The MNY Spotlight
Meet Elisa Marshall, the Co-Founder and Owner of Maman NYC
My name is Elisa Marshall, I am the co founder & owner of maman, a mother of 2, Yves (2.5), a brand new baby boy, Rêve & and freelance consultant and interior designer. I am a lover and creator of all things beautiful, from food to events, to spaces.
Quote I live by: ‘I am going to make everything around me beautiful, and that will be my life’ Elsie De Wolf
Elisa wears the Savannah Caftan in navy/silver sequin
Before I opened Maman, I felt that I was doing a little bit of everything, but nothing whole heartedly. I had a 9 to 5 job in PR & Marketing, wedding planning on weekends and had a side hustle catering sweets along with interior decorating - all my passions. When looking for a ‘career’, nothing spoke to me as I wanted a job that encompassed everything I loved. I wanted to create a world for myself where I could combine all my passions: food, baking, coffee, interior design, branding, events, friends & family. There was really no job, so I had to invent it.
Scaling and maintaining all of the small details that make us special I would say has been the biggest challenge. I am a sucker for detail and design, and I found the biggest challenge in business, as we grew from 1 store to 10, has been letting go and not sweating the small stuff, which is a personal struggle for me. I cannot be there daily at all locations and over the years, I’ve had to learn to pick my battles and ultimately realize that people may not see or care about these things like I do. We may not get a bad yelp review if the frame in the washroom is not straight, but we may if the cookies are burnt, so I need to realize where to focus my energy more often!
My daily go to is a large americano with a splash of milk (in a pretty cup of course!). As for sweets, I am obsessed with our homemade Oreo! We are best known for our Nutty Chocolate Chip cookies, but if you have yet to try our Oreo it’s a must!
My biggest piece of advice when starting your own business in any industry, is to identify your weaknesses. We all have our strengths, and often times it is very easy to point those out and know exactly what you excel at, but it is also very important to identify your weaknesses and what you are not good at. For examples numbers were never my thing and we would have closed down within a week of business if I had anything to do with the books so I ensured that I had someone to cover me in that department. Identifying your own business weaknesses, and then, ensure you have help and support in those areas. Don't think that you can do it all yourself.
I loved the cookbook making process and I would have to say that there are two distinct parts that stood out to be the most exciting! We were very fortunate that the development process landed right over Covid quarantine, so like so many others who were stuck at home cooking, we were actually ‘working’ and recipe testing. It was a big, but fun, challenge to turn our bulk commercial recipes into at home versions. It is not simple math as many may think and takes lots of trial and error so we had fun with experimenting (and eating of course)!
My other favorite part was the photoshoot! It was a daily 2 week long process where I worked with my incredible team, including photographers & food stylists and learned so much of what goes on behind the scenes for professional food shoots. It was so much fun trying to shape and capture elements of maman, from the food to the space in hopes that the book would provide a little escape into the world of maman for those who have never visited own of our locations.
Shop Maman: The Cookbook
The biggest challenge we face (and still are facing) is scaling & still trying to maintain maman’s warmth, charm, & attention to details. Our first café was really a labor of love. We hand picked, sanded & painted ever vintage chair, our mix matched antique blue & white service wear was a collection from grandma’s china hutch, antique markets and our travels around the world and our highchair was my fathers original one from 1940’s to name a few. All those elements (along with my obsessive love for attention to detail) helped to create the ambiance of maman – and now at 20 locations, of course so many of those are not feasible or scalable. We still ensure that at least 70% of the furniture in store are repurposed vintage items while we have had to let go on some of the more practical things like chairs…and to be honest in a commercial space, new ones are much more practical & durable! The one things I am holding my ground on and although an ongoing challenge is our vintage service wear. I refuse to let that go and have way too much fun antiquing constantly buying up all the blue & white floral I can find!
I hope to be able to empower, nourish and encourage my children’s creativity. I grew up with both of my parents being entrepreneurs and very creative people. I feel that so often academics is put at a forefront, but it was always instilled in me at a young age to follow my passion and I was always empowered to chase my dreams & try new things as opposed to being forced to go a specific academic route where I see so many of my friends have ended up unhappy with their careers.
To me the Mestiza brand captures femininity in a playful yet sophisticated way. Their passion for detail and love of pattern (especially blue & white) speaks directly to me and so many women out there making them feel beautiful, confident and radiant with every piece that they put on!