Sisterfriend Jewelry Co-Founders on Being the “Owners of Cute”
Lisa Maita and Kelli Mercado create fine jewelry with a sense of humor.
What we make
Maita: “Kawaii jewelry made of a precious metal like gold or silver. ‘Kawaii’ means ‘cute’ in Japanese. We’re the owners of cute.”
How we met
Mercado: “Mutual friends. I moved here from Hawaii in 2010, and Lisa’s lived here all her life, and we, like many Filipinos, just clock that we’re Filipino and bonded over that.”
Maita: “I’ve been working in the jewelry business since ’05 and climbed the ladder to the point I’m at now. I learned everything on Jewelers’ Row.”
How we got started
Mercado: “I had asked Lisa to design a cute alien ring. Lisa had other ideas, and we created a line out of them. We started selling exclusively online and sent Filipino influencer Bretman Rock a gift that he shouted out on his Instagram stories. That gave us a large bump in followers, and it snowballed from there.”
Maita: “We launched in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit. It felt crazy starting a business, especially when gold was at an all-time high and the world was at such an uncertain place. But we stayed the course.”
Mercado: “The rice paddle charm, for sure. After the alien ring, Lisa was like, ‘We’ve got to make a rice paddle.’ It’s such an iconic shape and in so many Asian kitchens — like, you grew up with a plastic rice paddle in your drawer.”
About the name
Maita: “It’s loving your friends like family. We even have a broken heart pendant you can get for you and your sisterfriends, connecting the pieces when you’re together.”
Published as “Gold Standard” in the November 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.