Patricia Brett

 

TBF Entrepreneurs

 

Patricia Brett

Founder, Veronica Brett

 

MY BACKGROUND…

In January 2003 I had a double mastectomy. Even with my breast reconstruction, I couldn’t wear the average swimsuit or bra anymore. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and she couldn’t have reconstruction. There really wasn’t a fashion brand out there for women like us that was sexy and fun. Post-surgery swimsuits were considered medical apparel — matronly and conservative. I was an architect for 20 years and I thought to myself, “If I can design a building, surely I can design a better swimsuit.

 

MY FIRST DESIGN…

I made the first swimsuit myself after buying a few suits and patterns, modifying the design and sewing the pieces. It barely held together because stretch fabric is hard to sew. I hadn’t told my sister what I was doing and when she came to visit I just asked her to try it on. She twirled around the room and declared, “This is the sexiest thing I’ve worn in 10 years.” When I saw that reaction from her I knew I was onto something.

 

MY VISION FOR VERONICA BRETT…

I wanted to create a beautiful, sophisticated swimsuit that would solve problems for a woman who had a mastectomy but would also be sexy and great-fitting for any woman. I launched Veronica Brett in 2010 with an event at Elie Tahari and my swimsuits are now sold at Shopbop and Kimara Ahnert. The best part is that they’re not being marketed to breast cancer survivors. They are selling because they are really beautiful. I’ve taken the stigma away from shopping for a swimsuit.

 

THE KEY TO NETWORKING…

Trial and error. I talked with different patternmakers and factories before I found the right team. I went to cocktail parties in the fashion and garment worlds and met one person who sold fabric, who introduced me to a patternmaker, who introduced me to someone else…. With each step I had to
network and figure out whom I needed to meet to teach me the next step. Now I have a good core — a factory, sample room, fit model and amazing Italian swim fabric.

 

LESSONS I’VE LEARNED…

Trust my gut. I had a small batch of swimsuits made in a New Jersey factory and I had a feeling they weren’t listening to me. Sure enough, I ended up with
a box of swimsuits I couldn’t sell. This experience taught me that I need to trust my intuition — if I feel like something isn’t being done right, I need to speak up.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE…

There is a quote from Jackie Kennedy that goes, “If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.” I believe that. My son has only one childhood and my job above all else is to be a great mom. No matter how hard I work, I need to have a happy, healthy, well-balanced child who has time with me on a daily basis. Too many businesses make it difficult to be a parent and have a career. I want Veronica Brett to be a place where people can thrive at work and excel at being parents. Flex-time, on-site childcare, an after-school program with homework help, a nursing room — I would like all of these things as I grow my business.