A few weeks back you might remember that we hosted an event with Local Creative called “Be A Boss”. The idea behind the event was to celebrate Boss Babes everywhere, and to do this we pulled together a group of 6 of the fiercest females we could find, put them on a stage, gave them microphones, and asked them every question we could think of about what it takes to be a Boss Babe. We thought it completely unfair that only the hundred or so guests who attended the event would get to meet our incredible Boss Babes, so that’s why for this week’s Boss Babe we’re introducing you of one of our “Be A Boss” panelists, Caroline Ventura.
You might know her as the owner of Calliope, a store in the West Village selling one of a kind gems from all over the world, but after chatting with this lovely lady we realized that’s just the start. She’s a jewelry designer and maker for her personal line BRVTVS (pronounced like Brutus), mama to the incredibly handsome dog named Darryl, wife and business partner to her husband Michael (who is also the founder of agency Sub Rosa), and all around lover of anything beautiful and handmade. She has impeccable taste and an eye for detail, so it’s no surprise that Calliope feels like a little slice of heaven in NYC.
We stopped in to the store last week to escape the summer heat and to hang out with Caroline and Darryl, and here’s what went down:
Los Angeles, CA.
Weekday breakfast routine:
I always take Darryl for a walk in the morning before heading into the studio or the shop. I grab a cup of coffee and just let myself wake up before I head into whatever I have to do that day.
Ice cream flavor of choice:
Three beauty items you never leave the house without:
Some type of hand lotion or salve, my hands gets really dry because I wash them often, especially if I’m working on jewelry that day. Also an essential oil mix that my friend Lynne made me, and RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Food you can never resist:
Potato chips, especially the salt and vinegar flavor
What would I find on the Caroline Ventura Mixtape?
The Clash, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Band, Buzzcocks, The Specials, and a little bit of Motown
What does Saturday night with the Ventura’s look like?
We tend to be low key on Saturdays. Usually we have dinner at home, right now since the weather is so nice we’re bbq’ing a lot and trying to be outside as much as possible.
Tell us about Calliope. Where did the idea come from?
Michael and I never set out to specifically create what Calliope ended up being, but we had been talking about working on something together for quite a while. Eventually, opening a shop felt like the next progression in our story and it made sense to do something that involved our work as well as our home.
How would you describe the style of the items in Calliope? Does that reflect your personal style at all?
Calliope is very much a reflection of ourselves and our personal aesthetic. It’s become an extension of our life together, since we live right above the store, and it was important for us to have a nice flow between home and work. All of the pieces we carry are things we love and possibly own ourselves.
What are a few of your favorite items that have come through Calliope?
We have a porcelain piece from Mike Perry called “No Room for Flowers” that is one of my favorite pieces in the store. Traditionally he is an artist, so having something from him in a different format is awesome. It makes me smile every time I see it. We also have some pieces from Small Spells that I really love. Rachel’s work is so beautifully made, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously and I love that she adds in elements of her other interests in life, like astrology and old school tattoo imagery.
Where in the world would you most want to go to find items for the store?
Michael and I took a trip to Morocco a few years ago that forever changed my life. We brought back a few bags and have them in the shop for sale. Those were the first pieces we bought for Calliope. We’re planning a possible trip to Japan or India – we love to travel and see the world from a different perspective and love meeting people who are creating beautiful art and design around the world.
Any current fashion trends you can’t stand?
Dressing for others before dressing for yourself. That never looks good on anyone.
You guys host events and workshops in your space as well. What are the events like? And was that always part of your vision with Calliope?
We wanted to have something available for people to buy that wasn’t a material object, but more of an experience. NYC is such a great city and full of so many talented people doing awesome things and we wanted to be an outlet for others to experience that. We offer field trips that aren’t like traditional classes- they’re more intimate and one on one with people who are really good at what they do. A few of the trips you can book include floral arranging, where you get to go to the flower district and shop and then learn the basics of creating an arrangement, record shopping and mixing with a friend who’s a dj and knows the secret record shops to find weird shit, a lesson in herbal remedies, indigo dying, and a few others.
What’s it like working with your husband? What are each of your strengths in the business?
Michael and I have always worked in creative fields so it felt like a no brainer to do something together. It’s wonderful to have a partner who can share the highs and lows with you. We balance each other out pretty well, too. Michael is much more business minded than I am, and working as a metalsmith and jeweler has allowed me to gain an inside perspective on owning your own small business which helps when working with the brands we carry.
What’s been the most difficult part about opening your own store? And what’s given you the courage to keep going?
Gauging what our customer is interested in and what they want to get out of the store was the trickiest part. Neither of us come from a retail background, but we both wanted to make a space that felt warm and inviting and a place where people can just come and hang out. Some people want to just come and sit on the couch and chill, others want to do a quick shopping experience and know exactly what they are coming in for, and others just spend time wandering around the store looking at everything, so it was a challenge to make sure we had something for everyone to enjoy. It’s tough to have something that takes a little while to get off the ground. We’re on a side street in the West Village that most people don’t happen upon while they’re out walking around. Knowing that we have a solid vision for the future of Calliope and that it’s more than just a retail shop is something that we continually remind ourselves and it keeps us focused on the long term plans for her.
Tell us what’s coming up!? For you and for Calliope?
I’m going to start getting back into making jewelry again. I haven’t put out any new pieces for BRVTVS in a while, so I’m slowly beginning to add one of a kind and exclusive pieces at Calliope. We’re working on a few ideas for Calliope branded things as well.
What inspires you on a day to day basis?
Meeting the people who come into Calliope and the customers I have interacted with through BRVTVS is really so wonderful. I love interacting with people and getting to know them a little bit – it’s why I do what I do.
If you could dine with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go?
I’d love to have a beer with Joe Strummer. I don’t care where we are, I just wanna hang out with him and shoot the shit and hear his stories.
Any final words of advice for aspiring boss babes?
Do what feels right for you. People will naturally gravitate to you if you’re doing what you love and are passionate about it. Plus, it never feels like “work” if it’s something you truly love doing. And take naps. I love naps.