Jake and Cassie Greatens of CASS Contemporary: “Get away time”

Get away time: Life can be fast and overwhelming. Being business partners and having four kids, we can get caught up in moving all day. We are very good about planning get away time, whether it is a dinner, a movie, locking ourselves in our room and binge watching a show, or jumping on a […]

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Get away time: Life can be fast and overwhelming. Being business partners and having four kids, we can get caught up in moving all day. We are very good about planning get away time, whether it is a dinner, a movie, locking ourselves in our room and binge watching a show, or jumping on a plane and doing a weekend away- we have to remember we are Jake and Cassie, husband and wife, not just mom and dad or CASS owners.

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cassie and Jake Greatens.

Cassie and Jake Greatens are Gallerists and Art Consultants with businesses in Tampa, FL and Nashville, TN. They specialize in showcasing contemporary art scaling from city and developer public art works, curated gallery exhibitions and residential and commercial spaces around the country. Their passions include anything pertaining to the arts, traveling around the world and spending time with their family.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

Jake’s background is in studio art. My background is in government and education, however I was brought up in a business family. About 10 years ago, we traveled to Europe and stayed for a month. I think we visited every museum or gallery that was in Paris, Berlin and London. When we got home, we were talking over dinner and came up with the idea of opening up a gallery in Tampa and making it something different than anything we had seen in the city.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?

Our story in itself is interesting; we have been on and off since we were 16 years old. We moved all over the country but could never get out of each other’s heads. We have been together now for 16 years and married for 15. 24 years ago, while we were hanging out at a party together, if you would have told me that Jake and I would be married with four kids and owned a business together — I would have been excited but shocked. Then we went on different career tracks but found ourselves for almost 10 years now, owning a gallery and an art-consulting firm. From newbies hosting exhibits, to brokering monumental masterpieces for our clients — this whole thing — our journey has been interesting and surreal.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Yes, we definitely have a funny story about that. At our first exhibit, Jake, our Gallery Director and myself were walking around selling pieces at the same time. We all met back up in the office only to realize we had each sold a piece but to two different people. After a slight panic attack, we came up with an approach to address the buyers. Luckily, the clients were easy going and found it humorous, even getting into a fun bidding war to see who would end up with the piece. We were overwhelmed with the success of the exhibit and how many pieces were being purchased, so we didn’t ever dream this would happen, however the next week we put a system together about openings and works being sold and how we handle all inquires moving forward.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We think what makes CASS stand out is the relationships that Jake and I have formed with our artists and clients. The artists have a direct line to us and we want to work with them on a professional level, but some of these artists have become our friends. We have a similar relationship with our collectors and commercial clients. We pride ourselves on our customer service, it really becomes less of customer service and more of that we actually care about our clients. We have been known to fly all over to meet clients for dinners, brainstorming ideas for their collections and connecting to build a relationship. We are a one stop shop that cares about them personally and professionally.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are working on some amazing projects. We are always looking to expand our consulting clientele and looking forward to working with City Foundry in St. Louis this fall and spring. We have incredible artists, such as Case Maclaim lined up to mural several buildings in the new development. Our goal was to bring the people of St. Louis, whether they live in the city or just right outside. Jake selected artists that would make people visit City Foundry and admire the new artwork. We also have a new parking garage mural going up, as well as two new window activations in the newly developed Water Street area in Tampa.

We are excited to be working with Willa’s, a new restaurant in Tampa. We are working with an art group that is transforming the outside of Willa’s with a new painted pot installation and mural. On top of the commercial projects, we are continuing to build and manage individual’s collections all across the country. And of course, we have our really cool events in the fall too that will be held in Tampa. We have our “Halfway to Winefest Art Brunch” featuring Joram Roukes and our new exhibit, our first exhibit since Covid, “Paint it Forward Vol, 2” is featuring 11 established artist who have each picked am emerging artist. The show is all about helping one another and lending a hand to someone.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

The advice we would give is make your employees or your collaborators feel a sense of ownership. No one cares about your company more than you, but if you let your employees feel like they have an opinion and some ownership in something then the company becomes their baby too. Stepping back and listening to different perspectives or ideas is what will help grow your business and it will look multi dimensional. People want to be heard and we love partnering with different brands and allowing our employees to share ideas and brainstorm new ways to do things in the art world.

How do you define “Leadership”?

Leadership is the ability to have people follow you and jump on board with what you are suggesting, but also the ability to sit back and listen, watch and learn. Leaders demonstrate leadership by thinking outside of the box and taking risks or giant leaps of faith.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Cassie’s dad has been very instrumental in us following our dreams, dreaming big, not ever throwing in the towel. When we wanted to start the gallery, we were newbies in the industry and her dad told us, “When you introduce yourself, state your name like you are the President of the United States. No matter who is in the room, know you are worthy and always act like you are bigger than what you may even be at that time. If you do that, you will succeed.” Cassie and I have taken this advice with us every step of the way.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We always try to donate and give back to organizations whenever we can. We have donated to local non-profit organizations throughout the years that give back to families and children. We also always give back to the Tampa Museum of Art’s education program. Another way CASS gives back is trying to make our events and art in general not intimidating but rather enticing for all walks of life. We want our openings to bring people together. Our upcoming exhibit is all about giving back.

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

We definitely have 5 things you need to thrive as a couple, in no particular order

  • Respecting each others hobbies: Jake is a vintage car collector and it’s important that I talk to him about his passions and interests. I don’t have to become an expert in the subject but showing interest makes it where you can be individuals but not grow apart. My hobby is cooking, I could do it all day. Jake is always asking to help me in the kitchen, trying my recipes and just aware of what makes me happy.
  • Humor: To us, humor and laughter is everything. After all this time I still think Cassie is the funniest in the room. We don’t care if other people are even laughing at our jokes, we are always cracking each other up and with laughter comes happiness.
  • Attraction: After 24 years I still get butterflies when I look at Jake. We haven’t let aging or all our years together take away from how much we are attracted to each other. Some couples that part fades, but to us, that part is still so much alive and one of the most important things to have a as couple- mutual attraction for one another.
  • Get away time: Life can be fast and overwhelming. Being business partners and having four kids, we can get caught up in moving all day. We are very good about planning get away time, whether it is a dinner, a movie, locking ourselves in our room and binge watching a show, or jumping on a plane and doing a weekend away- we have to remember we are Jake and Cassie, husband and wife, not just mom and dad or CASS owners.
  • Shared dreams/same ideas: Make sure you have the same morals/values/dreams. They can vary but being on the same page about life is very important. We both want to take CASS always to the next level, we both want our kids to grow up and be kind, contributing citizens. In general, life is sweet and sour but having a partner that has similar views and dreams as you can help have a successful future together.

You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Is it unrealistic to say, “Kind and Together not Hateful and Apart”? As we mentioned earlier, we want to partner with the things we feel that bring people together; art, food, drinks, and music. So many family and friends are torn apart over differing opinions and just watching all the hate that is going on all over the world is heartbreaking. Come together and stand next to someone that maybe you disagree with but share a smile, have a drink, enjoy some amazing food, and take in the incredible artwork in the room. Maybe through our public art projects or our events we can get people to realize maybe they aren’t that different after all?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of the best quotes is “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted” by the great, late John Lennon. Life is so fast and we are only here one time- so every little thing is sacred. Sometimes we are just laying around with our kids and I say we need to get up we wasting time and they even remind me- this is our time. Some of those moments of “doing nothing” are the most special- and instead of looking at it like you are wasting time, look at it as you are soaking up the time you have here.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Jake and I have always said if we could eat a meal with one person it would have been the amazing, Alex Trebek. There is one thing that happens in our house every night and that’s jeopardy. It might not be at the exact time it comes on, but we make time to watch it, our kids watch it… it’s another one of those special times. We have both seen Alex for over 35 years every weeknight. Jake and I are trivia buffs and love playing against each other, playing against ourselves. The joy you see on your kid’s face when they answer a jeopardy question is priceless. We would just to say thank you for giving us those memories, thank you for always pronouncing everything perfectly, thank you for your wit, thank you for giving us that time with our kids and our parents when we were kids.

How can our readers follow your work online?

Please go check out our website casscontemporary.com and our Instagram, @casscontemporary which highlights things we are working on or projects that we have recently completed.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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