Inspiring Mom: Maya Brenner
Morning mamas! You’re in for a treat today because not only have we got a QA with Maya of Maya Brenner Designs for the latest in our Inspiring Mom series, but lots of photos by Nicki Sebastian of both her gorgeous DTLA studio space and her home tour too. M started her jewelry business in 1999 out of her Manhattan studio apartment while working full-time as a social worker (so impressive!) so we’re extra excited to get a bit of perspective from a mom who has raised her two kiddos while establishing a brand over the long haul. Here’s what we learned…
Maya has this studio in LA’s jewelry district…
But she splits her time between it + her home office (which you’ll see after a few more studio shots!).
What was the inspiration or impetus to start your business?
I was looking for a 50th birthday present for my mom and spent a lot of money on a necklace I found in a catalog. When it arrived in the mail, I thought, “I could make that!” so I returned it and made my own design. My mom (and everyone else) loved it so I started making necklaces at night when I would get home from work. I wore them around New York and a store owner took notice… and the rest is “herstory”.
How does your business inspire your family, or your family inspire your business?
My kids see me working every day at a company that I built. I want them to see that hard work and passion about things in life can pay off. My daughter wears my jewelry now and my son likes to see celebrities and people he and his friends think are cool wearing my designs. Recently Keke Palmer was wearing my K necklace and both my kids thought that was very awesome.
Such a beautiful, chic space. Her Silverlake home has a bit more of a relaxed California vibe:
How has the business changed or evolved as your children have grown?
When they were smaller, my work was just something that took me away from them. I traveled more because I was focused on building the wholesale side of my business. After my second child was born I changed the model of my business to focus more on my own e-commerce site so that I could stay home more. I thought my business would suffer but interestingly after I stopped focusing on wholesale, we got contacted from Steven Alan, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and Mark & Graham—which are now our biggest wholesale accounts.
Do you find it challenging or refreshing to work for yourself? Are there particular places or people that you rely on for support as a creative business owner and a mom?
I love working for myself. It gives me so much flexibility and let’s face it—who doesn’t want to be a girl boss? But there are lots of different pressures when you own a business and the responsibilities of keeping it up and running for almost 20 years are endless. And there is no such thing as a true vacation or real maternity leave since there are always problems that need to be handled.
I rely heavily on the people who work for me. I have some amazing women who make sure that all the jewelry gets made and delivered each and every day, they have been incredibly supportive over the past year since my boyfriend and I are undergoing fertility treatments to have another baby. Anyone who has gone through that knows that it’s a full-time job in and of itself! But the fact that I can choose to be there when my kids get home from school and attend all their games and performances and provide for my family at the same time makes me feel very fulfilled.
How do you balance time with your children and time to work?
I don’t know how moms get everything done each day without a lot of help from others. I always say that it takes a village and that my nanny is “another me”. Running a household with a dog, chickens, and two children with lots of activities makes my head spin most days.
I take the kids to school everyday but I usually have my nanny pick them up since it buys me a little more time to get things done before they get home. She helps with homework, dinner and will stay late if I have a dinner or an event. I also rely heavily on my boyfriend—he owns his own business as well, so we’re both very understanding of what it takes and supportive of each other, while finding the work/life blend that works for everyone. At the end of the day I try to not be too hard on myself and I know that it’s not a perfect balance but I’m just doing the best I can…
Love this lounge!
Big thanks to Maya of Maya Brenner Designs for this peek into her life as biz owner + mama!
Photography: Nicki Sebastian