For entrepreneurial power couple Michael and Caroline Ventura, “working from home” means much more than posting up all day on the couch with a laptop. The husband-and-wife team runs multiple businesses and creative ventures from a 19th-century, three-story building in the West Village. The 18,000-square-foot building used to be three townhomes, but it’s now a unified structure rented out entirely by the Venturas.
Calliope (a home goods store that also offers art classes), And&And (a 2,500-square-foot event space), and Sub Rosa (Michael’s creative design and marketing studio) surround their apartment. Both Michael and Caroline float seamlessly through the building, devoting a majority of their time to their main lines of business: Sub Rosa for Michael, and jewellery line BRVTVS for Caroline.
But with so many interests to juggle, every other moment between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. is guaranteed to be packed.
While their commute might be exceptionally short, both Michael and Caroline have had to develop a healthy work-life balance. At this point, they know better than almost anyone how being a business partner with your significant other is completely different from working with other employees.
Business Insider recently got the chance to visit their unique home and chat with them about what they have learned in eight years of collaboration.
Technically, Michael and Caroline have been working together since the day they met. 'We've always had a 'work together' mentality because we met on a job,' Caroline said. Michael added: 'I was creative-directing a shoot, and we hired Caroline's production company to produce some of the content.'
Their two-story apartment shares the second and third floors of the building with Sub Rosa, the 50-person design and creative firm that Michael founded and is CEO of.
To help create more of a distance between work and home, the couple made sure that a separate, private staircase was built to enter their apartment.
Over time, the two have learned how to separate work from home like 'church and state,' Michael said.
'When we first moved into this building, if we went out to dinner and we saw the light on on the second floor' of Sub Rosa, 'I'd poke my head in, and then a two-second pop-in could become a two-hour creative review,' Michael said. They started to treat their apartment as if it was in Brooklyn, he said. 'Once you're gone you're gone -- and that had to be learned.'
Both Caroline and Michael emphasised the importance of having time to yourself to create balance. 'Have a daily routine or practice that you can hold yourself to,' Michael said. 'That's what keeps me grounded. I bookend my days with having some quiet, personal body-mind time.'
A more social part of Michael's routine is a weekly happy hour on the shared roof of the couple's apartment and Sub Rosa. He said he's 'always happy' to host. 'It's nice to unwind with the team.'
Sub Rosa -- which Michael founded in 2004, when he was just 23 -- has worked with major brands such as Pepsi, Nike, and L.L.Bean.
Michael has created a comfortable environment for his employees with a style that's not all that different from his and Caroline's own apartment.
Although the couple have collaborated on various freelance projects for years, they consider their West Village store, Calliope, their most important joint business endeavour. The store, which sits on the first floor of the building, opened in spring 2015.
The shop is filled with carefully curated home goods, from furniture to decorative pots and candles. 'A part of what we love about buying for the store is we're meeting interesting makers, creators, and artists who are doing cool work out in the world, and we're able to (make sure) their stuff finds a home somewhere,' Michael said.
'We live two floors above, but our apartment and the store are very separate,' Caroline said. 'They have the same (aesthetic), but there's not a lot of product in here that you will see in our apartment, and that makes what we do own a little bit more special.'
In terms of divvying up the work, the couple say it came naturally. As buyers sourcing all of the products within Calliope, the two decide together what should and shouldn't be sold.
'It can be as in-depth as Michael and I sitting down together and going over every item, or just one of us sending an email' about a brand or product, Caroline said. 'There's always a discussion about it. We never just order something without the other person being a part of it.'
Working together as business partners has helped the couple learn how to craft constructive and careful feedback. 'It's easier to take stuff to heart when it's your partner that you're either rallying against or with,' Caroline said. 'And that's equal for when something amazing happens, too.'
They have also learned the art of empathy. 'Making sure we see something from all sides is something we practice as a family, and certainly something we practice as business owners also,' Michael said.
When it comes to working with a partner, the two have several pieces of advice, including don't go to bed angry, and listen to each other. 'If one of us is having a concern, it's easy to make snap decisions and snap reactions, and we've learned to slow down a minute and think about why a situation is bothering the other person,' Caroline said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.