How 27-Year-Old Maya Portorreal Went From Making $45K A Year To About $20K Per Month
Photo Credit: CNBC

How 27-Year-Old Maya Portorreal Went From Making $45K A Year To About $20K Per Month

One sensitive skin issue just led to the ultimate come-up for this entrepreneur!

According to CNBC Make It, Maya Portorreal went from working in retail, averaging $45,000 per year, to raking in more than $350,000 for her jewelry line that was launched as a side hustle back in 2019.

As someone who has always loved the way jewelry enhances an outfit or her overall appearance, Portorreal was saddened after realizing that certain things broke out her sensitive skin during her days as a retail assistant at Pierre Hardy, a luxury apparel brand in New York.  

“I have very sensitive skin,” she shared with CNBC Make It. “I can’t wear brass… I can’t really wear too much copper.” 

Fortunately (and unfortunately), her skin’s reaction to certain products led her to create Kitten Co. Jewelry.

From Frustration to Fruition

According to the outlet, the 27-year-old launched Kitten Co. Jewelry with around $2,000 that she had in savings. 

With a “get it out of the mud” mentality, Portorreal was able to leverage contacts with various suppliers and manufacturers to help bring her vision to life. From there, she leaned onto social media heavily to promote and bring visibility to her brand. 

She even notes how her fellow co-workers at Pierre Hardy may have thought her idea was crazy given that she began floating it around just two months after starting at the company.

“They probably thought I was insane,” she recalled. “They probably still think I’m insane because I pulled it off. I just wanted to prove that I could do it.”

The Solution

Initially, Portorreal kicked off her business through the private label route, in which she paid jewelry manufacturers to place Kitten Co. Jewelry on designs that had already been created. Today, the entrepreneur uses computer-aided design programs to create her own pieces which include over 150 jewelry designs with a few private label items sprinkled in the mix.

To prevent her skin from negatively reacting, the creative uses 925 sterling silver, which according to the outlet, means “at least 92.5% pure silver – plated with rhodium, a hypoallergenic metal that coats the silver for ‘extra protection and shine.'”

The "Big" Moment

All it takes is that one viral moment to set a small brand up for success. In the case of Kitten Co. Jewelry, when the brand’s MAIKO BUTTERFLY NECKLACE was sported by rapper Saweetie during the “Best Friend” video, it took the brand to levels that she never imagined.

“I never [predicted] making as much as I do now,” said the entrepreneur to CNBC Make It. “I never thought it would happen this quickly.”

Portorreal now brings in between $15,000 and $20,000 a month thanks to the line that was created from her skin irritation to jewelry (talk about the ultimate come up).