One's an introvert, the other an extrovert. After a serendipitous encounter, these young women developed a business plan for Haus Collective, an art gallery, pop-up shop, and graphic design business at Blue Star Arts Complex.
Lawson Ellzey happened upon San Antonio by chance. She’s a Florida native who came to San Antonio for a visit and ended up putting down roots. Faith Haddad is an Austinite who gravitated toward San Antonio’s culture and authenticity. Before coming to San Antonio, Haddad lived in Berlin for a year, a city that artistically inspired her and spurred the name for the collective space.
The two met at a small art show last October and realized their similar interests. From that day on, they’ve been inseparable friends and business partners, creating a space for people to mix, mingle, and realize each other’s potential.
Ellzey, shy by nature, said it was a big step for her to meet Haddad for coffee after their first encounter.
"I don't meet people often," she said. But Haddad's gentle demeanor and uplifting spirits encouraged Ellzey to leave her home for the afternoon and meet Haddad for a casual cup of coffee that would turn into the meeting where Haus Collective would be born.
"We sat there for four or five hours and came up with a whole business plan for Haus. It was really, really kismet," Ellzey said. "We had the same exact vision for what we wanted this to be. The same aesthetic. The same – I don’t really even know how to put it – the same intention."
Haddad knew of a space for rent at Blue Star, so they jumped at the chance, gutted the small room and created a space for people to connect. It's tucked away inside a little nook in the art studio and commercial business complex at the top of a flight of stairs.
Haus Collective is a series of moving parts, so a single-word definition of Haus Collective is hard to pin down. "To us, in our heads, it makes so much sense," Ellzey said, laughing.
"We are definitely different people," Haddad said. "We have very different skill sets and personalities, but what we recognized was the harmony between both of us translated to our projects as something really cohesive."
Ellzey gravitates more toward the graphic design side of Haus Collective, while Haddad tackles the relationship and curation side of the business, two skill sets that seem to come together seamlessly at the end of each day.
Earlier this month, Ellzey and Haddad hosted a pop-up Japanese dinner, “The Art of Japanese Kaiseki” that featured Starfish sous chef Michael Evan and Bakery Lorraine's Bobby Cabrera. A long, rectangular table in the center of the gallery occupied most of the room’s intimate space. A body of work brought home from Tokyo by local artist Robert Pecina lined the walls of Haus Collective, uniting the theme of the dinner to the art on the walls.
“The Art of Japanese Kaiseki” was Haus’ first "shared table" event. Haddad said the multi-course meals are a way to continue a meaningful conversation between the artist and community, place emerging culture on a platform, and drive traffic to the Blue Star Arts Complex.
Pecina's "How Long, How Far, How Much" is Haus Collective's third exhibition. Its opening exhibition in February featured Anthony Rundblade, a local artist who works in print and sculpture. Haddad and Ellzey collaborate closely with the artists that occupy their gallery and Rundblade proved to be an instrumental connection to other local artists.
"Since we've started we have been very fortunate in the way of connections," Haddad said. "The most encouraging part about being in San Antonio right now is there is still an authentic culture for support."
Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum Executive Director Mary Heathcott, who has been a neighbor and mentor to Haus Collective, discovered Rundblade at Haus' opening exhibition and curated his work for the Blue Star Red Dot fundraiser.
"Really, Haus Collective is a platform," Haddad said, adding that it's a space which holds a larger mission to foster visibility for emerging artists and small businesses through curation or brand identity services.
Haddad and Ellzey took a risk, and are figuring out the business day-by-day. Right now Haus Collective is a fluid graphic design studio and art gallery that is finding its footing, preparing to take flight.
"Faith and I are young and we’ve never owned a business before," Ellzey said. "We don’t really know what we’re doing and I hope that can inspire people, knowing full and well that we are going to make a lot of mistakes."
*Featured/top image: Co-owners Faith Haddad (left) and Lawson Ellzey pose for a photo. Photo by Scott Ball.