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Sheppard Mullin's French Insider

Jan 3, 2023

This episode is a replay of Episode 16 which originally aired on October 3, 2022.


In this episode of French Insider, Benjamin Sormonte, co-founder and co-owner of Maman, speaks about building a successful lifestyle brand in North America, including the challenges of bringing a very French experience to a North American audience and the role that Instagram and other social media platforms have played in Maman's success.


What We Discussed in this Episode:


  • Can you tell us a little about your background and how you arrived at the concept of Maman?
  • What challenges did you face in bringing this very French experience to a North American audience?
  • Maman has grown exponentially since first opening in Soho in 2014. As you choose locations for expansion, what drives your decisions?
  • What made you decide to move into Canada?
  • Did you find many differences between an opening in Canada and the U.S.?
  • Maman has become an incredibly successful lifestyle brand. Can you talk a bit about the strategy that went into building that brand?
  • What role have Instagram and other social media platforms played in your marketing?
  • Did you work with consultants when you first started out?
  • In building your customer base, what has worked and what hasn't?
  • What was your experience hiring staff in the U.S. and Canada? What were some challenges?
  • What advice would you have for managing a large workforce in the U.S.?
  • What surprised you most while building your business in the U.S. and Canada? What resources were helpful to you?
  • Did you ever envision that Maman would become the brand it is today?
  • What's one piece of advice you would offer someone seeking to turn their passion project into a successful brand?


About Benjamin Sormonte

A French-born lawyer, Benjamin and his wife, Elisa Marshall, opened the first Maman in 2014. What began as a single, independent Soho bakery and cafe has since grown into a leading lifestyle brand that boasts locations across New York City, Montreal, and Toronto, complete with a line of retail items that allows its loyal following to "take Maman home.”


Maman means "mother" in French and remains a passion project for Benjamin and Elisa, despite the brand's exponential growth. The two have successfully melded their earliest childhood experiences in the kitchen, along with a nod to their mothers from the south of France and North America, into an all-encompassing sensory experience marked by rustic décor at every turn, the aroma and comfort of cuisines inspired by family traditions, and the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients. 


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