Veronica Beard Has Always Shared an Office with Her Sister-in-Law, Veronica Beard

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a black and white headshot of the veronica beards with their names and the date above and the office hours logo below

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In ELLE.com’s monthly series Office Hours, we ask people in powerful positions to take us through their first jobs, worst jobs, and everything in between. This month, we spoke to Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard, the sisters-in-law behind the nearly eponymous women’s brand, Veronica Beard. With respective backgrounds in finance and fashion, the two founders (who are married to brothers) chose to channel their mutual love for clothing and entrepreneurship into a business of their own. “We set out to create a uniform for a woman the way a man had a suit and tie,” Miele Beard says. In 2010, they launched with their dickey jacket, the brand’s now-signature item, and since then, they’ve expanded into a number of other categories, including handbags this February. But even as the company has exploded, their bond has stayed close. We’re family—so we’re really united in this,” Swanson Beard says. “It’s not like you can have a fight and break up. We’re married to each other, and we’re married to this business.Below, their secrets for making their partnership work.

My first job

VSB: My first job was in high school, coaching tennis at a camp. I grew up playing tennis; I still play it twice a week. I loved this summer camp, because all my friends did it too, all these cute guys I knew were there, the kids were awesome. If you do something that you love, it never feels like work, and for me, that job was really the beginning of understanding that.

VMB: I’ve worked since I was 12 at little jobs, but my first notable job was at [the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette] DLJ. I really wanted to go to Wall Street when I graduated from college, but it was ridiculously hard to get a job. I got my job at DLJ out of the newspaper, because back then we did not have LinkedIn. We didn’t even have phones, really. I walked in there, and it was daunting. It was all men, and it was strictly professional. I was scared and excited, and I was able to move out of my house and get an apartment and really be on my own.

a q and a that reads best career advice i have ever received vmb don’t build the stadium before the fans vsb decisiveness—knowing what you stand for and having a very clear vision and opinion about it people want to know with confidence and security which direction to move in my dream job i havent done yet vsb i would be an interior designer actually, i don’t really want to work for people i would just have a stable of homes that i could decorate all the time my career mantra vmb i’m going to quote danny meyer i always think about when he said in business and in life, it’s all about how you make others feel

Taylor Jewell + Design Leah Romero

The job I’d never want to do again

VSB: My first fashion job was interning at Oscar de la Renta, which was amazing. I loved it, but the receptionist at the showroom was out, so they put me at the front desk to answer the phones, and I could not figure out how to work the phones and hung up on Mr. de la Renta like four times. I think anything having to do with computers or telephones is not my wheelhouse.

On navigating male-dominated workspaces

VMB: At DLJ, there were men that worked next to me, and we were doing the same job, but they were able to advance, and I was supposed to stay as a sales assistant, because I was a girl. I went to the head of the floor, and I said, “Why am I not able to have this opportunity and these guys do?” And they said to me, “Women need MBAs here.” I was so broken and horrified. I resigned that week.

Our origin story

VSB: We met long, long, long before we became business partners. We became friends, and then sisters-in-law. I had a fashion background, Veronica had a finance background, but we had a mutual love of fashion, of product, of supply and demand, entrepreneurialism, ideas, and would talk about all of these things at every family or social gathering. There were a lot of bad ideas before the good idea. But it was always about what women really wanted and what was missing in the market. The dickey jacket existed in menswear for a long time, in terms of zip-out inserts in jackets, but it didn’t exist in women’s wear. Great brands always have their one starting item, and that was our signature piece. It still is.

VMB: We used to call it the Wonder Woman cape, because you put it on, and you slayed dragons. You felt confident. It’s something that informs everything we create: Does it have that “wow” factor?

What it’s like running a company with your sister-in-law

VMB: We’re both control freaks, and we’re very similar in certain ways and also very different. But we know our pressure points, and we know what’s important to us. So it’s like, I’m not going to die on that mountain; she lets me be me, and I let her be her. That’s most important. You also have to see the big picture; I always try to feel like it’s all going to play out. But that’s a maturity thing too.

VSB: What has never changed is that we share an office. We have always had an office with two desks in it. It’s something we don’t even think about, because it’s almost like siblings who share a bedroom.

VMB: There are a lot of big-picture items that we have to discuss, and then there’s like, “What do we say to the press? What do we say here?”

VSB: It’s like pillow talk with your husband.

a q and a that reads our go to email sign off xo our favorite work lunch spunto pizza, the really thin crust, with that salad that has kale, currants, cheese, and soy dressing our proudest moment vsb as a leader, you need to be proud on the regular, every day it’s the little things that actually make the big things work vmb gratitude for every milestone our go to power outfit blazer, jeans, and very high heels

Taylor Jewell + Design Leah Romero

The secret to staying business partners

VMB: We get over shit really fast. There are no grudges here. We’ve had fights, and we’re like, “That’s awful. You offended me.” And then it’s like, “Anyway, what are we doing now?”

VSB: That’s sisterhood. You can totally have a blowout fight, and then you’re hanging out.

Why it’s beneficial to have two Veronicas Beards

VSB: The reality is when you have a family business, it’s everything all the time. If I’m late for something—I’ve got a kid’s doctor’s appointment—I’m calling her, she’s covering the meeting. She’s got to go to a basketball tournament, I’m staying. So much of what we’re able to do is because there are two of us, and we have the same name. It doesn’t matter if I go to that event or she goes to that event—one of us showed up.

On being a working mother

VSB: I think decisiveness and compartmentalism are my superpowers. That’s fully from being a mother—knowing what I will do, what I won’t do, what I have time for, what I don’t. Having kids made us focus on our priorities. When we started this business, it was like, we have to be a good mom, get home, take care of our kids, have this business. It wasn’t like we could go to every opening of an envelope, every fashion party. There just wasn’t time for that, so it kept us very disciplined.

gwyneth paltrow and the veronica beards

Darren Gerrish//Getty Images

Veronica Swanson Beard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Veronica Miele Beard at the Goop London pop-up in October 2018.

The first time we were shocked to see someone wearing Veronica Beard

VMB: Giselle [Bündchen].

VSB: Gwyneth Paltrow for me, because it was right when she started Goop, and I was a fan. In that moment, she was that mom, on-the-go entrepreneur; she was everything. She was the multi-hyphenate dream person for us. She wore our jacket with a striped dickey and these baggy jeans, and she just looked so effortless and cool.

VMB: JLo showed up with it, Sarah Jessica Parker wore it. This was so early that we couldn’t have gotten to them; we were like, “Oh my God, they actually bought it.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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