What are the odds that two brothers – Anson and Jamie Beard – both marry women named Veronica?
And then, what are the odds that “The Veronicas” join forces and create a fashion brand?
And finally, what are the odds that Veronica Beard – the label – is a high-flying success?
And it couldn’t have happened to two lovelier, more talented women – women who, shall we say, make it happen.
24/7, 365 days a year.
ALINA CHO: When I realized you started your brand in 2010, I nearly dropped to the floor. I cannot believe it's been eleven years.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: Well, Alina, you've known us the whole time.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: I know.
ALINA CHO: I believe you launched with Kirna Zabête.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: We had samples of [our dickey].
And [we] had lunch with [Kirna Zabête founders] Sarah [Easley] and Beth [Buccini] and said, "What do you all think about this?" And they said, "We'll take it to Paris and see what the reaction is." And so, they wore it around Paris [during fashion week] and people loved them, and they came back and said, "We're placing an order."
ALINA CHO: Wow.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: And then, Gwyneth [Paltrow] went in their store and picked it out as one of her favorite picks. It was on Goop.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: It was that Oprah moment for us.
ALINA CHO: Totally, totally.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: We talk so much about audience and segmentation, and all that sort-of digital stuff today, but eleven years ago, we weren't talking about that. So, for us, in those early days, to have the seal of approval from Gwyneth, it was a huge deal. Our customer was this mom-on-the-go, that’s turned into a lot of career women, and all sorts of women. But at that time, it was this amazing picture of her when she was living in London, and she was wearing the jacket with these baggy boyfriend jeans.
And it was exactly the way that we would have wanted it to be worn.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: Listen, Gwyneth is our “age and stage.” And the fact that she would be a customer was gangbusters.
ALINA CHO: Take me back to the beginning. What was your original idea for the brand?
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Well, at that time, it was after the [financial] crisis, 2008. And so, there was a void in the market for clothing that was between designer and contemporary.
ALINA CHO: And when you say contemporary, you mean priced between...
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Well, average price point, probably, is $200. to $800., in that price [range].
ALINA CHO: Right.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: And there was this misconception, at that point, that the contemporary floor [at department stores] was for young people, that it was the young, 20-something floor. But the reality was, it was still very expensive clothing. And it wasn't women [who] were in their twenties or in their teens [doing the buying], it was women who were in their thirties and forties.
ALINA CHO: So, you felt you were seeing these price points and the clothing, and it just wasn't matching.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Right, that whole moment was “model off duty” — [Alexander] Wang crop tops, skinny, tight, all that stuff, which was amazing. But there was room for more tailoring. This kind-of cool, classic piece that was missing.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: But wait, before that, Alina, the dickey jacket existed for men. And Veronica and I were in the midst of having babies. And I was in finance, and I did see every man in their suit and tie, and thought, look, they have a uniform every day that they put on...
ALINA CHO: Why don't we have one?
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: What am I wearing? How am I going to look legit, and feminine, and still stylish, right? We thought, my God, every woman would benefit from this Wonder Woman cape.
You put it on over your jeans, or over your sweatsuit, or over your dress…
ALINA CHO: For people who don't understand what a dickey is, explain to me what is a dickey?
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: So, in the old school definition of a dickey, it's the little collar or turtleneck bib that you would put inside of a sweater. So, it looks as though you're wearing a turtleneck under a sweater or a blouse, but you don't have any of the bulk.
ALINA CHO: That's right. You don't have the bulk of that whole other garment inside. It's really just around your neck.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Right. But ours, it's a zip in, interchangeable sweater or garment that goes into the jacket that looks like you're wearing a blazer with a denim jacket underneath it, or a fisherman sweater, or a motorcycle jacket.
And it gives this really cool illusion of layering, style, all these things, without the bulk. And it became this craze because women would buy a blue blazer or a black blazer and four [zip-in] dickey jackets, and it became a uniform.
ALINA CHO: Is the dickey still as popular today as when you launched?
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Yes, our dickey jacket is still our signature item and our number one seller.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: But also, every time we got into something new, it was because there was that hole in the market.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: The need warranted it.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: Yeah, the need warranted it. There were jeans out there, how can we do our own jeans?
How can we do them better? And how can we be more on trend?
ALINA CHO: Or by the way, right now, [your] clogs, which I'm totally obsessed with.
Clogs are so hot right now, but good ones are hard to find.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: They are, yeah.
ALINA CHO: So, is that what happened?
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: [I’m always] saying, “Veronica, what do you want in your closet? What are we looking for? What doesn't exist out there? I'm dying to have this, and this designer did it really well, but we can do it better.”
ALINA CHO: And that's how [Veronica Beard has] grown organically.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: And look, in COVID, she wasn't going out. So, we had to get into sweats, [which] we didn't have before...
ALINA CHO: But sweats, the Veronica Beard way.
Which is a very cool sweater with a matching pant, that's also in a knit.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: You get us.
ALINA CHO: I've known you girls a long time.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: You can wear our sweats to work with a heel.
ALINA CHO: I want to talk about your Make It Happen Initiative. What's the idea behind it and why'd you decide to do it?
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Make It Happen was really born out of COVID, and not being together as a company, not being with our customers, not doing the things that we usually do. Veronica and I went from being on the road once or twice a week to sitting at home, on Zoom, crying to each other.
ALINA CHO: Wow.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: So, I think there was so much soul searching in what is this brand about? What is the guiding light, the north star of Veronica Beard? And what makes us different?
ALINA CHO: Right.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: And at the end of the day, we knew, God willing, that we would get through COVID and come out of this. But our brand's always been about women who make it happen. The movers and shakers, the doers, the makers, incredible women who get up and get it done, go after their dreams, help people make a difference, are passionate, seek fulfillment, all those things.
ALINA CHO: Incredible.
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: And it was defining that, and finding women who really exhibited that, and [introducing them to] our community — women we really respect and who inspire this brand. And it's been so fun.
And by the way, through this, we've uncovered so many incredible stories. And every one of these women has a story and has their struggles, and their triumphs, and sharing that and understanding that this climb that Veronica and I have had is...
VERONICA SWANSON BEARD: Universal.
VERONICA MIELE BEARD: Everyone's got their climb, everyone's got their story, and their struggle, and their triumph. And so, we want to hear about it. We want you to share it and we want to acknowledge it.