It all began with a wedding. Two women, both named Veronica, coincidentally were seated at the same table. The stylish brunette, Veronica Miele Beard, was already married to Anson Beard, the nephew of photographer and writer Peter Beard. The intriguing and single blonde, Veronica Swanson, was sitting next to Jamie Beard. He would become her future husband.
Recalls Veronica Swanson Beard, “We were all seated together, and Jamie was shamelessly flirting, but I kept looking across the table at this gorgeous girl thinking there’s no way this is going anywhere because there’s not going to be two of us.”
“Meanwhile, I was in his ear, (saying) I love her, don’t let her slip away,” laughs Veronica Miele Beard.
Soon there were two Veronica Beards.
After Swanson married into the Beard family, the two Veronicas, now sisters-in-law, saw each other frequently at gatherings and holidays. It wasn’t long before their admiration for each other’s fashion sense led them to the idea of starting a business.
"Because we were entrepreneurs, we were always thinking about how we could make money, and we were constantly talking about what we could do,” recalls Miele Beard.
Fast-forward several years, and their Veronica Beard brand does big business online and through luxury department stores and boutiques. They just opened their third standalone retail store nationwide, in Dallas' Highland Park Village.
Their signature piece is a tailored jacket with a removable inner layer. They found it in their husbands’ closets and got the idea of creating a more feminine version. They launched their first capsule collection nearly eight years ago and have perfected the blazer with inset Dickeys of fishermen’s knit, camouflage, or biker’s leather. Able to be zipped in and out, the single garment can create multiple different looks.
“We were like, this is phenomenal; every woman should have this,” says Miele Beard.
Because Swanson Beard had a fashion background as a wholesale buyer, her contacts in public relations and retail stores helped them get started. The initial eight styles were quickly snapped up by the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and the trendsetting New York boutique Kirna Zabete.
The duo’s skill set and personal style are “yin and yang” — Swanson Beard leans toward a bohemian-meets-prep aesthetic, and Miele Beard’s look is more classic with a rock and roll edge. Their varying looks and body types have allowed them to tap into a missing link in women’s wardrobes.
They soon expanded the line with such essentials as a ruched-waist dress, a perfectly tailored scuba pant, and a lavishly feminine blouse. This season, the duo added tailored denim and boots and flats to the mix. Ranging from $150 for a removable Dickey to a couple thousand dollars for a shearling jacket, every item — no matter how large or small — has to pass muster with both of the Beards before it joins the line.
“We always say we are our customer and we design for her,” says Swanson Beard, a mother of three. “We know her body, and we know how she wants to feel about her body after having kids. We know what you want to accentuate or hide.”
Adds Miele Beard, who has five children, “We both look tall and skinny, but we have different body shapes, and I think about that in all our meetings. I’m like, ‘Is that bra-friendly?’ You’ve got to think about different body types, and that’s so important as women designers, that you can live in the clothes.”
Nestled in the tony environs of Highland Park Village, the Dallas store is dressed up with a mix of neon art, Western décor, and chintz couches.
“We found everything in Dallas except for a little bit of the artwork,” says Swanson Beard. “I came on a two-day shopping spree. It’s so fun to do it that way; it gives a history and patina to the store, and it feels familiar to people.”
Although their Dallas customer may love color and accessories a bit more than a New Yorker, the women say that the “cool, classic, and chic” philosophy behind the Veronica Beard line is universal.
“The demographic becomes very broad,” says Swanson Beard. “(Our woman) is 20 and she’s 70, and she’s a downtown rock 'n' roll girl, or she’s conservative. There are two perspectives and one vision in our brand, but it’s about this very multidimensional woman that we’re celebrating. She’s got a full plate and loves fashion and wants things that are amazing go-tos that she can throw on and feel amazing in.”
Veronica Beard is at 44 Highland Park Village; 646-233-0156. Store hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 am-6 pm and Sunday, noon-5 pm.