Q+A with Mama Bijoux! | Costa Mesa, CA

We admire how this 3rd generation jeweler, Kathryn Miller of Mama Bijoux, brings beauty, energy and meaning to art of adornment. It’s the best feeling to walk into her gorgeous atelier, peruse the dainty heirloom offerings and become inspired.  We invite you to our communal table, where you can get to know her more, with these fun dinner party questions:

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Los Angeles, specifically the West Side. 

As a 3rd generation jeweler are there any early day stories you can share–with the grandparents? 

My mom took me everywhere growing up as she was building her business – downtown Los Angeles where she manufactured, jewelry trade shows, and diamond dealers’ offices. I remember when she first started. She opened a small jewelry case in a clothing store in Pacific Palisades. At first it was just a fun hobby and passion. From there, she grew to owning and operating 4 jewelry store locations on the west side of Los Angeles. Her desk drawer in our home office was filled with jewelry molds and waxes and I remember being fascinated by the process of making jewelry. Every step takes a skilled artisan. I was so proud when she came to speak to my 5th grade class about how one single piece of jewelry is made and how many steps it takes from design concept, to wax molds, casting, setting, and polishing. While there have been technological advances in the industry since, so many of the original techniques are still required to make a piece of jewelry today. 

How do your childhood memories around the jewelry business tie into your grown-up life? 

I can admit now that there are so many ways. My mother always took time in the morning to get ready for her day to go into the stores and be the face of her brand. I watched her put on her makeup, spray her perfume, dye her eyebrows and do her hair. Her outfits were classy and elegant and embodied the look of a jewelry designer. I think about those moments when I get dressed for the day to walk into my atelier. She was very meticulous about how her jewelry was displayed in her cases. If an employee put all of the jewelry out that morning, she would take an hour to rearrange it. Even the smell of windex takes me back to being a little girl watching my parents clean their store cases. It’s wild!

How did the name Mama Bijoux come about? 

Mama and Bijoux (Bijoux, meaning jewelry in French) are two worlds that tell my store. My most important job is being a mother to three little children (Ella (6), Charlotte (4), Noah (2)). 

I wanted to incorporate a french word into my brand name because I grew up going to a French school in Los Angeles – Le Lycee Francais. I lived in Paris for over a year in college. I’m a Francophile through and through and the name just felt right, and felt like me. 

Is there anything you hope your children to appreciate about this family tradition? 

I hope my girls know they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. When I first started Mama Bijoux, I had just lost my brother a year prior (4 days after my 2nd daughter was born). It was the hardest year of my life. I was home at that time with 2 little girls under the age of two. I realized that I needed something for myself and a purpose outside of the home. My passion saved me in a way. I love every second of being creative and I love that my girls get to witness that passion. I love that they know and can see exactly what mommy does. When we drive along 17th street they yell out the window “That’s mommy’s atelier”! Making them proud let’s me know I am doing something right. 

What is your most memorable jewelry market experience? 

I was 12 years old when my parents brought me along to Las Vegas for the largest jewelry trade show in the world. The rules state that no child under 16 is allowed to enter. My parents made me a business card and dressed me in something “mature”. We got to the registration desk, they took one look at me and said “She’s not old enough to attend”. I was crushed. I had to wait it out with my grandmother in the hotel room. I couldn’t wait for my parents to return to show me all the treasures they sourced!

Do you have any sage advice when it comes to wearing jewelry? 

Jewelry should tell your story. My most precious pieces were those I made or were gifted to me to mark a special occasion. For example, my Toi et Moi (You and Me) ring (a pear and heart diamond set side by side) was given to me by my husband following the birth of my son, my last baby. The pear diamond was passed down from my grandmother, and the heart diamond represents my baby, my heart. My Mama Bijoux signature birthstone bracelet represents each person in my family – Diamond for my daughter born in April, Blue Topaz for my 2nd daughter born in December, and Emerald for my son and husband who both have May birthdays. Most pieces are very sentimental and meaningful and will be passed down to my girls and son when it’s time. 

We love that you incorporate fashion into your brand, any favorites to share? 

For me jewelry and fashion go hand in hand. There is a difference between wearing your clothes and styling your clothes. Jewelry allows me to style my looks. No outfit is complete without the right accessories. I really love to mix high and low end lines. A Zara skirt with Prada shoes and all gold and diamonds. Can’t go wrong! 

Are you the chef in the family? 

My husband and I both love to cook. Tim, my husband, has a few signature dishes – he makes the most amazing steak, better than a restaurant and a few pasta dishes that are out of this world. He’s a rule follower in the kitchen and loves to follow a recipe. I’m more of an intuition and experimentation cook.

What is your most memorable meal (one you made or one you’ve had)? 

Spaghetti alla Nerano from Da Vincenzo in Positano

Are you always up for a dinner party? 

ALWAYS. I love hosting and I love sharing a meal with people I love. I’ve found the best conversations happen after a nice meal and a full glass of wine. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Being on a boat in the middle of the mediterranean and jumping off into the sea. Followed by a nice cold spritz! 

What do you find yourself saying when people ask what it’s like to have your own business? 

It’s the best decision I’ve ever made but also filled with challenges. It’s never as easy as it looks and when it’s really hard, I remind myself I’m on the right track. Nothing amazing has ever been easy. 

Where do you find inspiration outside of the jewelry business? 

Travel is by far when I am most myself and most inspired. I love that all of my senses are engaged when I travel. There is more of an opportunity to be in the present rather than thinking about the past or future. 

If you could change one thing about how people think about jewelry, what would it be? 

Education! There is such a HUGE difference between Fine jewelry and Fashion jewelry. Some consumers aren’t aware of why/how price differences are so wide. 

What is your current state of mind? 

I’m feeling excited about all the things to come as we near the end of the year!

What words or phrases to you overuse? 

Yadda yadda yadda, like, so…blah blah blah.

What makes you feel the most alive? 

Living my passion and living in the moment when I can mentally get there!

What is your motto? 

Always step outside your comfort zone! It’s where the real growth happens. 


Although our 10/3/23 lark with Mama Bijoux + Chef Taylor Elam is Sold Out, we are thrilled to invite you along through our images and stories!

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!