Welcome to Calliope
Caroline and Michael Ventura
If you find yourself wandering the West Village on a beautiful day this summer (heck even on a rainy day) make sure to take cozy little Greenwich Street over to West 12th Street. There you will find Caroline and Michael Ventura, the lovely husband and wife duo behind Calliope, a retail experience that goes beyond consuming. If you are lucky the couple’s adorable pup Daryl will be the door happy to greet you into their storefront home.
Contemporary and mid-century home goods and accessories line the shelves of the store. Everything in the space is available for purchase including the incredible bookcase and shelving unit by (insert designer) to the luxe vintage inspired leather sofas by their friend Michael Felix. Rugs sourced from around the globe line the floors but if you are looking for a quick gift for a friends birthday they have that too. Prices range from accessible to adding to your home wishlist but still within sight.
Caroline and Michael work directly with makers to furnish their store. Inventory is on a rotating basis as pieces become available. We love that each piece has a story and can become unique to your home. Artist and maker friends sell at their store after adding to their collection they make new friends along the way.
Caroline effortlessly makes you feel at ease after first walking into Calliope. You’re not in a store, you’ve entered a lifestyle. A piece of the couple’s home and are ready to take in all they have to share with you. While you’re there feel free to pop in your favorite record and browse the vintage reading selections. No rush while scanning the goods - buy something or don’t they are happy you stopped by. We were lucky enough to meet with Caroline to learn more about her retail philosophy, how to balance wearing so many hats and where to get some decent (insert food in interview) in the West Village.
349 w. 12th street, between Washington and Greenwich Streets, in the West Village
Correct phonetic pronunciation of Calliope? For you, what’s the meaning behind the word?
k-ah-ly-ah-pee. In Greek mythology, Calliope was thought to be the muse of all muses. She's got her art, literature, and music game on lock down.
We love that the stunningly curated goods in your store are globally influenced, what’s your best memory from a travel buying trip?
When Michael and I first began discussing the idea of opening a store we took a trip to Morocco and drove up the coast and over to Fez. We fell in love with some handmade leather and rug bags and decided to bring a few back. Those were the first products we bought for the store- we knew we wanted to do this and had a basic idea of what we wanted it to be and we loved the bags so much that we thought it was worth sitting on a dozen or so of them until Calliope finally came to life.
How often will we find Darryl, your sweet pup, at the store?
He's there most days, lounging on his favorite chair. Since we live upstairs he's always somewhere wandering around the building.
With concept and hybrid shopping experiences it can be challenging to emphasize that everything is for sale. How do you tackle this and what do you want your customer’s leaving the shop feeling?
We didn't want the shop to scream "BUY ME! I'M FOR SALE!!!" and have giant price tags on every single object in sight. We have a few scattered placards explaining the idea of the shop and what pieces are customizable, etc. We try to create an inviting dialogue with our customers, shopping shouldn't be a scary or intimidating experience. If you want to chat, great! If you're more into finding your own way, we sit back and let you discover things for yourself but are always on hand to answer any questions. Most of our customers are excited to ask questions about the objects we carry, especially the vintage pieces that a bit of history behind them.
Best glass of rosé in the West Village.
My roof! Or,the refrigerator in the back of Calliope. If I'm going out for a glass of wine I usually head to Buvette or Hudson Clearwater in the summer, both have cute little gardens in the back. On the front table of the store we have a little takeaway map of our favorite local picks for the season- bars, coffee shops, fun places that may be off the beaten path.
How do you come across the makers that fill your store?
A lot of the things we carry come from friends of ours. Michael and I are incredibly lucky to have an inspiring circle of friends who are making beautiful things. It's great for us to have a space to showcase and be some type of weird foster home for their designs and pieces.
As a store owner, jewelry maker, model and the list keeps going.. How important is it for you to make time for yourself?
Alone time is really important, especially now that I have Calliope. When I was solely making jewelry, I spent a lot of time in the studio alone, so there was a lot of quiet time to think and reflect. Now that I am in the store quite a bit and interacting with a lot of people every day, I find myself craving a small walk around the block or an hour or two by myself where I'm not thinking about design or new products or how much we sold that day. It took a while, but I finally learned that it's okay to take five minutes here and there to get some air or close your eyes for a moment to get some peace and allow yourself to reset.
Top 3 vintage records you have in stock at the moment.
Oof, three is tough, I have a lot: Billy Joel's Greatest Hits, The Pointer Sisters Break Out, Charlie Daniel's Band Fire on the Mountain, Temptations Live! and a record of all of JFK's historic presidential speeches.
Your event space sounds incredible, what type of programming are you planning?
We've just recently opened And&And, a gallery space that is connected to Calliope. We've done everything from seated dinners to art shows, presentations for Fashion Week, and more intimate concerts.
Not sure if people realize but ALL the furniture is for sale. Will you tell us a bit about the designers you carry?
We have a few large scale pieces- couches from Michael Felix and Stephen Kenn, some pieces by LA artist Chris Earl, and some lighting designed by Fort Makers. We also offer custom pieces that Michael and I have created together- the two large tables in the store and the bookshelf are able to be customized to fit your particular space and needs.
How does your community influence Calliope?
The West Village is truly a great neighborhood here in New York and feels like one of the few remaining areas that is an actual community. We love for people to come in and hang out for a while, sit on the couch and read a magazine, play with Darryl, whatever you want. We love being a place where neighbors and people strolling through the 'hood can come and take a load off and do a little shopping if they want.