As human beings, we yearn to find our calling. We seek to figure out what gives meaning to our lives and how we can pursue it. Sometimes, though, the path we decide to take will not lead us directly to our purpose. And whether we like it or not, we have to finish one chapter of our lives, just to turn the page to start all over again. But what if all the winding roads we are afraid to take are all suppose to lead us to an exact moment of where we are meant to be? From a distance, our destination may look blurry; a far reach from where we are now. But rather than mourning the journey, it’s best to savor each moment as a way to grow and learn — well, that’s how today’s Boss Babe life ended up.
For Elisa Marshall, her heart gravitated toward multiple passions. From fashion to event planning to weddings, she loved them all. After graduating college, Marshall worked in fashion where she got to explore the PR world. And even though she was great at it, her job wasn’t fueling her soul. It wasn’t until after she met her partner in life and business partner, Ben, that things would change. After working together overseas, helping build a restaurant from the ground up, they decided to make their own dream a reality by opening a small cafe/event space in NYC called Maman. This cafe allowed Marshall to combined her love of event planning, baking, style and interior design. Now it’s a staple in NYC and we, amongst countless New Yorkers, just can’t get enough. All in all, even though it took Marshall a while to find her true calling, she ended up right where she needed to be.
We got to hang with Elisa in her stylish home where we got to chat about Maman, her favorite designer, and the best way she chooses to decompress. Meet the multi-talented babe, Elisa Marshall.
Toronto, Ontario Canada
Fave childhood meal:
My maman’s homemade Mac & Cheese
Best product for the curly-haired girl:
Frizz Ease, my hair drinks it!
Ultimate way to relax after a stressful day:
In bed with a glass of red wine & super cozy PJ’s
Must-have item from Maman:
Homemade Oreo Cookie
Fashion designer you can’t get enough of:
Must-visit restaurant in Canada:
Maman, of course
Productivity app you can’t live without:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you and your SO opened Maman.
It all started on our second date when Ben (maman co-founder with me) said he wanted to open a restaurant and I replied with, I want to open a bakery… and here we are five years later! I was a wedding planner at the time with a 9 to 5 in fashion PR, and he was a lawyer.
We both had corporate jobs that I can say we were not 100% passionate about, and grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit instilled to us by both our fathers who were entrepreneurs as well.
We had an amazing opportunity to team up with some friends of Ben’s who were in the hospitality industry and work oversees, literally building and running a restaurant from ground up…hospitality school 101! We did that for a few years and had a great time and learned a lot, but realized that the location (Ibiza) and evening/bar business was not for us. We spent our ‘off seasons’ in NYC, where I had the dream to open a small cafe, coffee shop and event space, thinking I could juggle it all and just have it as a ‘side gig’ but my dreams very quickly became reality and when Maman first opened its doors we had a great reaction and support from the community and media, and we knew we had something special so decided to shift our focus and turn our little side project into a big brand!
In a previous interview, you’ve mentioned that you never really knew what you wanted to be when you were little because you loved a little bit of everything. How did you know what path to take or learned how to not feel overwhelmed with all your passions?
I am still struggling with learning how not to feel overwhelmed. I think in this industry, and especially in this city, it can be very overwhelming at times… but that is also a great source of motivation, and what keeps me going! As for the path, Maman to me was kind of the place where all the roads came together and met — a place where I could combine and do a little bit of everything that I loved!
You originally went to school for fashion. Do you feel that experience had a creative impact when it came to opening Maman?
For sure! I tapped into many facets of the fashion industry over the years, where I learned many skills that stay with me today. I started studying design, moved into sales, then found my self on the PR side of things… and as much more glamorous as that industry is, many of the same principals apply. From elements of design in the build out of our location, to sales techniques, if I am trying to upsell a buyer to add on a top with their jeans, or a customer to get a matcha latte with their croissant, you use the same techniques. I just used to dress much better doing it!
What would you say is the greatest risk you’ve taken during your career?
There are so many elements of risk that you encounter starting your own business, from financial to personal, but I think the scariest one would be when we opened our second location (Toronto). We were no longer a tiny ‘mom and pop’ shop, developing into a ‘brand’ and not only expanding, but doing it in a different country!
Best places to help decompress?
My home. It is tiny and cozy but filled with so many things that I love, each of what has wonderful stories and memories.
While working with your significant other seems like a dream come true, sometimes work stress can impact the relationship. If any, what are some tricks or things you and Ben do to maintain a healthy dynamic between the both of you?
In work and in our personal lives we have specific roles, and we are fortunate that that came very naturally to us! From baking to cooking or sales and analytics — what I am bad at, he is exceptionally good at and vice versa. I think it’s important in a relationship, in work or play, that all elements are divided and your strengths are highlighted. If we were both active and loved one aspect of the business that is where you can start stepping on toes and friction starts!
Describe your personal living philosophy:
I can wrap it all up in my favorite quote: “I am going to make everything around me beautiful — that will be my life.”― Elsie De Wolfe
You’re an advocate for saying “yes” to almost anything. How do you feel this lifestyle choice influenced your career and personal endeavors?
It made me really, really tired. 😉 But in all honesty, saying “yes” opens a world of doors and opportunities that saying “no” shuts down. People say “no” so often because of fear, because it’s the easy answer and way out, or because of things they don’t understand. But saying “yes” to the five min cup of coffee with a stranger you may typically say “no” too could change your life forever, so why not?
At the end of the day, what is the one thing you wish people would remember you by?
Creating beautiful spaces and environments where people can enjoy themselves, their company and make wonderful memories!
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
I could have never imagined myself doing what I am doing today five years ago so this is a hard question, but I would love to see Maman develop into full lifestyle brand and for me personally to develop into a real ‘maman’ with a couple of little ones and a puppy…or two.
Any advice for future Boss Babes?
“Create a world for yourself you love…and coffee…lots of coffee!”
Written by Raven Ishak
Photography by Vanessa Granda