Maya Brenner, an LA-based jewelry artist, is renowned for crafting asymmetrical, delicate modern jewelry designs. She started out as a social worker by day and a jewelry maker by night. It wasn’t too long before she followed her passion and love of jewelry and launched her own successful jewelry business. Now Maya lives in sunny California, where she designs a collection of trendy but totally timeless adornments enjoyed by many women including celebrities. We had the amazing opportunity to sit down with her to learn more about her along with her journey to success.
Melissa: Give us a little background on how you got started?
Maya: I moved to New York to pursue a career in social work and at night I just started making jewelry and by that point it was just beaded jewelry I would make for myself but then people started to stop me on the street asking where I got my jewelry and it would be the simplest things like sea beads with an asymmetrical silver stone on the side. Not long after, a store approached me, and things just really took off from there in a way I didn’t expect. A sales rep found me and then I got into Anthropology in 2000.
Melissa: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges to owning your own business and kind of getting to where you are today? What advice would you give someone who just started out on their own journey?
Maya: I think growing slowly and being ok with that, I think there is such an impatience now to be this overnight sensation that I think it burns bright and burns out quickly. I have been able to grow slowly enough that it’s very organic and it keeps pace with what the customers want and what we are able to produce. For example, we have shut the website down for the past two Christmases in a row because we absolutely cannot keep up with production because of what we do, everything is personalized, and so my goal is this Christmas is to not have to shut down, but I think there is this balance of being able to produce quality and good stuff and also know your limits. If we had kept the website open for longer than that first week, we would have not been able to produce the necklaces in time for Christmas and then you get this backlash because sure you’re open but then, in reality, you have to know enough that you can’t. So, I guess the advice would be to just take it slow and don’t over-promise and just pay attention to the customers.
Melissa: Are you a gold or white gold or silver girl?
Maya: I am yellow gold all the way. I mean, I will throw in some rose gold. It’s funny because obviously when I first started out I was just silver. Everyone just wore silver or chunky silver, but I haven’t worn silver in a really long time. I just love the way yellow gold looks on all skin types.
Melissa: If we were to raid your closet, what accessory would we find the most of? Would it be shoes, handbags, hats?
Maya: Obviously, I have a lot of jewelry, but besides that, I have a lot of shoes. I just buy what I like, and it doesn’t really matter if it is a designer or not. I tend to not get rid of them like I do other things. Even like these high heel black booties that I would never wear on a day to day basis.
Melissa: What is in your handbag that you can never leave the house without?
Maya: Candy. Surprise, surprise I love candy. The kids love it.
Surprise, surprise I love candy. The kids love it.
Melissa: Is there anything you do to take care of yourself, your own well-being?
Maya: I like to get my eyebrows done and I love going to the Korean spa with my girlfriends. I could go there for 3 hours and feel like I have been away for the whole weekend that is how relaxed I feel. I have been known to sneak off to go see a movie by myself in the middle of the day if I can just to get a little time to myself. I definitely make sure that every day I have a little time to myself.
Melissa: How do you balance being a mom and having a business?
Maya: The balance is real. I know I can’t do it all, and sometimes I don’t go to everything. I don’t apologize to my kids for working. I know a lot of moms might feel guilty, but I don’t because this is what provides them the life that they have. I just always let them know that I love them, but I am working mom and that is just the way it is.
Melissa: Is there any piece in the collection that is your fav?
Maya: The letter necklaces are the most popular and the most important to people. We just have to remember that these people are wearing their love and lives around their necks and so we just have to be considerate of that.