What I Wear to Work: Maria Dueñas Jacobs

This editor-turned-entrepreneur stands by heirloom jewelry and cheerful clothing choices.

Marina Duenas Jacobs poses wearing a stack of her favorite rings
(Image credit: Iciar Carrasco)

In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, and CEOs on their "power suit," a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.

As a former accessories director at Elle, Maria Dueñas Jacobs was used to scouring the market for the best accessories in every category. Impressive kid's jewelry, however, had her stumped as she hunted for pieces appropriate for her 5-year-old daughter Luna, who was so enamored by Jacobs' fine jewelry that she'd often fish them out of her mom's jewelry box.

Resourceful by nature, Jacobs took matters into her own hands. "I said, Luna, I will make you these pieces," she laughs. She did just that. After seven months of Googling and gathering advice from network connections, Jacobs had samples, packaging, and a brand name—Super Smalls. Plus, an emphatic seal of approval from Luna and her other two daughters. All three couldn't believe they could touch the jeweled prototypes.

The glitzy collection of kid's accessories, encased in bold yellow packaging—a gender-neutral color that nods to inclusivity—soon caught the eyes of Jacobs' editor and influencer friends, too. Just over two years later, her "small and nimble" side hustle flourished into a full-time career.

With a newly minted office space and an expanding all-women team, we sat down with the fashion vet to chat about her style choices as she grows into a founder role and how she brings her joyful fashion philosophy into the workplace.

Maria Duenas Jacobs at home in New York

(Image credit: Christina Emilie)

On Getting Dressed:

"We're doing investor meetings right now, and I think about first impressions a lot. Whether on Zoom, from the waist up, or in person, I'm like, Who's the person I want them to think I am?

"As I've gotten older, I've honed my style and what clothing I feel good wearing. I have looks cataloged in my head. I know I like a stripe. I know I like denim. I know I like monochrome white looks. I'm always wearing jewelry because that's a big part of my identity.

"I wear fewer heels now than when working as a magazine editor. I'm much more into sneakers. I like to have a reason to get dressed up, but I've always been a casual person. During the workday, I'm about comfort."

Maria Duenas Jacobs with her three girls

(Image credit: Taylor Jewell)

On Joyful Clothing:

"The dress code can be anything in our office—we are a team of six women and dress for each other— it's fun to see what everyone's wearing.

"I'm a believer that fashion has the power to make people happy. It can be mood-altering. I like anything that brings joy and has a sense of humor. That doesn't always translate to fashion, but Miu Miu and Prada do that so well. When I need a boost, I try to put more effort into my look, and it usually works. 

"Of course, I'm also very attached to the color yellow because of Super Smalls. My sister, who works with me, gifted me the most beautiful Loro Piana sweater in our brand yellow. It's so cheerful and makes me very happy. I've always loved the color, but especially now."

Maria Duenas Jacobs at home in New York

(Image credit: Cassie Robinson)

On Jewelry:

"I attach memories to every piece in my jewelry collection. I love heirloom quality and gravitate towards fine jewelry statement pieces. I didn't have that grandmother to pass down jewelry, but I will be that grandmother.

"Accessories are also the easiest way to dress something up. I always have lots of rings on, which feel like my armor, and I'm constantly wearing my $33 Super Smalls necklace. It has a real four-leaf clover inside."

Shop Maria's Favorite Pieces

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.