Welcome to The Balance Project: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire do “it all.” So I asked them. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Veronica Beard had to say…
No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
Age: 41 (yikes!) Where has the time gone?
Where I live: West Village, NYC
Job: Fashion Designer/Co-Owner, Veronica Beard
Ages/genders of kids: Helaina (11), Scarlett (10), Anson Jr. (8), India (6), Matthew Rhett (3)
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
I began my career on Wall Street in 1995 and got the interview from an ad in the New York Times. I worked at DLJ in sales, short stint at Vogue in ad sales, then back to Wall St: Furman Selz (Sales Trader), Lehman Brothers (Inst’l Sales), Coatue ’99-’06 (COO of technology hedge fund). I left Wall Street after having my third baby and I took a much-needed break to be with the three kids who were three years and under! While being home with then four babies, I would constantly brainstorm ideas with my sister-in-law (also named Veronica Beard), for fashion missing from the market. In 2009, we launched Veronica Beard with the concept of “the uniform” for women who “do it all.” Our first piece of the uniform was the iconic “jacket” with interchangeable dickeys. It is the ultimate “Superwoman cape” for your wardrobe. Veronica Beard is very market driven as we think of the woman we are designing for and the demands of her life and try to design pieces that we want to wear (sometimes with a twist).
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
You can’t “have it all” all at once. I feel extremely fulfilled some days and like a complete failure on others. My mother is my saving grace as she can help with the kids and when they are with her, it’s the only time I feel really relaxed in doing something else. Otherwise, I’m constantly worried about something. If I’m home too much, I worry about the business. Having a partner in business with the same name helps immensely. We cover for each other and are 50/50 so we can be in two places at once.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I go back and forth from running to work to get out of the house and feel like a whole person again to feeling extremely guilty for not being a “stay at home” mother. Sometimes, I will have had an amazing day with the kids and with work and then my husband is glaring at me for being so pre-occupied and not spending enough time with him.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
It truly is a balancing act, but I sort of love it. I thrive in chaos and when I compare it to my days of being a slave to the stock market, I sort of feel free because every day is different now. I view all aspects of my life like trades on a trade blotter. Once I’ve crossed them all out, I can go to sleep. Oh no, did I feed the animals? Oh yes, now I can go to sleep. I’m so much better at appreciating the little things like when all the kids are healthy or if we’ve sold out of a certain piece of clothing that we took a major bet on. Supply/demand has always been my ying/yang no matter what the concept. If I get a good parking spot in NYC, I’ve won!
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? From the portfolio manager I worked for at the hedge fund to our current investors in fashion, “stick to your knitting” is the key to success. No need to spread yourself too thin too early. Stick to what you are good at.
From your mother? “The biggest judgment in life is what kind of mother you are and how your kids turn out.” Yikes, no pressure, Mom!
From your kids? The most important time of day is dinner time. If I’m at that dinner table and I’m “present,” it’s everything to them.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Riding or being around horses. It’s almost like meditation for me.
What would you have told yourself…
20 years ago? Don’t wait to do anything. It’s never a good time so just do it!
20 years from now? Appreciate your health and youth.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Organizing. Only I can do it because then I know every aspect of my home and family.
Whose job do you wish you had?
Although I love my job, another part of me would be a doctor, helping and curing. I’m in awe of Dr. Kathryn Beal, a radiation oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
God bless anyone who works with me who has to deal with me.
The Great Gatsby.
What are you reading right now?
The Wolf of Wall Street.
Activity? Riding horses.
Food? Pizza from Spunto or pasta from Babbo.
Website? Yahoo Finance & Net-A-Porter.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
What do you read every morning?
I listen to 1010 WINS radio in the morning while driving kids to school.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: try my best.
I wish I: didn’t worry about what people think.
My kids: are the best thing that ever happened to me.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Life is short, take a risk!
Please share your own tips on balance below and check back every Friday for another interview from The Balance Project. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…