Whether it’s tipping you off to the hottest new artists in town or introducing you to the coolest local eats, behind the scenes of our social lives, Osiris Navarro is busy perfecting every last detail. The founder of BadWill Market, sales director at Madre’s Kitchen, and event producer for hot spots like Rhino Room and Ciudad, Navarro’s schedule is stacked so high you’d wonder if she sleeps.
She managed to squeeze us into a Saturday morning to chat about what’s now, what’s about to be new, and how she balances all our social lives with her own.
As we sit down to coffee, Navarro rattles off, “I had a busy week last week. We had FEEST one day, and then the next day, for hip hop history month, there was a gala at Washington Hall that I helped coordinate, and we did the food for. There are some weeks where it's just back to back.”
Born in the Philippines, and raised in the Seattle area, Navarro studied visual communications but nitty gritty details stole her heart. “I’ve always done events, even in high school,” she says, “as part of the student body.”
That get-up-and-go work ethic led her to create BadWill Market, though it started as an outlet to sell her own wares. An avid collector of vintage finds, “I was selling junk,” she says, “and I thought it’d be fun to invite other people.” After an early permit citation from the city, she started taking her events more seriously. “It’s not like you can just do whatever you want,” she explains, “there are rules in producing things.”
Despite that bump, it turns out her hunch for what the city wanted was right on. As she grew BadWill, friends around Capitol Hill started taking part. “It was a lot of people who sold vintage, or friends who were shop owners but wanted to get their names out there,” she says.
Now housed at Rhino Room - where Navarro books and produces other events as well - the monthly pop-up market features unique local artists, independent designers, music, edible treats, and more. An alternative to larger national craft shows, Navarro carefully curates the makers she invites to BadWill. Many apply, “but I can only have 20 vendors each market,” she says. “For many it’s their first market. I like to find those types of vendors instead of really established ones.”
The event is very much a pursuit of passion that finds Navarro taking care of all the details. “All the emails, setting up the place if the janitor doesn’t come on time, I do it,” she says. “It has potential to get bigger, but I kind of like how small it is. I like of it being like a little village. If a vendor makes money, they'll go spend it at the other vendor's booth. I know a lot of my vendors have become really good friends because they met there.”
Creating for and serving the community is a constant for Navarro, whose day job involves selling catering services to huge corporate clients, but favorite pursuit comes in volunteering her skills for local causes. “I recently helped with this nonprofit,” she says, explaining FEEST, a social justice program that aims to engage local youth in issues of food security, systemic change, and community development. “We did a fresh flavor cocktail party, and I secured all the food sponsorship for that, and just did the event logistics.”
While Navarro is actively making a difference, it is often with her husband, Michal Gola, by her side. “He’s a really talented cook,” she gushes, “so I pretty much sell him to people.” As Gola’s Kitchen, the couple focuses on consultation, catering, and event planning. It’s a curated effort that has them doing popup dinners and special events. “I'll kind of incorporate all my different things,” she says, “and sometimes we will donate dinners where we'll raise money.”
Giving back is something she advises to anyone interested in the event industry. “Starting to volunteer first would be good, with a few non-profits on the event planning side. Get your name out there.” Whether it’s freelance event planning for weddings or day-of coordination for corporate clients, Navarro finds a balance between paying the bills, pursuing her personal passions, and giving back.
Spending all that time coordinating social events means that, for Navarro, recharging comes in the form of alone time. “I’m always at home,” she explains. “I think because my work is so social.” But she’s trying to find new ways to spend time with friends. “I want to start doing brunches where I get a group of people together and talk about plans and dreams.”
“I love food and eating and camping. Me and my husband will just cook at home, and we'll do cooking videos. I narrate the recipes.” Her Instagram stories are flooded with these foodie tidbits and more. The couple also retreats to their favorite camping areas to cook outside. Says Navarro, “We do that a lot. Just cooking over the fire, foraging for mushrooms.”
When she’s not drowning in details, the couple are in the process of really putting a face on Gola’s Kitchen, but Navarro has also taken on event sales at Georgetown’s Ciudad. Each month, you can find her producing a popup called “Dinner and a DJ.”
“We pair a chef with a DJ. It could be either cultural, their background, or just an inspiration that they have,” she details. “We’ve done Filipino street food, we’ve done Eastern European food, and then we did an elevated 1950s take on diner food. And you get a lot of food!”
It’s in Ciudad’s outdoor courtyard, complete with bistro lights, that Navarro imagines implementing a summer program, “possibly with outdoor movies, a little market,” she says. “I’m gonna try to do BadWill there next summer.” Given that long list of passionate pursuits, it’s likely you’ll find Navarro behind plenty of hot ticket events coming your way soon.