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2012 February 29

Catching Up With...Veronica Beard

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Veronica Beard and Veronica Beard. Veronica Beard and Veronica Beard.
Photo courtesy Veronica Beard.
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(NEW YORK) It only took a single idea, a menswear-inspired jacket with a zip-out "dickie" to be exact, for designers (and sister-in-laws) Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard to break out onto the fashion scene in 2010 with, you guessed it, their eponymous line Veronica Beard! In two years, the tightly-edited, jacket-heavy collection morphed into a full-fledged ready-to-wear offering, bowing in 60 stores across the globe and taking this design duo on the fast track to the big leagues.
MARIA DENARDO 

How did you meet?
VSB:
We met at a friend’s wedding. Veronica Miele Beard was sitting with her husband and I was seated at the same table with my future husband, Jamie Beard.

What was your initial reaction?
VMB:
I was pregnant at the time and Veronica’s sister, Alexis, couldn’t believe there was another Veronica so she introduced us, ‘Veronica, you have to meet Veronica!” I reminded Jamie later that he should get on that one! I loved that I met someone with the same name—at least she was beautiful and cool.
VSB: Marrying Jamie was already on my mind that night, but as I was sitting there, across from Veronica, I kept thinking that the relationship wouldn’t go anywhere because there couldn’t be two Veronica Beards. Luckily, it all worked out.

Does your shared name ever confuse people?
VSB:
Always! But, it’s great because that means we can be in two places at once.

When did you decide to launch a brand together?
VMB:
 I’m a serial entrepreneur. I came from finance and helped launch a hedge fund. After my fourth child, I had left Wall Street to be home with the kids for a while. During that time, Veronica and I always kicked the can around about ideas, starting with the interchangeable jacket. We decided to make it and see how people responded. We learned there was a huge demand from women so we kept making easy to wear pieces for a woman’s daily uniform and launched officially in Fall 2010. That’s what the line is all about. And we understand our clients. We are our clients.

What drives you nuts in the showroom?
VSB:
We fight like sisters. We love hard, and we fight hard. Anything that ends up in the final collections has really been thought over and fought over. There’s always that conversation, like, ‘You’re showing too much boob’ or ‘You’re not showing enough leg!’
VMB: Proportion is a major conversation. I’m more cost conscious and Veronica is the dreamer, so sometimes I have to play the bad guy.

You recently launched a full ready to wear collection.
VSB:
We had amazing feedback. Our palazzo desert pants were really strong, and the jacket remains a mainstay, of course.
VMB: Our “Skinny Dress” from Resort sold out very quickly.

At what point did your career really take off?
VSB:
When Saks took us on. Out of all the department stores, Saks was up over 10 percent for the year. They’ve really responded to how the market is moving and have gotten behind us 100 percent. We’re really grateful for that partnership. Beyond department stores, we’ve created amazing relationships with specialty stores. In the Fall, we’ll be in 60 stores altogether!

What boutiques would you love to add to your roster?
VSB:
We’re very calculated about our distribution. We don’t want too many stores in one area. We want customers to really understand the brand and feel like they’ve found something special. Elyse Walker in California would be great. Ikram in Chicago, too.
VMB: We’d also like to penetrate New Jersey a little better. I’m was born there, and I know there’s so many dollars in Jersey.
VSB: We’ll be in Saks Short Hills in the fall!

You’re known as the Queens of the Jacket. Ever consider a secondary line?
VMB:
We think about everything—menswear, childrenswear, you name it. But, the margins on kids’ clothing are tough. You’re still making a tailored jacket, but it’s shrunken so you can’t sell it for $400. We’re still thinking.

What’s your biggest obstacle?
VMB:
Keeping our margins while using these beautiful fabrics. We make everything in New York, so it’s a little more expensive, but we believe in this product and sticking to this price point. We hope to increase our volume. As volume increases, prices go down.

Do you road test everything?
VSB:
Absolutely. We make sure that everything we make, you can get into yourself...without the help of a boyfriend or husband. And we always bend over in our skirts to make sure you can easily move! 
VMB: We also try to test the jackets through the winter, because we know how hard it is to get coats over blazers or fur vests. I take my kids skating in our outerwear, testing the warmth. We’re always asking questions like, ‘Can I wear a bra with that?’
VSB: Or ‘Do I need to move the pant higher so my roll doesn’t roll over?’

Where’s the strangest place you’ve tried out a new collection?
VSB:
We recently went to Richmond, Virginia for a fashion show. We don’t do presentations or runway shows, but we did a home-grown fashion show with real women for charity.

Do you ever double date?
VSB:
All the time! It’s the same date, though. We go to Il Cantinori over and over again.

What does Veronica Beard have in store for the next year?
VSB:
When you’re newer and buyers are purchasing wholesale, you get a very limited view of the line so we’re in the early stages of looking into pop-up shops! 

Plus: 10 Things You Never Knew About The Veronicas!

Veronica Miele Beard

1. If it were up to me, I would be pregnant with my sixth kid.
2. I’m friends (only in my head) with Larry David.
3. I love Jon Bon Jovi. What can I say? I’m a Jersey girl.
4. On the constant quest for the effortless chic.
5. I’m a closet math geek.
6. I wear a size 11 shoe.
7. Confidence is when my whole outfit from makeup to clothes rock the venue.
8. I much prefer an imported white from Burgundy.
9. I prefer the “getting ready” part of every event over the actual event.
10. Three of my kids have Gone With The Wind names: Scarlett, India and M. Rhett. 


Veronica Swanson Beard

1. I was born in Naples, Florida. 
2. I'm always looking for signs.
3. I speak Spanish fluently and so do my sons. 
4. I am a sugar addict.
5. I was obsessed with Bob Marley in high school! 
6. I read magazines like crazy and buy all the tabloids every week.
7. I have a high arch, so super high heels are more comfortable than flats.
8. I am hyper-observant.
9. I speak to both of my sisters at least twice a day.
10. My favorite thing is having my boys in bed with us in the morning on the weekends! 




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