Lots of pink is the theme for October, when so many brands offer their products in the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month shade to raise money and awareness for the cause. ‘It’s the season to buy gifts that return in December, when it’s common for retailers to partner with a nonprofit for the holidays. But for some brands, social responsibility isn’t something that happens for a few weeks – they give back all year, every single day. And Veronica Beard is one of them, thanks to their Veronica Beard Gives Back (VBGB) program. “This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done and the most important,” says Veronica Miele Beard, co-founder of Veronica Beard. “It has brought a whole world of goodness, community and goodwill. It changed my whole vision of what Veronica Beard is and what companies are.
Born from an idea of Veronica Beard co-founders Veronica Swanson Beard and Miele Beard, and Allison Aston, SVP of partnerships, events and charitable donations to Veronica Beard, VBGB is embedded in the brand’s DNA. As part of their philanthropic initiative, each quarter they recognize a woman who is working to make a difference and highlight her cause to bring awareness. Since 2015, a portion of every single online sale has been donated to a cause. Additionally, they volunteer as a business, both at headquarters and in stores nationwide, to support their chosen cause. There’s also #VBGIVESBACKDAY, a quarterly event across all of their retail stores at the end of each partnership, when 10% of total in-store sales for the day go to the cause. Ahead of the event, the day is heavily promoted on social media, with local influencers encouraging their followers to shop for a cause.
Launched six years ago, VBGB has partnered with hundreds of nonprofits. “The Veronica came to me and said we had to do more with this business,” Aston recalls. “We have been given so much; how do we pay it forward? It was then that it all began. It was about defending a woman that the Veronica family admire and giving back to their charity “.
VBGB initially started with a monthly partner, but in 2020 it switched to a quarterly format to offer more time and focus on each cause. They also host one-off events in their 18 outlets. “It’s about joining our local community and finding what is important to our customers and being able to partner with something they are passionate about,” says Aston. “It’s built around the women who support us and, in turn, the Veronica really felt strongly able to give back locally and through this broader online program.”
The combination of digital and brick and mortar is the key to VBGB, especially having a persona element to bring the experience to life. “So much of our brand is about personal connection,” says Swanson Beard. “That community building in person is how we started – it was all about trunk shows and us on the road, building this in a very popular way. As big as our company has become, it still looks very small. . For us it’s really magical and something we protect. Real magic happens in person. Shopping for a cause is the real heartbeat of this whole thing. “
From Feeding America to Every Mother Counts, Us Against Alzheimer’s, Cookies for Kid’s Cancer, and Lower Eastside Girls Club, they have worked with an extraordinarily wide variety of nonprofits. The Veronica’s claim they all have one thing in common: an extraordinary multifaceted woman who drives energy and passion into the cause. Each charitable partner is chosen with the utmost care. They consider why the cause is so important and why they want to support it and whether it has a personal connection to the brand and employees. They must all be significant causes for women. As for the brand ambassador, they review her personal journey and experience with the organization.
The choice of ambassador each quarter receives the same consideration as the charity. “Finding out who that ambassador will be is really important,” says Aston. “The Veronica made it clear from the start. They don’t want the poster baby; they want the woman who is truly involved. It can’t just be a celebrity name, it has to be someone who is genuine. All of these women are really important to the organization and are part of the infrastructure in each of these places. “
Even during the COVID-19 spike, VBGB never took a break. “In COVID, it became clearer to us which organizations we could really help,” says Swanson Beard. “We knew we could make a big difference in that quarter. While the company actually struggled, as all companies did during that time, the donation we returned made a huge impact. “
Veronica Beard’s latest beneficiary for this quarter is the American Heart Association (AHA). They initially partnered with the Oregon Heart Association locally. As their connection grew, they learned more about the cause and its importance. “Heart disease kills more women than anything else out there,” says Aston. “The staggering numbers of how heart disease affects women have made it a breeze.” In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, causing more deaths among women than all forms of cancer combined.
After six months of planning, the program is in full swing through March, with Susan Lucci as ambassador, who has been deeply involved with the AHA for many years. As a survivor of heart disease, Lucci had a 90% block which required two stents. “Listen to your body and put yourself at the top of your to-do list, because losing even one woman to heart disease is not an option,” says Lucci.
Many events with the AHA are scheduled throughout the quarter, including National Wear Red Day on February 4thth, one of their highlights of the year. As with all of their collaborations, their goal is to spread the word. “With heart disease, you immediately think about men,” Swanson Beard says. “Any opportunity to bring awareness to this is so important. Our customer base is very loyal and tuned; they listen and learn. They teach us and we teach them ”.
No matter how big the brand gets, the Veronica’s aim to never change their values or spirit. Spreading their success and seeing women bring their clothes to life is their favorite part of their job. Being able to give back and put the spotlight on women who support important causes is a cornerstone of Veronica Beard and they passionately feel that all companies should have the same social conscience and sense of responsibility. “For Veronica Beard, it’s not just about fashion,” says Swanson Beard. “We want you to wear our clothes, but we want you to do all the amazing things you do with our clothes. This is really what Veronica Beard Gives Back is about: educating, feeling good, and doing good. Look good, feel good, do good “.