Married couple Caroline and Jessica Kaplan are owners of the company, J. Caress Studio, which offers a variety of LGBTQ-themed greeting cards, art prints, sapphic erotica as well as custom portraiture.
We ask them few questions.
Could you tell us little about yourself…
Caroline and Jessica: We are a wife-wife owned creative company that designs and illustrates original greeting cards and artworks offering what our LGBTQ community is looking for while highlighting an appreciation for sarcasm, sensuality, and sincerity. Our cards, art prints, pieces of erotica and commissioned illustrations are all created with love expressly for people like us—those seeking that special, very personal item you can’t quite find anywhere else.
Jessica is an artistic jack-of-all-trades, holding college degrees in Fine Arts and Interior Design. Caroline is an illustrator and graphic designer holding degrees in the same fields (our love affair first blossomed over 14 years ago while we were both studying Interior Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC), along with a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Pre-Med and a Master of Science in Medical Illustration. Our professional backgrounds include retail, marketing, design and illustration services.
How did you meet, was it love at first sight or it developed with time?
Caroline and Jessica: We met at ages 19 and 20 while students at Fashion Institute of Technology back in 2002. We both remember the moment we first met—at Pearl Paint on Canal Street, no longer there nowadays. Jessica, bright-eyed from Ohio, says she was in awe of me and that I was an impressive New Yorker going after the dream. I, Caroline, remember thinking Jessica was a lunatic, and after meeting her I knew nothing would ever be the same. Here we are in 2017, together for 14 years, six of them legally wed.
How did you come up with J. Caress Studio, what actually pushed you to do it? What is the idea behind it?
Caroline and Jessica: The idea was sparked six years ago when Jessica and I got married. Despite the fact that we had guests attend from across the country, we found that–of those able to find a card for a lesbian wedding–they all only had access to and bought the same one, which we subsequently received several times. While this affected us on slightly more of a subconscious level, we didn’t take action until December 2015, after Caroline’s aunt married a woman and experienced the exact same thing, opening multiples of the latest widely available lesbian wedding card. A full five years had passed, gay marriage was finally the law of the land, the tide had supposedly turned, and yet something so simple but so important had not changed at all. We took all our years of talking and dreaming about owning some type of art business together and decided to make it real for an honest and beautiful cause.
Can you tell us a little bit about J. Caress Studio?
Caroline and Jessica: We are a wife-and-wife owned creative company offering the LGBTQ community a range of products that reflect our lifestyle, including unique greeting cards for special occasions and beautiful artwork that celebrates our love. We all talk about gay pride, but these items can be an important source and reflection of that pride. We’re a sculptor and an illustrator. And both painters. We do commission portraits. As creative and entrepreneurial individuals of the LGBTQ community, we want to build a recognizable brand that starts a movement of inclusiveness. We care about all the moving parts of our business, from creation to marketing, with ideas for and interest in growth.
What is most challenging about it?
Caroline and Jessica: Marketing art-based products in the social media age is a challenge. But our demographic has long been underrepresented and underserved, and we want to help rectify that. As lesbians and artists, we established our company to focus our talents on increasing the visibility and inclusiveness of the LGBTQ community.
What’s your best-selling product?
Caroline and Jessica: Our greeting cards are our best selling at the product right now. It’s hard to get people to remember we do other things, but so far some of the most popular greeting cards are http://jcaress.com/greeting-cards/breakfast and http://jcaress.com/greeting-cards/sentiments-truth
What is the best part of work?
Caroline and Jessica: We hope we are providing an important source of the pride we should all feel as a community. And we want our allies to feel welcome because without your love and support we could not be where we are today, so in a way, we feel we are on our way to helping bridge a gap in society.
Your art is sexual nature but as well sensual, how does it reflect you as artists?
Caroline and Jessica: It’s an important part of both of our psyches, like anyone else. Everyone’s on a spectrum; some more timid and others quite free. We aren’t afraid to show our sexuality or sensuality. Instead, we embrace it and express it through our art. And we feel the expression of love that isn’t heteronormative is a must in our society today.
Do you feel that your work have an impact on the LGBTQ community?
Caroline and Jessica: Yes, and we hope to meet so many LGBTQ and allied individuals looking to challenge society’s norms, to talk to them and gain their perspectives, to help tell their stories, and for them to help us get the word out that J. Caress Studio exists. At Staten Island Pride Fest this year, we met a young lady who was moved to tears by one of our greeting cards. Talk about a reward!
On you site, you have mentioned that J. Caress Studio exhibits greeting cards with Nitecap Megastore at Staten Island Pride Fest. How did that happen?
Caroline and Jessica: Nitecap Megastore on Staten Island is one of the first stores to carry a selection of J. Caress Studio cards. We have also displayed with Nitecap Megastore on previous occasions, such as last year’s 2016 SHE Expo and EXXXotica 2016.
Where can customers go to purchase your products and do you deliver worldwide?
Caroline and Jessica: We are available online 24/7 at our website jcaress.com and on Etsy, but selections of our cards can be found in the following locations:
Sid Azmi’s Please in South Slope, Brooklyn
Nitecap Megastore in Staten Island, New York
Narell Perry’s The Slinky Minx online store in Australia
I Love Excitement Video – Five locations throughout Pennsylvania
Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Caroline and Jessica: If you’d like to keep up with our current works, follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook at @j.caress.studio. There’s lots more to come.