Hello! I'm Caroline Ventura, a metalsmith and shop owner living in NYC.
The most important thing about balance for me is to know when to take a break. When you work for yourself, it's so easy to answer just one more email once you've ended your day, or look at your inbox really quick on a Sunday afternoon. Giving myself time to rest my brain and eyes from work, even if it's just for short moments throughout the day allows me to reset and truly be better at what I do. I am just a naturally curious person- I love experimenting and trying new stuff. Being in a place like NYC where you have access to so much, can be a little overwhelming but allowing myself to focus on something non-work related for a bit helps keep me going.
Initially, Calliope started as a conversation between my husband and me over five years ago. We wanted to create a space that had good in-person vibes, was super welcoming and not fussy, and didn't take itself too seriously. The idea of a mom and pop brick and mortar store has become lost over the years, and we wanted to bring something to a neighborhood that fosters community and build a place where the people shopping with us can have an actual human experience when they shop, as opposed to being behind a computer screen. The things we sell are mostly made by hand, usually, by the same person that designed it, there's a specialness to the things we stock, and we wanted the store to reflect that. I think people are starting to pay attention to experiences more, and how important it is to have a meaningful connection to something, even if it's fleeting.
On Field Trips
As someone who makes things for a living, I'm always curious about the process of other artists. I'm fortunate to have really talented and creative people around me, and we wanted to offer a way to give yourself (or someone else!) something beyond just a tangible "thing." Things are nice, but sometimes you want something a little beyond that, and we love being able to give our customers a glimpse into the studios and worlds of the people who are making some of the objects we sell. My favorite Field Trip is the Astrology reading with our friend John Sultana. It's a really interesting way to learn a little bit more about yourself, beyond what your therapist can tell you!
Walk This Way
This neighborhood truly is a little village, and I pinch myself every day for being able to live here. The neighborhood really cares about the community, and everyone knows everyone. We're friends with the guys at the wine shop, the butchers down the block, even our dog has his neighborhood buddies. It's a wonderfully supportive neighborhood to be in, especially being a brick and mortar shop that doesn't really offer much online shopping. This part of the city is pretty tight knit, and our store really reflects that- we always invite people just to come in, hang out, read a magazine, and slow down.
I never really thought of myself as a pastel person, but I think I secretly might be. Visually I lean toward things that are soft and gentle, so I think a muted palette reflects that. To me, minimalism speaks to a certain type of quietness, whether it's in your home or the way you dress. It's not about diminishing the quantity of things and chucking out all your shit to live minimally. For me, being minimal is about the loudness (or lack thereof) in something. Soft, quiet details. Style and clothing-wise I actually tend to lean more toward a darker palette, I wear a lot of black and navy. I still keep it minimal always though, I tend to dress in one color, and my uniform is usually a variation on a high waisted pant with a simple button down and a menswear-inspired shoe.
When I started making jewelry, I really started to realize the importance of focusing on things that are made with care and quality. I went through a phase a few years ago where I was trying to find the less expensive version of this particular pair of Celine pants that I was drooling over. I bought stuff from Zara, from H&M, anything that resembled them without paying the price tag. In the end, I realized, "Shit, I've just spent the same amount of money trying to replicate something when I should have just bought the damn thing in the first place." Those pants would have lasted forever, they were timeless, and way better made than the cheaper alternatives that I kept buying. I was nervous to drop that much money at once but ended up spending the same amount, if not more, over a few months on things that I didn't love as much, and just created waste sitting in my closet. Now I try to focus on well made, classic pieces instead of fast fashion. It's also important to me to support the smaller artists who are putting their (sometimes) literal blood, sweat, and tears into something they believe in and love.
I have a few jewelry pieces that are family heirlooms. They're not wildly expensive things, but they all hold a story to them, and I love putting on a bracelet that was my great-grandmother's, or something that belonged to my husband's grandpa, knowing that once upon a time it brought them joy too.
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico