JL by Jack and Lola Is Your New Fetish

JL by Jack and Lola Is Your New Fetish

Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Jack Juliar / Styling by Lola Eliason

Queer photographer Jack Juliar and art historian Lola Eliason have joined forces to create JL, a small collective that sells handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry.

The two friends are from Minneapolis, Minnesota — though Juliar currently lives in Los Angeles — and work together to source antique pieces given new life through reimagined necklaces and bracelets.

"There are so many beautiful things that already exist," Juliar tells PAPER, highlighting everything from vintage '70s beads to real seashells and religious medallions that decorate JL jewelry.

Alongside an exclusive shoot, which JL has titled "Fetish," both Juliar and Eliason bring us inside their collaborative project, below.

How did you two connect and decide to launch this brand?

Jack Juliar: We connected after I graduated college. We decided to launch this brand after Lola had given me a really beautiful necklace that combined all of our favorite things: Vintage, sustainability, art history, fashion and being totally scrappy.

Lola Eliason: I think our alter egos combine really well to nourish our identity of creating an arts-based collaborative. My alter ego is a man who is very good looking, sexually ambiguous and lives in Paris.

In what ways do you two see similarly, and what do you separately bring to JL?

Jack: We see most similarly when it comes to our ethos and art. We both really care about the sentiment behind things and how they extend to the outside world. Unfortunately, I bring a lot of rage and fire to our process, but paired with Lola’s wisdom and alter ego we somehow manage to create art in different forms that we are able to connect with.

Lola: We’re really different in how we execute ideas. We are both organized and chaotic in different ways. We’re also very connected — as we talk almost daily — so any idea we have is usually the result of a continuous stream of processing. A lot of people are physically bowled over by our combined energy. It’s a lot to deal with.

What’s the process for sourcing materials and finalizing them to be ready for purchase?

Jack: Outside of the hours of phone therapy, brainstorming and general complaining, we always manage to be on similar wavelengths in terms of what we think is "cool" or things we see trending and then talk about how we would bring something like that to life in our way. Lola spends a lot of time wading through online sellers, antique and vintage markets to find the right materials just to make one thing.

Lola: Jack is really good at articulating his design concepts on paper. Usually he sketches out a concept and then I’ll tweak them according to components I find.

What’s your relationship to Minnesota and how does that impact the direction of this brand?

Jack: Watching and hearing about how Minnesotans do, well literally anything in -10 degree weather while maintaining a level of wholesomeness makes me feel connected to the place I grew up. It also allows for my and Lola’s friendship to emulate that feeling through art we produce.

What attracts you most to one-of-a-kind pieces? Why is that model important to you?

Jack: I say it a lot but, there are so many beautiful things that already exist. I think taking the time to realize that nothing ever truly “goes away” and being able to recontextualize pieces created or sourced is so special and can add so much meaning to everyday life.

Lola: I think there are a lot of things that attract me to one-of-a-kind or limited edition pieces. For the both of us, the sustainability factor is huge. Working with pre-owned materials can be challenging, but knowing that we are creating something unique and precious is really fun. We also love that our customers appreciate our creative spirit behind the pieces and wear them proudly.

How do you think your brand has evolved since the beginning? What have you learned along the way?

Jack: It feels like it’s evolved through celebrating people who embrace what we do. Whether we are making jewelry or art, we’re keeping it small, intimate and sustainable. JL has always felt really fluid and I’m excited to see what we do with it.

There is a charitable component to your sales. Talk about that and how you decide where to donate a percentage of profits.

Lola: We’re both very experience-driven and that guides us on how we focus our energy. Our first donation was to the ACLUMN in support of BLM. Our most recent donation was to CaringKind, a non-profit for caretakers of individuals who suffer from dementia. While these organizations have little to do with each other, they’ve impacted us in one way or another. It feels good to fuel a good fire in different sectors of our society.

Jack, you’re a photographer. What has that journey been like for you and how does it impact JL?

Jack: It’s honestly really allowed me to question what I like and embracing or not feeling ashamed for those things. Growing being the “gay” kid, I repressed a lot of what I’ve come to find is a huge part of my identity and art making. It has really guided a lot of the direction I take now that I'm able to tap and explore those parts of myself.

This photo series, “Fetish,” features JL jewelry. How do you see imagery like this as an extension of the brand?

Jack: I see this as an extension because it is a bit odd, like me and Lola, we’re very strange, fun to look at and, like the model, are very open. To me the wig was commentary on trends (fashion mullet) and we wanted it to look a little odd. I think we take social media and ourselves too seriously sometimes. I’m always wanting to be “in-on-the-joke,” while still participating, which I think these photos do.

Lola: It’s totally an extension of our brand in the way that Jack and I both appreciate how human form translates to something that is a focal point for a mix of emotions — whether it be desire or emulation. We’re always thinking about how our jewelry pieces enhance or enable that fetishization.

What’re your fetishes?

Jack: Personally, I'm really into uniforms. Maybe that's a kink though? Feet are also kinda fun. I don't actually know that I have many, but I do know I like to talk about them.

Lola: For me, I’m gonna go with a really nice, high-quality boot. One can’t have too many pairs of boots. Or at least that’s what I tell myself whenever I buy a new pair.

Photography: Jack Juliar
Styling: Lola Eliason

Jewelry: JL