I met Jal via Instagram when she reached out to me about my clothing line. She wanted to purchase an item from my website that was no longer in stock so we had to communicate a bit more than I would with a customer who is purchasing straight form my website. I had stock from one of my retail accounts shipped to Jal, so she could try on my jungle fever leggings for size. We kept in touch and when she launched The Benchmark Collection, we even did a pop up shop together! I'm so glad we kept in touch and was honored to work with her on her lifestyle shoot for her new launch! Scroll through to see a few of my favorite shots and learn a bit more about Jal!
AD: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your typical day?
JD: If it's an early workout kind of day, I wake up at 4:45am and schlep to the gym with my husband who coaches early classes. Otherwise I wake up around 7am and make a long list, which usually dictates whether it will be a studio, web, or errands kind of day! I usually stick to one of those categories, fully submerging myself in that kind of work for about 8-10 hours, 6 days a week. I try to at least give myself one day off to rest and stretch and do my laundry :)
AD: Your jewelry collection, The Benchmark Collection, is made for athletes and goal getters, what inspired you to create such a unique line of jewelry? And what keeps you going each day?
JD: Honestly? I wanted a solid gold weight plate for myself, and couldn't find one anywhere. After making the big gold 45lb plate for myself, I realized others might like them too, so I made a bunch of different sizes. What gets me going every day is my genuine LOVE of working with metal! I've always been a maker, and to get to do this as my job feels like an actual dream.
AD: Where is The Benchmark Collection made?
JD: In Bedstuy, Brooklyn! I have a room in our apartment set up with my workbench, tools, and a really cool laser welder that I use primarily for custom engagement work. I hike up to the Diamond District in Manhattan for supplies, then make all the pieces to order at my home studio.
AD: Do you have a favorite piece that you wear everyday?
JD: Yes! I have the Mini Hoops in and I never take them off, as well as a Pavé 5lb Plate that never leaves my neck.
AD: Can we shop in person?
JD: Currently, nope! All of my pieces are made to order, available exclusively via www.thebenchmarkcollection.com
AD: Do you have any tips or tricks for getting through creativity blocks?
JD: Move around, and/or change your environment for a bit! A good sweat (or even some diligent mobility work) helps distract me from constantly thinking about my business, so that I can come back to my workbench with a little more focus! Even going to a different coffee shop to get web work done can help me refocus to problem solve a little more efficiently.
AD: Tell us 3 things about yourself that we wouldn't know by looking at your Insta
JD: Hah, cute question!
- I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but I have no accent because my mom is Palestinian and my father is Indian.
- I didn't really have any interest in working out or lifting weights until a few years ago when I met my husband-- he is a coach/personal trainer and I wanted to keep up :), then fell in love with him And lifting!
- My first apartment in New York was a 10-bedroom "apartment" on Canal street-- I lived under the stairs with no windows. Basically Harry Potter status. We all gotta start somewhere!
AD: Anything else you'd like to share?
JD: The second I started genuinely believing in myself was the second I gained the ability to work through stress. To be frank, life will always throw you curveballs and obstacles, but if you want something enough to put the time and effort into it, it will pay off. I'll sign off with my absolute favorite Rumi quote, "If you get irritated by every rub, how will you ever polish?" xoxo, Jal
*All photos in this feature are taken by me, unless otherwise noted*