Maya has always had a passion for jewelry design. Raised in the 70’s in Berkley, California, Maya recounts digging through her mother’s jewelry box as a little girl and re-working the hippie turquoise pieces she found. Maya’s mother confirms that there were many “improvements” made over the years. In 1998, while working as a social worker in NYC, Maya began making jewelry on the side after teaching herself how to wire wrap from a book she bought at a local bead store.
As she searched through catalogs for a very special gift for her mother’s birthday that she could afford on a social worker’s salary-she decided to create a one of a kind necklace for her. It was a huge success which lead her to make many more pieces.
These necklaces quickly became highly requested gifts among her family and friends. When people started stopping her on the street to inquire where to buy them, Maya Brenner Designs was officially born. She sold her first beaded necklace to a store for $15 a piece.
It was only after moving to California in 2001 that Maya’s signature jewelry style of injecting a sense of fun and whimsy into timeless, classic pieces emerged. Starting with one of her most iconic collections, the state necklaces. This new line was quickly picked up by notable retailers such as Fred Segal, Anthropologie and Neiman Marcus.
Maya’s relatable story and elevated designs soon got the attention of a small start-up company named Luxe Jewels. She was offered the position of head designer and that company is known today as Stella & Dot. Maya’s hits included the Seven Seas Necklace, The Day to Night Necklace and the still popular On the Mark necklace.
Maya’s designs also caught the eye of DK publishing who asked her to author the book “Beaded Jewelry: Create Your Own Style”. This easy to follow and beautifully photographed book can still be purchased on Amazon almost 20 years later.
In 2007 Maya created her most popular and sought after style to date - The Original Asymmetrical Letter Necklace. Designed to be the perfect baby name necklace, she wanted something fun but that would never go out of style. So she took a gold letter and soldered it onto a dainty cable chain but added a whimsical twist by placing it on the side of the neck. Not only did she like the look of it, she knew that with kids around, a necklace never hangs perfectly centered anyways.
While Maya’s line has been a long time favorite of US customers, it became world famous when Meghan Markle was spotted wearing an “M H” necklace, revealing for the first time her fairytale relationship with Prince Harry. The necklace became so popular in Europe that she launched a London based office, MBUK.
In her 20+ years of running and operating her company, Maya is proud of her long standing retail partnerships with boutiques across the country as well as online at BaubleBar, Mark & Graham, Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie. She also loves working with other female founders and entrepreneurs. She is a member of Hey Mama, Alliance of Moms and Female Founder Collective.
While Maya’s designs have been worn by everyone from celebrities to royalty, if you ask her what her greatest achievement has been she’ll always say her children. Jack, Sadie and Otis are the true gems of her life.