Originally from Glyfada, young entrepreneur Marios Karkalis now lives in Los Angeles where he bases his company, MAC&LOU. The name “Karkalis” may sound familiar if you purchase fine jewelry in Greece; his father is a well-known wholesaler whose brand continues on through the family-run business.
With a solid background in jewelry, Marios designs and sells his own line targeted towards a “funkier” generation. We had the opportunity to chat with the Greek designer and businessman about MAC&LOU, and his determination to find success outside of his father’s legacy.
What is your experience when it comes to jewelry?
My father was one of the pioneer jewelry wholesalers in Greece starting in 1952. He migrated to Germany and when he came back, [he] started selling silver and gold chains door to door. Later, bringing multiple investors in to the company, they were able to buy bulk, making them very competitive on pricing. My name is still one of the biggest associated names with high-end jewelry in Greece, as part of my family continues my father’s legacy.
How did you come up with the name for your company, MAC&LOU?
I liked the symbol ‘’&’’ in between words. I was trying to find a catchy short name like ‘’something&something.’’ I believe MAC&LOU is a name people will remember. It registers even though it came from nowhere.
Why didn’t you use your own name as most designers usually do?
My name, “Karkalis,” is already associated with luxurious jewelry in Greece. It brings to mind diamonds and gold; very expensive products for older people. MAC&LOU goes for more funky, loose, “I don’t give a f***” style.
Why did you decide not to stay with the family business?
Big, sad story. Let’s leave it at that.
For years now, I’ve felt the burden of creation. I’ve been living off my father’s money, both before and after his death. I believe a man should have something more to say to his children other than, “I lived a very good life spending all of your grandpa’s money, and now there is nothing for you.” I’ve thought of all kinds of things as far as different businesses. I was young and most of them remained as thoughts. By the time I turned 25, I said it’s time for action. Let’s see.
Do you design the jewelry yourself?
I design and make everything myself. I buy the gemstones from all over the world and I cast my own metal designs. For example, the spikes on the “Abatu” and on “Genesis,” I made the prototypes by hand and then I casted multiple pieces to ensure the uniqueness of the products. There are a lot of people that are interested, but being a total new brand, it is difficult for them to trust spending $300-500 on a single piece.
Why is the cost of your jewelry higher than most others, even though pieces may not be made of silver or gold?
As I said, everything is made by myself and people here in LA. I have my own casting factory with 3 huge ovens burning 24/7. It requires a lot of money to maintain a place like this – [to] design in metal and then cast thousands of pieces, in addition to assembling the order to get the final products. The packaging gives a 60’s era feel; more than 20 minutes of work for each packet. Competitors sell similar products, charging 2-3 times higher and ship in boxes made in China. I LOVE jewelry accessories, and I bought from many brands. Nobody takes care of the quality and the presentation like MAC&LOU does.
How did you decide on the individual names for each jewelry piece?
I see most companies refer to their products with a code. Not me, those are my babies. Could you name your baby AW0023?
I see your point. Do you plan on branching out from necklaces and bracelets?
Yes. I have many products in mind that I am anxious to create. I believe people will love MAC&LOU in the years to come, but I just started. One step at a time.
Is the jewelry only available online?
No, it is also in one of my favorite stores [in] downtown [LA]; they are the designers of the brand Sandast. You walk in and you see art and quality in every single corner. Along with their brand, they carry several other top and hard to find fashions. I am going to be looking for more places like this. You won’t be able to carry MAC&LOU unless you can support a certain taste. They are perfectly made items and I want them in a perfectly made environment.