Arts + Entertainment

Emily Isenberg Is the Life of the Party

The marketing whiz on throwing pop-ups for Kanye and Edelman and why the future of Boston retail is a lot like online dating.


Photo by Pat Piasecki / Hair and Makeup by J Silva/Ennis

I’m from San Diego, but Jamaica Plain is home. Both of my grandmothers were in the same class at Brookline High School. At first, they didn’t like each other.

In Jamaica Plain I love the green space, carved out by activists who fought a highway and won; the café con leche at El Oriental de Cuba. It’s like Sesame Street, where everyone looks out for one another.

I got the idea for my company, Isenberg Projects, because I wanted to build positive experiences around places. We work with local artists to build tailored engagement opportunities for clients like Harvard and Jamestown properties. And in the past two years, I’m proud to say we’ve pushed more than $1 million right back into Boston’s creative community.

Isenberg at a Glance

Has called Jamaica Plain home for:Two decades.
Built an office in:A converted gas station.
Dreamt of becoming: A comedian.
Spent days off: Roller-skating at Chez-Vous

We are at a pivotal time for the retail scene in Boston. I think the successful brands are call ing the shots with the landlord. Experiences matter—something happens when you put a designer in a space with their product and introduce them to their customer. It’s like why online dating can only go so far without connecting in person.

We’ve done more than 100 retail pop-ups in the past seven years, and each one, from Kanye West to Julian Edelman, it’s wildly different and we always get stretched in new, creative ways.

The nice people at City Hall have the most influence in this city. They’re always listening and steering more of Boston’s growth than we give them credit for.

I used to host a karaoke night at the Milky Way in Jackson Square. It was a good gig: I got paid to test out my terrible attempts at comedy.