At FabKids, we’re all about beautifully made, perfectly personal, and surprisingly well-priced style. Like many parents, Maya Brenner prefers a balanced approach to her work and life, and it’s helped her build her jewelry brand into a household (and newsworthy) name! Maya got together with the FabKids team and gave us an inside look at how she does it all–and looks so cool doing it!
How did you know that the jewelry business was for you?
It took longer than you might expect. I would call myself a creative more than a businesswoman. I was a full-time social worker when I started the jewelry business on the side, and it’s grown from there. I looked at jewelry as more of a hobby. If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past sixteen years, it’s that trusting your gut pays off.
What were some obstacles when you launched?
When I started Maya Brenner Designs, I was working full-time in New York as a social worker. I was determined to continue with social work, having gone all the way through graduate school to do it professionally. In those days, I ran the jewelry business at night, after I got home from my day job. Finally, it got to the point where I had too many orders to do both. But even then, I didn’t quit social work–I just went to part-time. Finally, I borrowed $3,000 from my grandmother to launch Maya Brenner Designs out of my apartment. Having begun without any formal training, I taught myself the basics, like how to string and wire wrap.
Then I got a 300-piece order from Anthropologie. I was making every piece myself, and by the end I had a herniated a disc in my neck. After that, I had to change my business model very quickly, hire help, and treat my jewelry like a real business.
How did you get the idea to start Maya Brenner Designs?
I spent a lot of money ordering a necklace out of a catalog for my mom’s 50th birthday gift. When it came in the mail, I thought, I could make that! I returned it and went to work making a new one for my mom. When she (and everyone else) loved it, I started making more pieces and wearing them around New York. One of my necklaces got the attention of a shop owner, and the rest is herstory.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I usually don’t pay too much attention to trends. I like to focus on what I want to wear or what’s missing in my jewelry wardrobe. For example, I wanted some pull through earrings, so I designed some.
As a mother, what were you most nervous about starting your new business?
I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to keep it running and be a good mom. Running the business out my house, I had babies, nannies, UPS, stylists and all kinds of employees traipsing through the house on a daily basis. For a long time, the work/home lines were quite blurry. It was quite chaotic, but it helped me stay involved in both until the kids were old enough to move our lives and my offices to downtown Los Angeles.
What does your son and daughter think about your work?
They pay attention! Sometimes they give me feedback about some aspects of the designs. They definitely get excited when someone they know wears my jewelry. Kiki Palmer and Zendaya have both worn it, and in my kid’s eyes that makes me cool… But for the most part, they’re more focused on themselves! Ha.
What does work/life balance mean to you?
One of the benefits of running my own business is not being tied down to a set schedule. I can go to the office in the morning and be home early enough to be there for my kids after school. They know that I might need to jump on a call or answer emails—the juggle is constant and never easy. To make it work, I have great household help, an amazing boyfriend, and a mom who will always fly in if needed. I love the expression, “it takes a village” because it’s so true.
In what ways have your children picked up on your entrepreneurship? What are you hoping they’ll pick up on from your example?
My daughter, Sadie loves to sew and sing and is very into DIY. She makes a lot of slime. Who knew; you can make it at home with household items! My son, Jack is a little older. He loves basketball, and is very into fashion and music. Lately, he’s been into re-selling his clothes to make extra money.
I hope they keep chasing the things they’re passionate about, now and later into their careers. I’m still so excited about what I do, and in 2017 I’ll have been at it for 20 years!
How do you describe your personal style?
Feminine Bohemian with an edge.
We love your kids’ style. Did you have anything to do with that?
I’ve always been into fashion, so I’m sure they’ve picked up the magazines around the house since they were very small. As toddlers, I would dress them in whatever I wanted, but that quickly changed as they got older. Both Jack and Sadie have gone through many style phases. Now, I generally let them wear what they want … but I will make small adjustments when allowed!
Great news, FabMoms! FabKids and Maya Brenner Designs have partnered for a giveaway. Head over to FabKids or Maya’s Instagram for the chance to win a custom letter necklace and two FabKids outfits! For Terms & Conditions, click here!