Montgomery County Leadership: Elyse Lupin, President and Founder, Elysium Marketing Group

By
Philadelphia Digital Marketing Agency
Elysium Marketing Group Logo

Elyse Lupin, President and Founder of Elysium Marketing Group, spoke with MONTCO Today about growing up in Lansdale, her close relationship with her older brother, her high school tennis court success, and her love of classic rock. 

Lupin also described how, after attending Penn State, she earned a spot in NBC’s highly competitive Page Program, which opened doors to a Publicity Assistant job at a record label. After gaining experience in several different areas of marketing, she opened her own company, which provides marketing strategy and design services for food and franchise companies, many of which have plans to expand in the new year.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born and grew up in Lansdale, in Montgomery County. I haven’t moved very far. I studied abroad in France and lived in New York and Boston, but I came back to my roots.

What did your parents do?

My dad’s an attorney. He’s had his law firm, Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell and Lupin, for over 50 years. 

My mom was a teacher until she had my brother, and then she owned a store selling gift baskets and invitations. She still does wedding invitations and Bar and Bat mitzvah invitations today.

One-year-old Elyse with big-brother Ben.

Where were you in the pecking order? Were you the oldest?

I’m the baby! I have an older brother who is three years older, who I was really close with growing up. We didn’t have any first cousins, so the two of us were with our families a lot, and we were the only kids, so we would make up games to entertain ourselves.

What memories have stayed with you from growing up in Lansdale?

There was a carefreeness to my childhood, which is not how it is for kids today. My brother and I would play with all the kids in our neighborhood. We played street hockey on roller skates and rode our bikes everywhere. I remember the carefreeness and happiness of playing outside together.

Were you a tomboy? Were you playing sports with your brother?

It’s funny — I was the only girl in the neighborhood. I don’t know that the boys really wanted me to play, but they needed more people. When we played football, I’d run the ball, and they’d two-hand touch me instead of tackling me. When we played hockey on roller skates, we all roller skated well and could play pretty tough.

It sounds like you held your own in that group.

I did. It was helpful that I had an older brother because I was trying to keep up. Truthfully, I wanted to be my older brother when I was little. 

Did you play any sports in high school?

Elyse Lupin playing Tennis for North Penn High School.
Elyse playing tennis for North Penn High School.

I played tennis competitively. I was number one in singles at North Penn High School during my junior and senior years. 

Did you continue into college?

I played intramural at Penn State. My sorority sister and I came in second in the doubles tournament. 

My whole family are tennis players. My dad and I would play against my brother and my mom. That was what we did growing up.

After I had children, I stopped for a while, but I found my way back to it, and now I play at least once or twice a week. 

Do you remember a favorite match or a favorite moment from high school?

You know what’s bad? The ones I remember most are the ones I lost because I didn’t lose all that often, so I have vivid memories of those. I could tell you the names of two people who crushed me. I remember not liking the feel of it and wondering what could I have done differently?

What kind of music were you listening to growing up?

I’m a huge music person. I grew up listening to classic rock because my parents did, and that’s still my favorite genre. Fleetwood Mac is one of my all-time favorite bands — I’ve seen them in concert two or three times. 

I was obsessed with the Beatles in high school.

I used to call the radio station 102.9 in high school and ask them to play Beatles songs, and then I would record them on tape. I still go through Beatles phases in my life. I was fascinated by how they worked together and how they made this amazing music.

And, not to get all marketing on you, but from a branding perspective, they had different eras of what they looked like and how they sounded. I never tire of them, and somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s out of style. “Imagine” is my all-time favorite song. 

What kind of music do you listen to now?

I still listen to a lot of classic rock. I’m also obsessed with the singer P!nk. She has two children, she’s a working mom, and her music’s phenomenal, plus she’s from the Philly area. Her shows — I’ve been to two P!nk concerts — they are experiences. My team makes fun of me a little about how much I like P!nk.

What about jobs growing up? What kind of jobs did you have?

In high school, it was a lot of babysitting and summertime as a camp counselor, which is where I became friends with my husband. My first job out of college was as an NBC page in New York.

Thinking back to those early jobs, what lessons did you take from those jobs that still influence how you approach life and work?

Well, one thing is that I chose something that, at that time, I really enjoyed. I enjoyed babysitting different families. I enjoyed helping children in different ways. That’s something that’s stayed with me because I’ve been lucky in my career that I’ve been able to, for the most part, really enjoy the work I’ve been doing. 

Where did you decide to go to college?

I’m from one of those crazy Penn State families. My parents met there, and they still go to every football game. So I didn’t look at any other schools — I applied only to Penn State. I’d been going to games there my entire life, so it was the epitome of college. I couldn’t imagine any other route. And the final thing was that my older brother went there. I visited him in high school, so I was already comfortable with the campus and culture. 

Was Penn State a good choice for you, looking back?

It was definitely a good choice. I was happy there for undergrad. For grad school, I picked a city because, as much as Penn State’s a great school, I needed a bit more out of the location. 

I studied abroad in Lyon, France, while at Penn State, which fueled my love of traveling. 

What does traveling do for you?

Everything! I think it’s important to experience other cultures — what other people eat and how they live. And for me, there’s nothing that compares to European architecture. When I studied in France, I was lucky enough to have a Eurorail pass, so I went to almost all the different countries. It was a phenomenal experience. 

What’s the best place you’ve been? What’s your favorite place to go?

County-wise, either France or Italy, because there’s no better food anywhere, and they have so many awesome cities. I also went to Lisbon for the first time this summer with my husband, and I felt like I was 21 again — just throwing myself into the food, the shopping, and the beauty.

Looking back over your career, who were the people who saw promise in you? 

I’m super thankful for a lot of people in my career. I interned, after my junior year, for VH1. That goes back to my love for music – all I wanted to do was work in music. I had that internship on my résumé, so I applied to be an NBC page. It’s a very rigorous process, but I think it helped my case that I had already had a little experience at a television station in New York.

What do you think NBC saw in you? 

Elyse with her parents at NBC
Elyse with her parents Linda and Steve Lupin at NBC.

You can tell I’m not faking something when I’m passionate about it. It’s authentic passion and excitement. I was so excited to be sitting there, and the thought of working for them, and they saw that. 

The page program is a year-long program, so you only stay for a year, and then you’re out. I wanted to work at a record label, so I went to Matt Lauer, who was beyond nice to me. He called a publicist at Columbia Records for me, and that was my second job, working in PR for Columbia.

Who else saw promise in you and opened up doors for you?

Well, from the job as an NBC page, I still keep in touch with two people who were on the interview panel. Ryan Noggle and Mary Gallagher; one’s a comedy writer in LA now, and the other is an executive at NBC.

So, what led you to start Elysium?

Intentionally or unintentionally, my career allowed me to gain marketing experience in lots of different areas.

During my internship in business school, I worked at New Balance Athletic Shoe doing market research. At Comcast, I was doing direct marketing. When I worked at Philly Magazine and had my son, I hit a point where I wasn’t having fun anymore. I know that’s a luxury, but I was trying to capture the love of working. 

I met with Marcia O’Conner — she’s someone I definitely have to thank. She has a company that does recruiting and HR consulting. She discussed a couple of job opportunities, and I don’t know what came over me, but I told her, “I don’t want to do that. I want to start my own business.” She was like, “Okay, do it.” Once I decided I was going to do it, she said, “I’ll be your first client.”

I left Philly Mag having just her and another client. I owe a lot to her because she believed in me and said, as a woman business owner, “I think you can do it.” I don’t think I could have done it without her affirming that it’s something I could do and should do. 

Have you always wanted to have a business, or did that thought just come out of the blue?

I always had a vision of me in an office that I was running, but I wonder if that’s just because my dad did that. My dad’s a workaholic, and I have some of his traits in me. 

Give me Elysium Marketing’s elevator pitch. What are you known for?

We’re a full-service marketing agency. I’ve worked very hard to bring in subject matter experts on both sides of our business. There’s the design side — we do branding, logos, websites, packaging — anything you can create. Our designers are phenomenal. I think they’re the best in the industry.

The other side of our business is the strategy side. That’s digital marketing, lead generation, SEO, PPC, and social media ads. Our team is strategic and nimble, with how quickly everything evolves in digital marketing.

One of the things I pride myself on is that Elysium isn’t really me, even though I started it. It’s about bringing in the best team members possible. It’s a collective effort. I’m thrilled with where our team is right now because the right people are in the right seats.

Looking into 2023, what initiatives and projects are you excited about?

As I mentioned, we have two sides of the business — strategy and design. We do predominantly food and franchise, so we have a ton of restaurant and food clients. In the new year, a lot of them are expanding, which is exciting. 

And then we’re growing our franchise business. We’re doing a lot more work with franchisors and franchisees, which is a lot of fun but also challenging. Franchisee marketing is similar to other marketing we do, but franchisor marketing is a whole different beast because it’s a very considered purchase. There’s a lot of competition — what franchise are you going to buy? So we’re figuring out the pieces of the puzzle — how will we get people to buy this franchise over another franchise? There are a lot of nuances.

Another exciting thing in the new year is that we’re moving. Our office is in Ambler, and we’re moving within our building to an office that’s three times the size. I’ll be in an office, and Alexis and Lexie, the heads of design and strategy, will have offices, and we’ll still have an open space. A lot of companies are downsizing their offices right now. Still, because we’re a marketing agency, it’s helpful for all of us to be together to collaborate.

So, what do you do with all that free time you have?

Elyse at the shore with her husband and two children.
Elyse at the shore with her husband Phil Chang and her two children, Gavin and Sydney.

I still play tennis a lot — about twice a week now. It makes me feel like me. I can’t have my phone on me, so it helps me unplug from work and being a mom.

And then I spend a lot of time with my children and husband. My son’s eight and my daughter’s five, and they’re such fun ages. They’re like little people, they get it, but they still want to hang out with me. 

Do you read much?

I do! I just started Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. It’s by the people who run EOS, the Entrepreneur Operating System. I just finished Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David, which I really liked. A client referred it to me. 

It’s a crazy and chaotic world out there. What keeps you hopeful and optimistic?

The people I surround myself with! My children definitely keep me hopeful for the future. They’re such good kids, and while they’re growing up in a scarier, not as carefree way, they’re also growing up in a more inclusive way. My kids are bi-racial and interfaith. I hate to say, “They don’t see color,” because they do, but they don’t realize — yet — that they’re super different by being that. So that gives me hope that society can swing back to everyone being nice to each other again.

On the business side, what keeps me hopeful is my team. They’re smart, good at what they do, and nice people. That keeps me hopeful that we’ll keep charging forward and bringing on more clients and team members.

Finally, Elyse, what’s the best advice you ever received?

From the time I was little, my dad used to say, “Once a job is first begun, do it right or not at all.” He taught me early on to give my all in everything I do. 

Whether playing in a tennis match, starting my business, or working for my clients, I will do whatever it takes. And my team is like that too, which is why I love them. My husband also grew up like that, so we’re trying to instill it in our children — everything you do, give it your all.

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