We had the good fortune of connecting with Veronica H. Speck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Veronica H., what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I would say I have the spirit of an entrepreneur, but I am perhaps a touch more risk-averse. After 10 years working for other established brands and corporations, I finally took the plunge to begin my own business this past year.
My late grandfather was the cornerstone of our family, and always instilled an adventurous and optimistic perspective. He was a European engineer and began a successful global packaging business in the U.S. from the ground-up, quite literally, from his garage in Los Angeles, California. Inevitably, I grew up surrounded by the family business, but I had little interest in machinery or packaging in my high school years! At age 17, I left for New York City to complete my undergraduate and graduate degree, originally studying Journalism, and interning for news networks including CNN and NBC as well as on the Editorial side of fashion at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. During graduate school, I transferred to the business side working in strategic partnerships at Christie’s during auction season as well as fundraising in the special events department of Vogue, especially for the Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I continued fundraising and working in tandem with the Communication and Development departments of non-profits including The Whitney Museum and amfAR.
My first foray into press and marketing was at Bernardaud, a renowned French porcelain company established in Limoges in 1863. I happened to be in Paris when the opportunity presented itself, and interviewed (in my limited French at the time) with the CEO and was hired at age 24 to head Public Relations and Marketing. Looking back, it was a bit of a trial by fire, but an incredible experience—especially as it combined some of my favorite things— cuisine, wine, art, and design. I spearheaded relationships and limited-edition collaborations with contemporary artists ranging from Jeff Koons and Vik Muniz to the Calder and Chagall Foundations. I also established custom collections with hoteliers and Michelin-starred Chefs from Francis Mallmann to Daniel Boulud.
When the timing and stars finally aligned in late 2019, I was hired by Chef Daniel to join his Executive Team and oversee global marketing and communications for his ever-expanding hospitality group. With his blessing, I began my venture last year with clients ranging from Ferrari and Fine Art to Fragrance and Fine Jewelry.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My grandfather’s motto was “work hard, pray hard, save hard.” Mine would probably be something closer to the Latin proverb, “fortune favors the bold” or even Richard Branson’s sage advice “if somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” Curiosity might have killed the cat, but I have found it to be my defining feature and one that I bring to my business and my clients. I am deeply curious about the individuals and brands I work with- especially their origin story and inspiration, which I then relay to the press as part of their strategic branding and messaging. The most important step in successfully publicizing, marketing, and therefore selling something is deeply understanding who the ideal customer is- including their shopping and lifestyle habits.
I began my career as a writer and editor, which later became quite beneficial on the business, communications, and marketing side. I have worked both in-house and as part of an agency; at non-profit museums and for-profit galleries; for smaller and for larger brands and institutions; domestically and internationally. I have worked within the worlds of art, architecture, design, luxury, hospitality, beauty, technology, and wine in varying degrees from producing events to strategic partnerships to public relations. All of these combined experiences and relationships have informed my career and business ventures. I am able to offer bespoke and tailored services up to a full-scale partnership, including advertising, advisory and consulting services, branding, business development, celebrity and VIP relations, event production, press and media placements, sales, strategy, and the list goes on! Having a pulse on emerging global trends and markets is also extremely beneficial, as is having partners and colleagues around the world in order to offer a holistic, international perspective.
I am very proud of the brands and partners I have chosen to work with, especially those that give back to their communities or charitable institutions. Early in my career, each gala I helped produce contributed to the arts or research in some way– from the annual Whitney Museum Galas and Costume Institute Gala benefiting the arts to the amfAR Galas during the Cannes Film Festival benefiting AIDS research to Chef Daniel Boulud’s Sunday Supper benefiting City Meals on Wheels, which provides meals and supports homebound elderly New Yorkers. Recently, on a smaller scale, I have hosted events benefiting artisans including traditional Oaxacan ceramicists through the Huajes Valley and the nonprofit organization Innovando la Tradicion. Another client, Lél Studio, creates incredible pietra dura works of art made by (and benefitting) local Peshawar craftsmen and refugee artisans displaced by the Afghan conflict in neighboring Pakistan. I also tend to work with luxury brands and artisanal companies that are sustainable, handmade, and environmentally conscious, from family-owned winemakers to fine jewelers that work with ethically sourced stones to architecture firms. For instance, architect Brandon Haw’s Hearst Tower was the first occupied “green” commercial building in New York City to receive a LEED Gold Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. He continues to create incredible architecture that is rooted firmly in the optimization of systems for social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love this question! There is nothing I enjoy more than offering travel advice. In fact, an interior designer and dear friend recently visited Rio de Janeiro for the first time and loved my guide so much he told me I should charge! I decided to start an editorial section on my website, L’Avventura Journal, in order to interview clients and partners including Architects, Artists, Chefs, Designers, Models, and Founders, and to feature City Guides.
I am a bit bi-coastal at the moment, splitting my time between California and New York. I am lucky enough to have my best friend (shoutout to Lilah Ramzi) currently staying with me in Nolita in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. She is a New Yorker through and through, but I have certainly shared my local spots with her! Here is an itinerary for a typical Sunday…
I live on the corner of Prince and Elizabeth, in a perfumer’s paradise. I am quite literally surrounded by fragrance shops—Le Labo, Atelier Cologne, Aesop, Diptyque, and Cire Trudon have all found their home on either side of my apartment building. As fate would have it, I am now a Partner of Maison d’ Etto, a luxury fragrance and accessories brand. Perhaps (fingers crossed) they will find a place on the block someday as well! I also live in the self-proclaimed Little France (not to be confused with Little Italy) neighborhood of New York. If I am missing Le Marais, I pop across the street to any one of the French outposts of contemporary boutiques including Sezane, Ba&sh, Maje, Sandro, Maison Kitsune, or Vuarnet—all located a few blocks away from the established luxury brands: Chanel, Saint Laurent, Dior, etc.
In the morning, you can find me reading the Financial Times weekend edition over a cafecito at Café Habana (there is also a location in the Malibu Country Mart) or over a cappuccino and cornetto at the bar of Sant Ambroeus (wishing I was at the original in Milano’s Montenapoleone). At noon, a yoga class is offered in the charming Elizabeth Street Garden with a large-scale painting of a ballerina covering the side of an opposing brick wall by French artist JR (whose studio is across the street) as a backdrop. In the afternoon, I walk across the street to the Bowery to take in the latest exhibition at the New Museum. Ruinart champagne is an art partner and hosts many events on the lovely rooftop with 360-degree views reaching from the Empire State Building to the Freedom Tower. For dinner, I will round up as many friends as possible and support Chefs by visiting one of the many local and excellent restaurants—from Italian at Estela, Il Buco or Peasant, to Indonesian at Wayan, to Thai at Lovely Day or Uncle Boon’s Sister, to French at Raoul’s, Little Prince or La Mercerie. Finally, the perfect end to the week (and to Sunday night) includes sipping a negroni and listening to live music at Epistrophy or Altro Paradiso. If you happen to find yourself in Soho or Nolita on a Tuesday evening with Spanish friends– visit Tomiño or Socarrat on Mulberry Street) for tapas and their weekly Flamenco show, and reminisce about sunny Seville…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Goodness—there are so many! No man is an island, and I am eternally grateful to my grandmother, parents, brother, friends, and my current clients for their endless support, faith, and trust.
My grandmother, Helen, in particular, instilled her independence and love of travel and the arts in me from a young age. She took me on a “grand tour” during the summer between high school and college. We spent six wonderful weeks visiting European capitals whilst she relayed anecdotes about her childhood in Holland (the Netherlands) as we visited family throughout England, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We visited more museums than I can count, ranging from the Naturhistorisches Museum with the paleolithic Venus of Willendorf in Vienna to contemporary works at the Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. She remains my favorite travel partner, sounding board, and supporter. Our next trip is to the Panama Canal!
One mentor I had the pleasure of working with and have always admired is Lydia Fenet, Global Managing Director and Lead Auctioneer at Christie’s Auction House, and now a best-selling author.
Instagram: @veronicahelenspeck and @vhs.ventures