Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard are the spirited sister-in-law act and fashion mavens behind Veronica Beard, the New York–based ready-to-wear brand. The two Veronicas, who married brothers, share an entrepreneurial energy and interest in fashion.
Growing up in Florida and California, Swanson Beard credits her mother and her mother’s friends for feeding her love of fashion. “I grew up around women that really, really lived for their personal style,” the co-founder says. “There weren’t as many choices as there are today, so women really had pieces in their wardrobe that were important to them.” She later studied at Tulane University before moving to New York, where she enrolled at the Parsons School of Design and worked with designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Narciso Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Miele Beard grew up riding horses in New Jersey and dreamt of becoming a veterinarian. Ultimately, however, she followed her nose to Wall Street, where she pursued her love of trading. She eventually became the COO of a technology hedge fund, which taught her the importance of a strong first impression. “I had this big role—I had to raise money—and I realized as soon as people see you, they make a perception,” she says. The mother of five started yearning for a simple yet stylish uniform she could reach for every day.
“Veronica [Swanson Beard] and I were always trying to change the world,” Miele Beard says. “Or trying to figure out where are the holes in the market.” Their aha moment came after observing the simple style and practicality of men’s jackets. They decided to produce a reimagined prototype for themselves, with a series of sleeveless shirts that could be zipped in for a bulk-free, versatile ensemble. The resulting product was a life-changing coffee-to-cocktails wardrobe solution that led to their fledgling fashion business. “I always dreamt that this would be what I would do,” Swanson Beard says, “but it wasn’t until Veronica and I came together that it was a reality.”
From the earliest days, the Beards have built their business slowly and strategically while staying focused on creating cool yet classic uniforms for women on the go. “Our growth is very important, and our success is very important, but we want to be designing and delivering a great product,” Swanson Beard says. What started with a rack of their dickey jackets has evolved into a full lifestyle collection with premium denim, footwear, suits, and dresses. In the process, the brand has attracted a bevy of fans, from Gisele Bündchen, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow to the throngs of multigenerational women who wear Veronica Beard every day. The Business of Fashion predicts the label will hit $250 million in sales this year.
The duo weave their individual perspectives into one cohesive vision and design every garment with a hypercritical eye and obsessive attention to detail, examining the form, function, and fit that will best suit their customers’ lifestyle. “A lot of times, when clothes come down the runway, they are designed from the perspective of an artist,” Miele Beard says. “There is a different vantage when you are actually wearing it.”
Vintage is a source of inspiration, particularly for Swanson Beard, who admires the quality of older garments. “Today, fashion is so fast, and everything ends up looking very similar,” she says. “I think that has been our success: we create really classic, timeless clothing, so it is not as disposable.”
By the end of 2023, Veronica Beard will have 33 retail locations, each serving as a hub for the brand’s burgeoning community, which includes onsite events and charitable initiatives such as #VBGivesBack. “We are big believers in ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Swanson Beard says. “It is a core tenet to the brand.” Recently, the company, whose president, Stephanie Unwin, is a former Torontonian, opened its first Canadian outpost in Yorkville after seeing tremendous demand through online traffic and local wholesale partners.
While working with a family member could be challenging for many, the Beards see themselves as partners through and through. “We have to make this work because we are married to each other, basically, so it is a family business,” Miele Beard says. “We have a mutual respect for each other, and both of our names are on the door.”