Hausos: Rachael Pawlowski Creates With Her Hands
Interview by Sharon Salt.
Rachael and I reschedule our meeting to sidestep the massive heat wave that’s plowing, slow as molasses, through Buenos Aires. But even as the following week approaches, it’s as hot as ever, and I have to resign myself to the fact that it is determined to be an inferno. I am sweating balls before I even get on the bus.
When she answers the door, she’s sweating too. “Sorry I don’t have A/C,” she says, but her apartment almost makes up for it, both in cool factor and cold concrete. We walk down a narrow entryway covered in ivy to an old planta baja, which she shares with two Argentines, Tata and Pope. Inside, there is an antique card catalog for keys and knick knacks, patterned chairs – some of which were recently reupholstered by Rachael herself – and a big, big window that opens up to a courtyard filled with plants and bikes. Two cats nap in chairs.
By day, Rachael is a PR maven – by night, a jeweler. “Other people unwind with a book or at the bar,” she explains, “but I make things.”
Rachael first got the idea for Hausos when a coworker took her to Once: Land of Buying in Bulk, where she was overwhelmed and delighted by the selection of beads. She is forever itching to give her hands something to do – and though most arts and crafts are not practical for a nomad, jewelry seemed like a good fit. So Rachael started Hausos.
She didn’t have much experience – just helping friends fix things at her “jewelry hospital” and copying a piece every once in a while from Free People or some Etsy store, thinking only “I can do that too” – but she took to it quickly.
“My philosophy has always been, if you can’t afford it, just do it yourself. When you buy jewelry from [chain] stores, there are five million others and it will probably break. You’re going to have to buy a new piece anyway,” she reasons.
So she began splurging on high-end hand-made goods, and then found herself wanting to create them, too.
At first, her jewelry was mainly assemblage, pairing beads and findables and knitting them together with other metal and a good pair of pliers. But after launching an Etsy store and selling out at the BA Underground Market, Rachael realized Hausos could be even more.
“It can be hard to find things in Buenos Aires,” Rachael explains. “All of the sudden, the store will stop carrying the beads you were using. Or if you need to buy some metal, you have to know how to ask, and sometimes you have to have connections. They don’t always care whether you find it.” She thought, why depend on the market? Why not eliminate the middleman?
For a line inspired by strong and free spirited women, it only makes sense that the creator would be a one-woman powerhouse. Now, Rachael is learning all she can about metal working so she can further personalize Hausos by making everything from scratch. She has a crème brûlée torch in one hand and her soldering material in the other, all chipped nails and determination.
Moving forward, she wants to focus on exposure through Pinterest and Facebook. She also wants to release a campaign of twelve one-of-a-kind pieces sold alongside her basics, something she will call her “treasure trove.” It will be seasonal, and on- trend. The trends of Hausos tend to follow the trends of her life, she explains, which at the moment happens to be this “South American summer dream,” full of plants and images from the beach.
She’s also started sketching another campaign with draping inspired by Thelma and Louise. “I have so many ideas,” she gushes, “but I will never stop supplying my basics, my made-to-order pieces.”
This surge of creativity is thanks in part to her roommates Tata and Pope. Moving in with them has changed Rachael for the better, she says, because there are so many ideas and such good energy, as both girls are working on their own projects and even have a workshop space upstairs. And all of this carries over into the day-to-day, as well.
“I’ve been particularly inspired by Tata, trying to create and understand the power of ‘situations,'” Rachael says as she places a tray down on the table. It has little mismatched crystal glasses, a reused Jägermeister bottle full of cold water, and a selection of salted pretzel sticks. “Like this, this is a ‘situation.'”
The water is welcome. We finish our glasses and she asks, “Want to know a secret?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you,” she jokes, “but I guess it shouldn’t be a big deal. I might go back to the States in a few months.”
Rachael first came to Buenos Aires because she felt stuck in her life and in her relationship. She wanted, and needed, a change. When she left for Buenos Aires, she hadn’t officially broken up with her boyfriend, but in her heart of hearts she knew that it was over. She needed to get some things out.
When she first arrived, she was “scared and weird,” subsisting on food from her neighborhood chino and turning away to cry softly whenever anyone tried to speak to her in Spanish. She was simply overwhelmed.
“I was a little lamb. I didn’t know what to do,” she says, “I only knew not to tell my mom, because when you tell your mom your fears, she tells you to come home.“
But Rachael found her way. And, she adds, “I don’t know if there would be jewelry [for me] if I hadn’t come here.”
But she’s 27 and is feeling maybe it’s time to go back and build a nest, go back and pay her taxes. Either way, though, she never wants Hausos to lose its South American vibe. “Everyone can use a little more color, that vibrancy. I don’t ever want that to go away.” In her jewelry or in her, I think.
After I take some photos, I make to leave, and I ask Rachael what she’ll be doing that night. “Probably stay up and make some jewelry,” she says. Lately, she admits, she’s been drinking cold white wine to shake off the heat. “It’s nice, because I drink the white wine to cool down and then I sweat it all out, all day, and then I take a cold shower and make jewelry or pass out. It feels good, I feel refreshed.“
In this hot and sticky city of no A/C and power outages and heat waves and humidity, I know the feeling.
Whether or not it’s time for Rachael to leave is for her to know. But either way, coming to this city has been like a hot summer wine sweat for her, a time for her to sit and get unstuck, then take a cold shower and get back to what she wants.
For some, Buenos Aires is precisely that – a city for sweating things out in. And for Rachael, it has brought her a new passion, a new life, a new outlook.