Fourteen years ago, sisters-in-law Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard set the foundation of a successful fashion business by launching a layered-look blazer dubbed the Dickey Jacket.
“We ultimately wanted to create a [women’s] uniform,” Swanson Beard said on the latest Glossy Podcast. “We started with the jacket by making a run of them that we sampled using remnant fabric from Mood Fabrics. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and it was great.”
Influenced by the stock market crash the year before the brand’s launch, Swanson Beard and Miele Beard opted to focus on a contemporary price point, yet maintain designer-level fabrics and quality, Miele said.
Today, the company has 300 employees, is profitable and is projected to do $250 million in sales this year. And it’s decidedly in growth mode.
After recently launching footwear, Swanson Beard and Miele Beard said they’re now eying categories including accessories, menswear and kidswear. Plus, they want to further expand globally. Veronica Beard recently opened a store in Canada, and it opened a location in London last year.
“We like success, but we want to do it right,” Swanson Beard said.
Below are additional highlights of the podcast, lightly edited for clarity.
Turning blazer shoppers into lifelong customers
Miele Beard: “[Blazers and jackets] are still 40% of our business. … They’re sort of the gateway. So we think about, ‘How are we going to get her to return?’ People don’t come back as shoppers if things don’t fit, and that’s why we are maniacal about fit. … With the jacket, it has to fit like a designer jacket. We call it the Wonder Woman cape, because you put it on, and you feel like you can conquer. And that really happens because it fits you. We offer sizes 00-24, so that, … if she can fit in that jacket, maybe she’ll try the jeans, or she’ll try a blouse or a dress. With our jeans, we really studied pocket placement on the butt; [styles] where the pockets were placed properly were missing from the market. And we think about details, like, ‘Why are we ruching?’ It’s because, then, you can wear a form-fitted dress without showing every curve or every bump. We also think about: Who’s wearing this? And, how many women can wear this and feel confident and great? And if she’s going to work, is it appropriate? Is it something she could wear to the beach, too? We think about so many things that a traditional designer may not think about.”
The value of stores
Swanson Beard: “We have 24 stores right now, and we are opening a few more in the second half of the year. We really have invested in brick-and-mortar, because it’s where the brand truly comes to life. And, for our customer to understand the full offering of this lifestyle wardrobe that we are designing, it’s most impactful in our own stores. Each store is very individual — all the interiors and all the furnishings are found, and everything is very specific to that market and that customer. And that makes it really fun and interesting for us and also for our customer. Our customer travels all over this country and all over the world. So when she goes to the Madison [Avenue] store, and then she’s in Pacific Palisades, and then she’s in Houston, it all feels like Veronica Beard, but it feels different. … And our stores are our greatest labs. That is where we can test product, and where our community is constantly coming together and gathering. It’s where we do all of our VBGB — Veronica Beard Gives Back — [events] and all of our shop-for-our-causes [events]. All of our stores truly are these Veronica Beard community centers that have just brought us so much loyalty and goodwill.”
The “secret sauce” of knowing the customer
Swanson Beard: “What’s really lucky for us is that, because we offer this lifestyle uniform for women, we are able to sort of flex on whatever end we need. Like, during Covid, all of a sudden, we started really doubling down on off-duty [styles]. So it was very casual. We’ve made sweats, but we don’t sell sweats. Our customer does not want to buy sweats from us. She gets dressed; even if she is staying at home, she wants to be in a cool jean or a cargo pant. So we were able to design into that and fulfill her needs there. And because we had the denim business, which is jeans and T-shirts and more casual bottoms and dresses, we could really lay into that. And then, once it was suddenly booming events season, we were prepared for that. We know our customer so well, it was like we knew the timing of what they were going to need — because we are our customer. And that’s truly been our secret sauce: that we understand what she wants.
Miele Beard: “And we’re able to take a qualified risk and say, ‘One day, she’s going to go back to the office.’ ‘One day, she’s going to go to parties again.’ … She came back with a vengeance, and we knew that — because we were champing at the bit ourselves.”