Maya Brenner

Jewelry DesignerSilverlake, CAPhotos & Story by Lauri Levenfeld

Meeting Maya Brenner for the first time;  her zen-like ways, whimsical manner, and beautiful smile are all instantly inviting. It is easy to see why Brenner’s jewels and home accessories have become sought after by every cool California girl and beyond. It is her innate sparkle that Brenner showcases through her work that makes everyone ultimately want to accent themselves (and their homes) in her charming baubles and adornments.

Maya talks about designing for herself and how her mom has nicknamed her the “reluctant entrepreneur” (okay she doesn’t like the accounting, deadlines and such – who does?). All that being said, every joy and challenge in creating this global business has been part of her process and it is exactly where she wants to be.

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1.Who are you and what were you like as a child?

I’m a mom to Jack (age 12) and Sadie (age 8), a girlfriend to the love of my life, a daughter raised by a single mom, an entrepreneur in business for 17 years (and still passionate about it), a fair boss and a friend to two besties I’ve had for over 30 years.

As a child I was a good student, often times stubborn and very outgoing. I loved jewelry and other sparkly things even though I was raised in Berkeley by my hippie mother and didn’t have access to anything “fancy.” When I was 11, I went to visit my grandmother in Manhattan where she took me to Bloomingdale’s. Needless to say, I was hooked.


2.Where did your passion for design come from?

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so if I wanted sparkly baubles I had to make them myself. At a very young age I taught myself how to make beaded jewelry and even reworked many of my grandmother’s pieces, reinventing them as my own.

3.What are your biggest influences/ inspirations?

I design for myself: What I would want to wear or what I’d always wished was in my jewelry wardrobe. I like pieces that are versatile and pretty with a whimsical touch. I love walking the floor at Barneys New York—the store carries some of the best jewelry designers out there. I particularly love Monique Péan: Her eponymous line is so unique and differs greatly from my own designs.


4.How has your design translated to your home?

My home, which I recently bought with my boyfriend, is a true reflection of our life together. It’s versatile and pretty with a hint of whimsy—just like my jewelry. Our crazy work schedules, the meals, the kids, the dog and play time all need to coexist under one roof—so my space needs to feel very eclectic and comfortable.

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5.When was your A-HA moment?

I agreed to do a 24-hour sale with the TODAY show in 2010 and marked my State pendants 80% off for one day only. We thought we would sell 5,000 necklaces and to our surprise, sold 25,000! It was 3 weeks before Christmas and my company literally imploded. I had to triple the size of my office and hire more workers to handle the customer service nightmare we had on our hands, since there was no way we could make and ship all those necklaces in time. It took us 4 months to make the extra 20,000 necklaces and we shipped every last order. I realized that if you’re going to go out on a national stage like that, you better be ready and always be aware of how your company is being presented.

6. What is it about you that makes you a success?

I’m tenacious, a quick decision maker and I know what I want. I’ve never had a business partner or investors because I’m very independent and therefore prefer to run my business that way.


7. What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?

Sometimes, the daily minutia of running a business drags me down. My mother calls me a “reluctant entrepreneur” and she’s right. I started my business because I loved jewelry and never actually planned on being an owner of a company. The accounting, schedules, deadlines and other office issues are things I’d rather avoid altogether.

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8. What are your must-haves for holiday?

All of my most recent purchases have been for our new house. So I’m finally ready to focus on the sparkle that I’ve always been drawn to. I just bought a simple black, glitter Ganni dress at a cute store in Chicago called P45. It will definitely be my go-to for holiday parties. As for my next purchase this season: A gorgeous, long-flowing Maison Scotch dress I’ve been dreaming about.

9. And what do your 40’s mean to you?

Confidence, contentment, communication, happiness, and being wise(r).

For more fun & fashion on Maya, check out Joliegazette.

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