It's All Relative



For many people, spending an entire day with a sister-in-law might be considered a curse rather than a blessing. But for two very stylish ladies, being connected by marriage (they said “I do” to two brothers) is just the beginning of a great partnership — they’re also fused by fashion.

New York-based Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard are the brains behind the Veronica Beard clothing line. Launched in 2010, Veronica Beard bears a very concise concept: start with the basics. The first of the fashion basics — otherwise known as “the uniform” — is the designing duo’s most recognizable piece, the jacket. Other statement pieces such as the swing dress and birdseye trouser have followed, but the distinctive Veronica Beard brand always reflects high design combined with great value.

As the “Veronicas” say, “If it’s simple and classic, you can wear it forever.”

Veronica Miele Beard & Veronica Swanson Beard

435 South magazine caught up with Veronica and Veronica as they were making final preparations for their October 18th trunk show at Halls in Kansas City. On our minds: to find out what makes this dynamic runway sensation a standing-ovation success.

435 South: The two of you are sisters-in-law, and you have a twin passion for fashion. Tell us a little about your brand’s genesis.
Veronica Swanson Beard: We met in 2002 and married brothers. After the two of us had our children, we had lots of ideas going back and forth about starting a business, brainstorming about what kind of a fashion line we wanted, but kept going back to this concept of “the uniform.” Veronica Miele has a background with finance, so that’s her strong area of the business. But we both have design sensibilities.

435: Usually family members and business go together like oil and water. How does building a brand and being related work for the two of you?
VSB:
We’re a unique situation because we’re family, we’re women and business partners. It’s rare. But we understand each other’s lives. We have personal strengths and limitations.
Veronica Miele Beard: I think it helps that we aren’t blood-related; we’re not kin. Also, we work so hard to separate family from business. We don’t bring family stuff to work.

435: The two of you are on the cutting edge of fashion by reinventing classic pieces for today’s woman. What Veronica Beard piece will Kansas City women need to be sure they have hanging in their closets for fall?
VMB:
We have this amazing long sleeve dress with a leopard swirl print. It’s incredibly flattering. The print is phenomenal, and it really pops.
VSB: Also, if you can’t have anything else, get the jacket. It’s so versatile, you will have it forever.

435: In addition to being fashion designers, you are both moms with seven kids between the two of you. What tips do you have for busy Kansas City moms thinking of going into business for themselves?
VSB:
You have to just start. We always say, it’s all in starting. As soon as you start the process, the fear and intimidation will start to go away.
VMB: DO IT! But you must have an edge or something innovative and unique. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful. We saw a hole in the market with the jacket and have built our brand around that concept. That sets us apart.

435: What is one piece of advice you’re glad you never took?
VSB:
Never to go into business with family.
VMB: I’m glad I never wore flats. I hiked Machu Picchu in my sneaker wedges.

435: Veronica Swanson Beard, is it true you are related to Carol Swanson Price, a Kansas City resident who was married to Charles Price, the U.S. Ambassador?
VSB:
Yes! She is my father’s sister and godmother. My uncle Charlie was a really incredible man, and he passed away last year. He was very well-connected in Kansas City and the whole family is terrific. I’m excited to come to Kansas City in October to see the city he was so familiar with and loved.

435: Do you always love the fashions you produce? Do you ever have a piece you wish you would have perhaps held back?
VSB:
Our tagline has become “we are our customer.” As women designers, we don’t release something if we don’t absolutely love it. Male designers are creating the fashion fantasy, because they don’t walk in our shoes. We produce reality. We don’t have perfect bodies and we want to design pieces that flatter and make us feel good.

435: There’s a misconception that gorgeous women who have started businesses as successful as yours are perfect.  Make us feel better — tell us one thing that makes you just like us.
VMB:
We move really fast, and we almost don’t have a chance to catch up with what is going on in our company. We get ahead of ourselves. Sometimes we need to step back and say let’s live in that moment and be appreciative.

To check out the Veronica Beard line, visit Halls at the Country Club Plaza or online at halls.com.