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A Recipe for Success: An Afternoon at Maman

STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – PHOTOS BY Bridget Badore for The Style Line

Simply put, some things are

better in pairs. Speaking more to that idea, it gives us great pleasure to introduce today’s story featuring Candice Kaye and Elisa Marshall – two best friends, creative entrepreneurs, and all-around inspiring women.
Through their respective endeavors, this inspiring duo embodies the very definition of bridging the gap between passion and profession. Elisa, the owner of the newly opened cafe Maman NYC has created a haven that cultivates community through food. Turning to Candice, a visionary textile designer, they were able to work together to bring the energic and feminine spirit of Maman to life. “Calling upon Candice was another way to make the project so personal and include the community, as not only is she one of my great friends, she is SO talented – and the world needs to see that,” Elisa told us in our interview below. “I trusted her entirely and had a vision of what I wanted, and she excited 10x better than what I would have imagined!”

With this in mind, witnessing how Elisa and Candice’s working relationship and friendship translated into the cafe’s energy firsthand, was truly empowering. In fact, Candice attributes a lot of her inspiration by the motivation from their day-to-day conversations. “You put Elisa and me in a room together, and we will leave the conversation two to three hours later with a new idea (that’s probably so insane and out of this world),” Candice explained. “That is what it’s all about. Constantly pushing yourself to explore different territories.”

Without giving too much away, read on to learn about Elisa and Candice and the stories behind Maman that have made it a destination like no other. Also, enjoy exclusive photos from our morning captured by Bridget Badore for The Style Line.

Please introduce yourselves!

Candice: Hi! My work is a large reflection of who I am to be honest. I’m that girl sitting alone in a cafe with her sketch book and a pencil. Alone time, I value that a lot. I’m a very independent person, a borderline loner. I enjoy creating. I get excited when I have conversations about new ideas. What do I value most in life? My family. I’m a huge family person. My best friends are my sisters and little brother. Poor guy. He always gets left out. I’ve been blessed with a huge family. My first cousins have lived next door to us since before I was born.

One big backyard and dinner tables that can fit about 20 [and growing] people at once! They are a huge inspiration to me. My older sister is a badass [can I say that?] criminal lawyer, my little sister is going to Med school, and my Mom and little brother are both very business savvy. They are the people I go to for advice. One “No” and I change the entire design.

Elisa: This is a tough one as who I am outside of my profession has become my profession! When you open your own business there is not much of an outside life… At least not yet! I am fortunate I was able to combine my passion for all the things I love and do them every day for a living. From baking to designing, creating, marketing, selling and working with people directly. But what else do I enjoy? Ice cream, sleeping, surprises, laughing, cozy scarves, sappy love songs and my dog! As for what I value the most that is my friends and family. I am fortunate during all of my crazy adventures and moves over the past few years as they have all been so supportive. To traveling and moving all over and pursuing this project, I have had very little personal time to spend with friends and family as I have in the past, but without their encouragement, I don’t think I would be where I am now.

Finally, I hugely value my boyfriend, business partner and best friend, Ben. I admire his strength, drive, and passion for the business and our relationship and we are so lucky to be able to pursue our dreams together, work together every day and go home not sick of each other! Well, at least I’m not!

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

Candice: What Disney movie I feel like watching? Ha, kidding [my poor boyfriend right?]. If you asked me this question about a year ago, I would have answered: “What does Candice want?” I have always felt I had to please other people. Until one day it just sort of dawned on me that I’m in full control of my day to day activities, my thoughts, my choices, who I interact with, who I don’t, my next steps [and such]. So I guess If I really wanted someone to ask me a question more often, I would just tell them to.

Elisa, talk to us about Maman. How would you describe the community and what how is the space itself a reflection of who you are?

It’s very funny as when friends and family who know me well come in and see the space for the first time and say, This is so Elisa” Not sure what that means. But I guess I have a pretty distinct identifiable style. My motto in life is to make everything around me beautiful – from my home to my business –  I don’t think there is anything better than living or working in a space that inspires you and your creativity and I am happy and hope to have Maman inspire people in the same way.
Maman is a very personal project and is very close to my heart. Ben, myself, and our family built a lot of it by hand and during the construction phase loved to be hands on painting, sanding – whatever was needed. Many elements of the decor are also personal. The washroom and hall are clad with photos of our friends and family involving food, the lights were hand made from vintage whisks and colanders we found antiquing and all of our flatware is collected from antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, and one set even belonged to Ben’s grandmother. My father was an antique collector and dealer so many of the items were taken from him directly and my childhood home – such as his wooden highchair from when he was a baby, some of the crates and small decor lying around. Calling upon Candice was another way to make the project so personal and include the community as not only is she one of my great friends, she is SO talented – and the world needs to see that. I trusted her entirely and had a vision of what I wanted and she excited 10x better than what I would have imagined! Most importantly the food. We grew up always in the kitchen. My mother and grandmother loved to cook and bake so I got involved at a very young age.
We wanted to call the space ‘Maman’ as we wanted to bring to life our childhood classics and memories and share it with the community. Ultimately the goal was to create a welcoming and beautiful environment, with attention to details in every corner and most importantly good food – what a traditional french twist!
the style line maman

What have you both learned by bringing your individual talents together and how do you think it has affected the Maman community?

Candice: I think the biggest success of Maman [aside from the delicious food] is Elisa’s ability to stay true her authentic self. People can feel that when they walk into the cafe. It’s an extension of all of them actually, Ben, Elisa, and Chief Armand. There’s magic in authenticity. I am a true believer in that.
Elisa: I think the collaboration between Candice and me says a lot about following your own personal passion and dreams. We are two girls from a small suburb town in Canada who had bigger dreams.
So many people we know hate their jobs, the city they are in and have dreams to do SOMETHING but are scared and never pursue it. We both picked up and left everything behind. Lived in different cities, lived out of suitcases, met a lot of amazing people, and met some not so amazing. Made some good decisions and bad, but we took that leap and treat every experience as a stepping stone. We both know where we came from and what’s ahead and have a very distinct end goal in sight – and we are not even half way there, the fun is just beginning! Flowers, soft colors, and ‘pretty things’ has always been my design aesthetic. I was just lucky Maman was there to help complement it. Working so closely with Elisa has taught me how to work properly with clients to give them exactly what they want, yet still, manage to keep my Candice Kaye Design flare. Working with Elisa has also taught me the importance of detail. It’s one thing to design on my computer. It’s another to put these designs into production. Every inch counts.

How has your friendship and this endeavor redefined or re-inspired your definition of discovery?

Candice: You put Elisa and I in a room together and we will leave the conversation two – three hours later with a new idea [that’s probably so insane and out of this world].

That is what it’s all about. Constantly pushing yourself to explore different territories. It’s easy to feel comfortable, but both of us didn’t leave our families in Toronto, Canada to feel comfortable.

Elisa: To me, discovery is to see, to learn and to gain knowledge. Our friendship is unique as we completely feed off of each other’s energy and ideas and lead each other to more discovery, within ourselves and our businesses. Whether it is discussion and trading pins and pretty photos that lead to a great new pattern, or night of wine and chatting that turns into a new marketing idea – Candice inspires me, motivates me and amazes me with her talent. We are on the same road and both enjoying the ride together!

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration, and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

Candice: Oddly enough – the subway. When I’m walking down those dirty steps, wait for the 6 train tired from my day, and then overwhelmed for the work that waits for me when I get home – I overhear something beautiful, like the Jazz at West 4th station, and I’m reminded to work harder, try harder, because everyone in this city is here with me, working, grinding to be the best they can be. One of the many reasons why I love living in New York City.

Elisa: I am inspired by life, and everything around me every day, it is impossible for me to say it is the only open thing. Reading a sign, seeing a beautiful window display, trying a new dish – I think the secret is to be open to finding inspiration in everything and finding beauty in everything – it’s the fuel to your fire!

“To me, discovery is to see, to learn and to gain knowledge. Our friendship is unique as we completely feed off of each other’s energy and ideas…”