said he had no aptitude for it” says Ed, until he started experimenting with an ice cream maker at home. He was drawn to the challenge and science of ice cream making and fascinated by how ingredients affected the texture and taste. He started sending small samples to local restaurants to taste and after a year, small orders started to come in. They converted a granny flat at their home into a working kitchen and it now houses 14 litre machines and a 120 litre pasturiser.

A regular spot at the Farmers Markets at EPIC gave them their first opportunity to sell to the general public, quickly followed by the Southside Markets, the Old Bus Depot Markets and of course, the Handmade Markets. Special orders from several local IGA stores helped their growing popularity and it finally led to the shop in the ORI building. After a beautiful rebrand, they opened in January this year, quickly attracting queues out of the door.

Frugii Develpment

Progress pictures of the shop development from empty shell to gorgeous laboratory.

Why? Because this is no ordinary ice cream. John sources the best raw ingredients and makes his own extracts. He roasts and stone grinds his pistachios, creates his own chocolate and never includes anything but the pure ingredients in the finished product. No additives, no preservatives and no colour. The core ice cream flavours are vanilla, salted butter caramel and dark chocolate gelato, but to complement these, there are specials such as hot cross bun, feijoa and lemon myrtle, along with fabulous choux, verrines and whatever deliciousness John has concocted with his chef, Dan.

The shop is so successful, that Handmade is now the only regular market that Frugii attends. Don’t miss their stall at the next markets on 6th & 7th June and check out Frugii’s special offer in our next newsletter (you can subscribe here).

Having thanked Ed for her time, I asked her what businesses she wanted to pass the Canberra Love onto. Dinner Rush home food delivery was her choice, for “beautiful flavour” and convenience. And what does she like best about Canberra? “Space,” she said, “and it’s got everything you want if you’re prepared to go and find it”.

Including the world’s best ice cream.




Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Handmade Style, the newsletter and the online magazine. When she's not hanging out with the lovely Handmade team, she runs Callie & Co Design, a Canberra graphic design studio that crafts brands for small businesses. Her favourite things about Canberra are the seasons (especially Autumn), the big sky, the coffee and the great events.


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