Empowered Women Empower: Meet Veronica Speck & VHS Ventures
In this edition of Empowered Women Empower, join us for a peek inside the inspiring world of Veronica H. Speck, founder of VHS Ventures, a global communications consultancy. Dedicated to the needs of its international luxury and lifestyle industry clients, VHS Ventures provides strategic advisory services, affinity partnerships, branding, business development, public relations, and special events.
Originally from San Diego, CA, Veronica Speck began her career in New York City at publishing houses including Condé Nast and Hearst. After honing her skills with Christie’s, Vogue, The Whitney Museum, and The Met, in 2020 Veronica established VHS Ventures. Located in New York and California with international operations in Asia, Europe, and South America, today her clients range from Ferrari and Fine Art to Fragrance and Fine Jewelry. In addition, VHS is a founding partner of luxury fragrance brand Maison d’Etto. And a member of the Female Design Council. Read on and be inspired by Veronica Speck!
Be Empowered by Veronica Speck, Founder of VHS Ventures
Love Happens: As our name, and the tagline of our published KOKET, denotes we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your passion for communications begin? And how did it make you feel?
Veronica Speck: I couldn’t agree more. My original love is for art and history, which began with an AP course in high school. And then a ‘grand tour’ of the European capitals with my grandmother. This was solidified during graduate school in New York City when I had the opportunity to work at Christie’s auction house during the fall season. And Vogue magazine in the spring assisting with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala.
I combined the two with my first roles in PR, Marketing, Special Events, and Strategic Partnerships at The Whitney Museum, amfAR, and Bernardaud where I promoted partnerships between contemporary artists like Jeff Koons and the 19th-century porcelain maison from Limoges. Essentially, communications comes down to storytelling and I love to creatively tell stories and establish a brand’s ethos.
Lh: Since the beginning of your career your focus has been on the luxury, lifestyle and creative sectors, what sparked this direction? And what led up to your decision to pursue the publishing industry for your first job?
Veronica: I am an absolute aesthete and have always been attracted to art history, design, fashion, jewelry, photography, and other cultures. I grew up reading classic literature and watching classic films. This instilled an admiration and affinity for creative pursuits, but from an amateur perspective. It seems so ancient now in our digital age, but I remember a salesperson coming to the door in San Diego when I was a teenager selling magazine subscriptions. My father kindly succumbed when I asked for Vogue and I have been devouring it ever since.
I knew I wanted to move to New York City, the epicenter of media, from a very young age. Originally, my plan was to be a writer, editor, or creative director. I studied Journalism and took screenwriting and photography courses in college. And when I landed my dream internship at Vogue at age 19, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
It was through Vogue that I came to know the team at The Met. And fell even more in love with the art world. During graduate school, I interned at Christie’s auction house. My first role there was at The Whitney Museum in development, communications, and events. Even though I do not work directly in the publishing industry, most of my close personal and professional colleagues and friends are writers and editors at Condé Nast and Hearst, and I interact with them constantly. Today, I ensure my clients and partners are comprised of an even mix of my creative interests in art, design, fashion, jewelry, hotels, restaurants, food, wine, etc.
Lh: Tell us about your decision to start VHS Ventures in 2020? How has your first year been? Mid-pandemic and all!
Veronica: Prior to the pandemic, I was the Head of Communications and Marketing for Michelin-Starred Chef Daniel Boulud and his global hospitality group. When the restaurants and hotel properties closed during Covid-19, I decided it was time to diversify. And with DB’s blessing, I began my own consultancy agency, VHS Ventures, with him as my first client. The PR agency I had hired to manage his communications also represented Ferrari. They released their new Roma model over the summer so they became my second. Before I knew it, I had 10 clients and growing ranging from fine art galleries and interior design studios to luxury fragrance and high jewelry brands to wineries and vineyards to beauty, wellness, and tech companies. I am in the process of expanding into luxury hospitality and travel next. Eventually, I would love to operate or invest in hotels, restaurants, and vineyards.
Lh: What is your favorite part of your job?
Veronica Speck: My clients! They have become more than business partners, and truly intimate friends. I have the freedom, luxury, and ability to carefully select who I work with and the projects I take on. I am personally invested in each and every one, and I want them to succeed professionally and financially. Currently, I am representing interior designers, art galleries, jewelry designers, fragrance brands, and more. I am curious by nature so it has been very rewarding to learn what inspires each of my designers and artists and to work with such a diverse portfolio of talent.
Lh: Is there one project that stands out to you as your biggest accomplishment to date? Or just your favorite! Tell us about it and why it stands out to you.
Veronica: Fortunately, I have been blessed with many favorite moments! Especially those that contribute to the greater good. I.e. producing the Whitney Museum Galas to raise funds for the museum or amfAR Galas, especially Cannes, benefiting aids research. Or more recently the annual City Meals on Wheels gala at Restaurant Daniel with Chef Daniel Boulud supporting aging and less fortunate New Yorkers.
Some other fun career moments include the Jeff Koons x Bernardaud collaboration and the launch event with Bloomberg. I arranged for Jeff to host an event at the boutique and sign the limited-edition porcelain Balloon Dog. He was kind enough to draw me a tulip sketch, which I have displayed at home!
The black-tie opening of Casa Perfect gallery by The Future Perfect was also quite exciting. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Elle Décor, and Architectural Digest were clamoring for the exclusive and Martha Stewart showed up unexpectedly. I also partnered with Ruinart, my favorite champagne Maison, to pour the libations, and arranged for some dear friends (and founders of the famous Los Tacos No. 1) to serve their delicious Tijuana-style street tacos to celebrity and VIP guests in ballgowns. A true high/low moment and an incredible evening!
Lh: You also have a fabulous looking luxury fragrance brand! What led to your decision to start Maison d’Etto?
Veronica Speck: Why, thank you! I can’t take credit for starting the brand—that is all Brianna Lipovsky. However, I am a Founding Partner. I met Brianna through Olivia Song, an incredible interior designer, while I was working with a contemporary design gallery called The Future Perfect. I fell in love with her and the brand within minutes of meeting! She is an equestrian and aspiring dressage rider, and the first collection was inspired by horses and the journeys they have taken her on, including my favorite fragrance Noisette, which is inspired by the scent of lavender fields in the hills of the Pyrenees in France.
We work with some of the best perfumers in the business, including Carlos Benaïm, who is considered one of the greatest living noses. He is the author of Polo Ralph Lauren perfume and many other classics. Scent memory in a Proustian sense fascinates me and launching a brand is an incredible experience. We are sold in Bergdorf Goodman and The Conservatory and we are in talks with Harrods and international retailers as well.
We also just launched a limited-edition collection of silk scarves, which were created in collaboration with one of the oldest textile mills in France. The first collection has been very well received, we have been recognized in The New York Times, Vogue, Forbes, Robb Report, and more which has been incredibly fulfilling. We have some exciting launches in the works, stay tuned for the next collection!
Lh: What three pieces of advice would you give to someone aspiring to succeed in the world of communications?
- Read and consume everything! Classic literature, contemporary novels, and the daily news.
- Be creative. There are so many ways to tell a story and dozens of outlets around the world interested in communicating that information to their readers. Do your research!
- Stay curious. Take a psychology course if possible. The beginning of communications and branding comes with understanding and intuition. Deeply understanding an individual and their background and influences in order to accurately tell their story properly. I ask every new client to answer the Proust Questionnaire to start. (We love the Proust Questionnaire–check out The Lh Design Questionnaire series if you do too!)
- This is #4, but adaptiveness. The media landscape has changed rapidly with the inventions of new mediums including social media. Continue learning and improving. Heraclitus’ philosophy holds true “the only constant is change.”
In the words of the Bard, To Thine Own Self Be True.
Lh: Is there one piece of “free advice” you would like to offer to luxury creatives looking to promote their businesses in today’s world?
Veronica: In the words of the Bard, To Thine Own Self Be True. Consumers are intelligent. I don’t think traditional advertising, paid marketing or even influencers are successful in today’s market. Authenticity and deeply understanding a brand’s ethos and ideal consumer, and communicating that message in an organic and natural way is relevant and necessary.
Lh: What’s next for Veronica Speck?
Veronica: Great question! I used to be a planner, but now I am a bit more spontaneous so only time will tell. I am currently on my way to Miami for the World Polo League’s Miami Beach Polo Tournament. Maison d’ Etto is a sponsor and I am hosting a table with the publisher and team from Forbes Brazil. While I am in town, I am also planning to check on Boulud Sud and Café Boulud. And say hello to the team at the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach.
As far as future plans (pending Covid-19), I aim to spend the summer in Europe meeting with clients, including a Spanish and Italian gallery, and focusing on business development. The Salone del Mobile is set for September in Milano so I hope to end the summer in Italy. After the fair, my business partners and I would like to visit Lago di Como, Lugano, and Maggiore and help scope out wedding venues for one of our co-founders. I can already taste the aperol spritz on the dock of Villa d’ Este at sunset!
Learn more about Veronica Speck and VHS Ventures!
By Anna Beck