The Wonder Women of Veronica Beard
The co-founders of the women’s fashion brand Veronica Beard talk about leadership, empowering women, and how they design for the “cool, classic and chic” women who wear their clothes.
In 2010, Veronica Beard broke onto the fashion scene with its now-famous signature Dickey Jacket. Co-founded by sisters-in-law Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard, their eponymous label has grown from a design startup to a coveted brand worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and Gwyneth Paltrow.
While Veronica Beard’s success owes to the Veronicas’ keen business acumen and deep understanding of their customer, the beating heart of the brand remains a celebration of busy women. They describe the Veronica Beard woman as a combination of “cool, classic and chic,” someone with a fast-paced lifestyle much like their own.
As Veronica Miele Beard said, “The Dickey Jacket is the Wonder Woman cape. We are always doing the ‘costume change’ while on the go.” Veronica Swanson Beard notes, “Our clothing is meant to empower women to fulfill the multitude of passions in their daily lives. We are women for women.”
To learn more about their remarkable growth amid a fast-changing retail apparel industry, we spoke with the Veronica Beard founders about the challenges they’ve faced while growing their business, the lessons they’ve learned in leadership and management, and their dedication to supporting women through philanthropic endeavors.
What was the initial inspiration for Veronica Beard?
Veronica Swanson Beard: Veronica comes from a finance background and I came from the fashion world, and we’ve both always had a love for the fashion industry. Whenever we got together, we would always talk about business ideas—from maternity clothes to handbags and everything in between—and we came down to the concept of designing a classics-with-a-twist uniform for busy women. The Dickey Jacket was the first piece of that uniform.
Veronica Miele Beard: We asked, ‘What’s missing in the market and what can we design that women need today? What does a busy woman throw on when she wants to look put together that she can wear anywhere?’ We wanted clothes for ourselves that could serve as style cornerstones in our wardrobe. We were our customer.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned in growing the company?
VSB: Your biggest failures can become your greatest successes. You can’t let a setback stop you because there’s so much to learn from each roadblock. You need to be patient with yourself and recognize setbacks as part of the growth process and not as failures.
VMB: We’ve learned how to manage time better. We’re juggling so many things, so we’ve got to keep it moving and think of the big picture. You can’t get caught up in the weeds on something that doesn’t impact the greater good of the business.
In addition to the NYC, LA and Dallas store locations, you are expanding into more brick-and-mortar stores in other cities. How are you succeeding in that while also keeping up with e-commerce?
VSB: We look at the brick-and-mortar stores as a chance to invite customers into our brand’s ‘home.’ E-commerce is convenient, but it’s also two-dimensional. Entering our store, you can understand and engage with the brand: the color palettes we love, the music we play, the prints we’re drawn to—that tells a story for us in a very different way from e-commerce, which is purely a visual experience.
VMB: We are data-driven, and we constantly pore over which cities hold opportunity and what brick-and-mortar deals there are. Los Angeles was a natural location because it’s our second-largest market, but we had to wait for the right store to become available on the right street and at the right price point. If our customer loves the brand, she wants to shop it any time she can. When she’s at home on her computer, walking past our store, at another retail store—it’s about getting to her in as many ways as possible to make it convenient for her.
What’s been your reaction to so many celebrities wearing your brand?
VSB: When Gwyneth Paltrow wore the Dickey Jacket, it was organic. We didn’t call her and ask her to do so. J-Lo also has one, and Sarah Jessica Parker does too. When you see an influencer buying it and wearing it, it’s the biggest testament to what you’re doing. Think of who Michelle Obama influences. She influences so many.
VMB: It’s very exciting to see celebrities wearing Veronica Beard; but truly, there’s nothing more exciting to either one of us than being in a cab in New York City and seeing a random person in Veronica Beard. We know that person bought our brand, but we don’t know them. We don’t know where they got it. That is growth. People you haven’t personally influenced at all who still understand and love your brand.
How has your relationship with Chase and J.P. Morgan helped your business grow and succeed?
VMB: Getting a loan in the current climate is ridiculously difficult. When Veronica and I started the business, we put our own money in and had to back this business with our homes because banks weren’t giving loans. But Chase was there for us.
VSB: We no longer have to back the business personally. The peace of mind the relationship has given us has been amazing.
VMB: I travel constantly, and the bank’s online portal (Chase Connect®) is very easy to use and allows us to view our accounts from anywhere. In terms of our company culture, Veronica and I emphasize openness, inclusivity and teamwork with our own employees. I get that from Chase and J.P. Morgan as well. It’s not just one person at the bank who knows Veronica Beard; the whole team knows us. It’s professional but with a very homegrown feeling. That’s how we are too.
How does Veronica Beard give back to support women’s initiatives and passions?
VSB: Through our clothing, our mission and just getting started as two women in this industry, we’re dedicated to empowering women. We’re big believers that if you’ve been lucky and have received a lot, you should spread the generosity. It really is that idea of what goes around, comes around. That’s a big part of our brand and our ethos as a company.
VMB: With our philanthropic program, VB Gives Back, every month we feature on our website a powerful woman doing amazing charitable work. We describe what she’s doing and who she’s impacting. And then $10 per online order goes toward her charity. VB Gives Back celebrates the great accomplishments of other women who are passionate about making a difference.
What are your favorite pieces from the current collection?
VSB: I love our jeans that are so easy to throw on with any Veronica Beard jacket or blouse.
VMB: Our new track pants and matching jacket are perfect for an office or cocktail party.
Chase Connect is a registered trademark of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co.