Kids costume jewelry line Super Smalls launched at the end of 2019 and to date has featured 32 products, from jewelry sets to hair accessories and stickers.
New York—With a background in both fashion editorial—most recently as accessories director at Elle magazine—and tech startups—a stint as director of brand development at Stitch Fix—Maria Dueñas Jacobs had a wealth of insight when it came time to launch her own brand.
Her biggest inspiration, however, came from home. She’s the mother to three mini-me daughters (including a set of twins) who gravitated toward her jewelry box of fine jewelry treasures.
“As you can imagine, that can get problematic,” Jacobs said.
So she launched Super Smalls, a kid-appropriate, dress-up box alternative to the real stuff, in late 2019.
The whimsical costume jewelry is inspired by classic gemstone designs, and is meant to be piled on, layered, and mixed-and-matched.
Most importantly, it’s meant to spark play and creativity.
“I love art and high jewelry, but I also love crayons and glue!” Jacobs said. “Our whole family loves crafts and storytelling so I’ve stayed very close to my inner child.”
Since its debut, Super Smalls’ brand of magic and play has proved so popular that Anthropologie recently took notice, stocking a “Mommy and Me” collection with coordinating and matching styles for children and adults.
Accessories for kids is where Jacobs’ passion really lies, however, even though Jacobs’ designs resonate with plenty of grown-ups who nab the colorful pieces for themselves.
National Jeweler chatted with the designer and entrepreneur about finding her own accessory niche and what’s next for Super Smalls.
National Jeweler: What kind of lack did you see in the market when it came to children’s accessories?
Maria Dueñas Jacobs: My kids love make-believe and dress-up. Whether we buy something or make it ourselves, they love to go the extra mile with decoration. As we searched online for items that looked like mine, I realized the experience and the product were lackluster.
For the kids play jewelry especially, there wasn’t anything thoughtful packaging-wise, or design-wise—it was all clutter. As I started to make pieces for my kids, I kept this standard in mind: Would I wear it or want it myself? It really helped shape the design process and ultimately even yielded things I am now wearing!
NJ: How important is your under $50 price point?
MDJ: It’s a foundational element of [our brand]. Kids should not feel precious about their Super Smalls, they should feel celebrated and liberated, and the products unleash fun and creativity. To do this, we often package our items in groups, like a necklace, earrings, and rings, so you get tons of value and tons of style in one box.
Part of our value proposition from the start has been giving kids that Tiffany and Cartier unboxing experience, but made for them! All of our packaging and design details are deliberate, and the price point is an important basis to help steer the offer. We want to wow both customers—the adult buying the gift and the child receiving it.
NJ: How often do you introduce new collections?
MDJ: We have bi-monthly drops at the moment. We are growing very quickly and we are flush with ideas.
NJ: Super Smalls has expanded past jewelry to other accessories, like hair clips, gloves, mask chains and now DIY beading kits. What’s next?
MDJ: Ah! Exactly, crafts! We are making DIY kits and bead kits to start but we love crafts so there is much in the works! Magic is one of our north stars, we base a lot of the product development around the magic factor, so you will see items like a four leaf clover pressed within a pendant and a potion bottle necklace that come with a booklet on how to mix your own ‘kindness potion’ and ‘courage potion.’
NJ: Tell me about the Anthropologie collection. Will there be more jewelry for grown-ups in the future?
MDJ: It was a really fun exercise to design and think of mom (me!) and how I could wear Super Smalls in a complimentary way with my girls.
As an adult, a jewelry lover and collector, I love attaching a sentiment, memory or particular meaning to all the pieces I buy. That was the approach I took when thinking of this collection.
My favorite set in the collaboration is called ‘Lock and Key.’ It is a set of two pendants, a heart lock engraved with ‘my whole heart’ and a complimenting gold key for the child to wear that ‘holds the key to mom’s heart.’
Although this was a very fun and well-received collaboration, we really love focusing on our favorite kind of humans—kids!
NJ: Your branding shows a diverse array of kids and moms. How important is that to your brand ethos?
MDJ: We like to say that Super Smalls is for the super side of every kid and “kids at heart.”
We believe magic is for everyone and imagination is for everyone—that’s how we want people to feel when they see and experience Super Smalls. We’re a sparkly, fun, slightly wacky club and everyone is invited!