Wonderpuff, named one of our readers’ favorite artisanal food products, is slated to open a storefront at Boxyard RTP this month.
By Hannah Lee
When the sun is warm, the breeze is light, and the kids laugh loudly among the vendors who line the streets – on those days, you crave it: Jackie Morin’s cotton candy. The sweet smell of caramelized sugar leads passersby to her magical safe space, Wonderpuff.
Once a pop-up and traveling venture, Wonderpuff is slated to open a permanent storefront at Boxyard RTP this summer. Jackie – in her bright pastel makeup and whimsical ruffle outfits – is the face of the brand. She carries a pleasant innocence and genuine kindness that brings smiles to children and adults alike.
Her sincerity comes from a place of knowing what it’s like to live with anxiety and depression. When she moved from Miami to Durham in 2016, she was “too mentally ill to work,” she says. It was right around the same time that three Muslim students at UNC were murdered in their driveway. As a Caribbean Muslim, Jackie carried the weight of that tragedy – along with many other senseless acts of violence against people of color – personally.
She started making cotton candy, which she’d learned to do while volunteering for a nonprofit in Florida, in her home as an outlet. She has gravitated to her silver industrial machine for more than a decade, losing herself in colorful sugars seamlessly spinning together in order to find purpose again. It was in these moments that Jackie learned to “detach myself from other people’s pain, but also carry their spirits with me,” she says, and rediscovered joy by bringing it to others.
When the pandemic came, Jackie’s cotton candy gave to Durhamites what it first provided for her: a reprieve from the darkest days. “While people were watching ‘Tiger King’ and protesting in the streets,” she says, “they were also craving cotton candy.”
So in late March 2020, Jackie and her husband, Rem Morin, launched Wonderpuff ’s e-commerce side. Their business transitioned from outdoor markets and events to an entirely online concept that swept across social media. Today, Wonderpuff is closing in on nearly 10,000 Instagram followers.
Her platform became about more than just fairy floss; it’s also where she advocates for social justice and unifies women through open conversations.
Maybe that’s why the vegan, organic cotton candy tastes just that much sweeter. Flavors are often inspired by pop stars like Ariana Grande and Doja Cat or by women in her life like sister Jasmine Michel. Sometimes they’re simply born from the natural partnerships that Jackie forms with local businesses like Cocoa Cinnamon and Durham Food Hall.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Jackie says. “We are amplifying one another’s voices.” Wonderpuff ’s Kickstarter campaign in October 2020 exemplified that support: It exceeded its goal of $20,000 to fund vital appliances for its soon-to-be storefront in only a week. The hope is for a grand opening by July, coinciding with Wonderpuff ’s fourth anniversary.
“I can’t wait,” Jackie says. “We have been patiently, impatiently, patiently waiting.”