Tuesday December 1, 2020

By: Naiia Lajoie


It goes without saying that society could use some rose-tinted glasses looking back on the past year. While hindsight is 2020, for k mae Jewelry founder Klarissa Castro, all that glitters is rose gold after having switched careers and launched her website just as the pandemic was ramping up.

Klarissa grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago. In 2008 she moved to Los Angeles in order to pursue her graduate studies. After having received a Masters and Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, she joined a group psychotherapy practice with offices in the downtown Los Angeles area as well as Beverly Hills. As a professional working with individuals experiencing major life transitions, relationship difficulties, trauma, navigating through identity issues, and first generation matters, Klarissa took pride in her work – but was neglecting her own happiness. While still working as a psychotherapist, Klarissa found out she was pregnant with her first child. Ever ready to face a challenge head on, this was when she sought out to start her own jewelry business. At first she was designing jewelry and working with manufactures while still simultaneously working as a psychotherapist. Upon realizing her job was no longer fulfilling her, she elected to leave the practice. This was a difficult decision, as the therapy field she had worked so hard to pursue – earning her Dr. title – was the only thing she had ever known.

As she states on k mae Jewelry’s website, “As a positive psychotherapist, [I have] always been passionate about helping women discover their true potential, feel empowered, and believe they belong”. Klarissa’s source of empowerment was her creativity, fostered while still holding her previous job position. She would find herself doing creative side projects; anything from mixing facial oils to making indigo-dyed onesies for her daughter. “I really loved the creative process and wanted more of it” she muses. Having a natural entrepreneurial spirit provided her with the confidence to ultimately leave the psychotherapy field, knowing she would have her own business eventually. Admittedly however, timing has not always been on her side, yet she remains positive amidst the setbacks:

“I started to design jewelry and worked with manufacturers in Istanbul, Hong Kong and Los Angeles for the past year and a half. I launched my website right when the COVID lockdown hit. Not an ideal time! Since I am still starting out I am still learning the business and definitely learning to be resourceful in different ways. I started to make my own jewelry too as I didn’t want to be dependent on manufactures, but I also love working with my hands. I don’t think the jewelry will be the end all be all and I am excited to see what more it can manifest into.”

What makes k mae Jewelry so unique is that it is exclusively rose gold. A bold decision, but Klarissa’s own personal tastes lie with the material as she exclusively wears rose gold. Motivated by the difficulty of finding rose gold jewelry, given most stores sell silver and yellow gold, she sought to make the line very personal. In her Luxe Collection for example, each piece is named after someone she has either known and has inspired her, believed in her, or has supported her on this journey. Her other line, the Goddess Collection, is inspired by goddesses throughout history – both ancient mythological deities as well as historical female figures from around the world. “Each ring, bracelet, and necklace serves as a reminder of the amazing women who came before us, the cherished female relationships we have, and our breathtaking potential” she enlightens.

Drawing from her many years of psychology schooling and practice, Klarissa marries the symbolism of the jewelry with its significance on the human psyche. “k mae Jewelry is meant to [help] find your ‘signature piece’ of jewelry. It represents who you are. Since it’s a journey of personal growth [and] knowing who you are, you might need to go through a few jewelry pieces to see which fits you. [In doing so], each piece becomes a reminder or a totem of who you are, and [you] owning that”. Referring to rose gold as “the unapologetic gold”, it is no wonder that her products are often showcased by those who are looking for something gorgeous and timeless while still identifying as passionate, ferocious, and unafraid.

Aside from inspiring female empowerment, Klarissa also gives back to the community. She is a member of Entrepinayship; a group of Filipino female entrepreneurs who get together and support each other’s businesses. Using her psychotherapy background, Klarissa has hosted group sessions in order to discuss mental health when it comes to how their Filipino heritage and past are being affected by their businesses now. During the time of COVID and civil unrest wherein unity is essential, they call one another or connect online.

The dichotomy of being risk-taking while still remaining fun-loving is something that translates into her k mae Jewelry line; it perfectly represents her and the type of person that would rock her wares. Someone who is intrinsically “chill” while still pushing the boundaries. Klarissa ultimately seeks to grow the brand and take on a team of people. Thankful for what and appreciative of who she has in her life, she values having a community, her group of girlfriends, and her family above all else. “Listen to your gut and take [in] the courage to do what you want, even if it seems ridiculous” is one piece of professional advice she leaves with anyone seeking to follow a similar path.

Just as Klarissa rose (gold) to the occasion, if you are someone who wants to be seen, heard, and celebrated with the following delicate declaration, “This is who I am. I deserve happiness. I’m connected to something great. And my potential is limitless”, then you may want to check out k mae Jewelry at and give them a follow on either Facebook or Instagram at @kmaejewelry. Not only that, Klarissa has a holiday exclusive for our readers – enter the code MANILAUP10 at checkout for 10% off of your entire order!

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