French Insider Podcast Episode 16: Growing Your Business in the US and Canada: The Story of Maman and the Power of Social Media


In this episode of French Insider, Benjamin Sormonte, co-founder and co-owner of Maman, the French bakeries and cafes known for making Oprah’s favorite chocolate chip cookies, 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 Sormont

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 is known for its delicious menu of hearty farm fresh salads, quiches, sandwiches, and of course pastries and sweets, including a famous nutty chocolate chip cookie that was named one of ‘Oprah’s favorite things’” in 2017 and one of the best chocolate chip cookies in New York by NY Magazine.

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.

Contact Information:

Benjamin Sormonte, co-founder and co-owner of Maman:

Additional Resources:

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