Culture Maker: Rae Nicoletti of HOZEN
Meet Rae! She’s a real visionary- creative, passionate- but she gets it done, too. A few years ago, she started HOZEN a line of handbags made entirely from vegan and sustainable materials. She’d gotten into leather work after dabbling in ceramics and weaving. Then, things turned big-league when she trained under a Hermés bag maker, honed in on quality construction and materials, and started making stuff she was proud of. Rae knew she wanted to share her work with the world. As a vegan and animal advocate, she wanted to be sure it reflected her values, so Rae devoted herself to sourcing the best vegan and recycled materials. All that research plus a fresh aesthetic made for a unique product that’s 100% ethical and immeasurably cool.
Here’s Rae on getting started and staying motivated (with a little self-care thrown in too):
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Houston currently with my husband and dog. I do interior decorating on the side. I volunteer five days a week at my local dog shelter.
2. Describe your work.
HOZEN has been a dream in that it's an absolute passion project. Though I've really paired down my wardrobe and tend to wear the same things over and over, I really do love fashion. I don't have a specific style and dress based on my mood, so a variety of options of clothing and accessories is inspiring to me. With HOZEN my intent is to provide an everyday bag that looks good, is great quality, and is an object of pride. Personally if I am not proud to own something I will not wear it. What a waste! The materials and mission of the brand is what sets it apart from the rest.
3. What do you do most days? Do you have a routine?
Wake up, make coffee, sit in the backyard with the dog, pull a tarot card, journal, work for a bit, volunteer. If I'm lucky I'll head to yoga around lunchtime to break up my day. I fast until 2 every afternoon. After lunch it's more work and whatever pops up.
4. Describe something you’ve created that makes you proud.
My backyard bird and critter sanctuary. I've figured out the right seeds and plants to bring all the animals to me. There is nothing more joyous than to watch nature flourish. It's such an inspiration!
5. Who/What is inspiring you these days?
My husband is a total NBA nut. He is from Houston and we have Rockets season tickets. I've never been a major sports fan but watching some of these athletes and following their stats is so impressive. What they do in the game literally seems humanly impossible. To hone in on these personal achievements really makes me want to push myself to be better at what I do.
7. What music are you listening to?
Jazz! All jazz, any jazz. I get very focused when I'm working and lyrics have been really distracting to me lately. Hip hop when I'm off the job.
8. What artists or designers do you like?
I'm super bummed to see Trademark go, but I also love Zoe Lee's shoes, Sara Battaglia's bags. Neither have vegan collections but they make the most beautiful accessories. Now that it's almost spring/summer I'll be living in a Whit wardrobe. Whitney is one of my best friends and has such a great eye for colors and pattern. She collabs with different artists every season to create unique prints and turns them into the most wearable silhouettes - all made in NYC.
9. What clothes are making you feel good?
I'm currently living in my husband's old work shirts, oversized Levi's, and Feivue kung fu sneakers. I've always had trouble pulling together a "cute" winter wardrobe so I pretty much dress like a tomboy. In the summer it's all about the dresses (WHiT and Rachel Antonoff). My friend Rachel Corry based on Portland, Oregon hand-makes sandals. I just put in an order with her and those will be my go-to for the season.
10. How can we support you and your work?
I realize that my collection is small as I'm trying to grow slowly and organically. As with me, people like assortment. I just launched my SS19 collection... support can honestly be as little as spreading the word if you like the product and/or the mission.
I like BOTH!! So here’s the word being spread...
Buy this beautiful stuff!! Tell your friends to buy it! (10% of proceeds go to Mercy for Animals)
Thanks so much for putting lovely, ethical goods out there, Rae!
(All photos included with permission of Rae Nicoletti)