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Veronica Jones

For Veronica Jones, fashion is a way of life. Veronica Jones was born on October 3, 1946, in Camden, New Jersey. Jones's father died when she was a baby leaving her mother to raise her. Jones went on to attend college at Kent State University and the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in New York City, with a dream of going into the fashion industry.

After graduation, Jones started out in Abraham & Straus's executive training program and from there she climbed the corporate ladder to buying positions at Gimbels in New York, and Joseph Magnin in San Francisco. She also served as a Vice President at both Gene Ewing Bis and Kenar Enterprises. Branching out on her own, she opened the Veronica Jones Showroom selling to Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms and other high end department stores and boutiques across the country. Jones founded and operates Grandview, an upscale women's clothing store in Nyack, New York. Established in 1987, Grandview helped to pioneer the revitalization of downtown Nyack's commercial strip. In 2000, Jones opened a second store in the Strivers Row District of Harlem.

Believing strongly in developing African American commerce, Jones mentors young people in the fashion industry through an organization called Fashion Outreach. She hopes to increase and improve the quality of minority representation in the fashion industry. Her expertise, knowledge, and contacts have made her sought after in both the manufacturing and sales areas of the fashion industry. She is often cited as a pioneering entrepreneur and has appeared in Black Enterprise. Jones is the recipient of many awards among them the Black Achievement Award and a leadership award from the Black Retail Action Group.

Accession Number

A2001.041

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/20/2001

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

John G. Whittier Elementary School

Cooper B. Hatch Middle School

Camden High School

Kent State University

Laboratory Institute of Merchandising

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Veronica

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

JON02

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring, Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali, Indonesia

Favorite Quote

Let’s celebrate life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/3/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Exotic Food

Short Description

Fashion retail entrepreneur Veronica Jones (1946 - ) opened the Veronica Jones Showroom selling to Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms and other high end department stores and boutiques across the country. Jones founded and operates Grandview, an upscale women's clothing store in Nyack, New York. Jones mentors young people in the fashion industry through an organization called Fashion Outreach.

Employment

Abraham & Strauss

E.J. Korvette

Gimbel's Department Store

Joseph Magnin

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Veronica Jones interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Veronica Jones details her father's origins and other family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones briefly talks about commuting between California and New York

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones recalls her mother's background and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones talks about the earliest memories of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones talks about the community of Camden, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Veronica Jones recalls her personality as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Veronica Jones remembers an influential minister

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Veronica Jones recalls her stepfather and his personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Veronica Jones shares some anecdotes from her secondary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones details her early interests in fashion design

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Veronica Jones talks about the women who influenced her as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones recalls her activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones details her favorite subjects in school and talks about her mother's style of cooking

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones recalls her experience at Kent State University in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones shares more of her experiences at Kent State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Veronica Jones talks about the development of her fashion sense

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones talks about how she chose fashion merchandising as a career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Veronica Jones recalls her education in fashion merchandising

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones describes the American fashion designers getting started in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones details her rise as a fashion buyer in New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones recalls lessons learned on the sales floor

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones details her various job changes in fashion buying

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Veronica Jones talks about her promotion at Korvette's

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Veronica Jones talks about women in the field of fashion merchandising

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones briefly talks about gender bias in merchandising and the uniqueness of the A & S department store

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Veronica Jones talks about the history of the Black Retail Action Group

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones recalls the work environment at Federated Stores

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones details why she left her job as buyer for the Abraham & Strauss department store

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones shares her experiences at E. J. Korvette department store

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones details her leap as a buyer for Joseph Magnin's fashion department store

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Veronica Jones talks about her move to California and her experiences with the Joseph Magnin store

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones talks about the demise of her former employers in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Veronica describes her next career move after returning to New York in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones recalls juggling her busy career with the illnesses of her husband and mother

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones details her activities following the deaths of her husband and mother

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones discusses her current activities

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones talks about the changes she's seen in the fashion merchandising industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Veronica Jones gives her thoughts on changes in the fashion industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Veronica Jones talks about the future of blacks in the fashion merchandising industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Veronica Jones talks about current fashion designers she admires

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Veronica Jones gives her opinion on casual dress in the workplace

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Veronica Jones discusses the African American fashion model

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Veronica Jones talks about the 'Ebony Fashion Fair' and her hopes for blacks in the industry

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Veronica Jones reflects on what her legacy may be

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Photo - Veronica Jones, Lou Perez and an unidentified woman on Lou Perez's album, 'Of Latin Extraction', 1969

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Photo - Veronica Jones models clothing in an article in 'Essence' magazine, 1971

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Photo - Fashion portrait of Veronica Jones, ca. 1969-1970

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her mother and Brenda Schofield, at a B.R.A.G. awards function, New York, New York, ca. 1983-1984

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Photo - Veronica Jones with fashion designer, Toma Holley, visiting Paris, France, ca. 1977-1978

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her fiancé at a reception for Alvin Ailey's dance company, New York, New York, 1985

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Photo - Veronica Jones receives an award from the Black Retail Action Group, New York, New York, ca. 1990

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - Veronica Jones with others at the Black Retail Action Group's awards function, New York, New York, ca. 1990

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photo - Veronica Jones models clothing, New York, New York, ca. 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo - Veronica Jones's graduation photograph from the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, New York, New York, 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her date, Alfred 'Butch' Green, at their high school prom, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, ca. 1963

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo - Veronica Jones during her visit to Paris, France, ca. 1977-1978

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her sister, Marilyn Blanchard, and friend Melanie Hunley-Ways, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1954-1956

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her childhood friends, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1953

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo - Veronica Jones as an infant, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1947

Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Photo - Second view of Veronica Jones as an infant, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1947

Tape: 7 Story: 17 - Photo - Veronica Jones as a toddler, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1948-1949

Tape: 7 Story: 18 - Photo - Veronica Jones as an infant with her parents, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1947

Tape: 7 Story: 19 - Photo - Second view of Veronica Jones as an infant with her parents, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1947

Tape: 7 Story: 20 - Photo - Veronica Jones on a tricycle with he cousin, Jackie Collins, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1948-1949

Tape: 7 Story: 21 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her friend, Melanie Hunley-Ways, in their Easter best, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1951-1952

Tape: 7 Story: 22 - Photo - Veronica Jones in front of her home in Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1957-1958

Tape: 7 Story: 23 - Photo - Veronica Jones in her Easter best in front of her home in Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1957-1958

Tape: 7 Story: 24 - Photo - Veronica Jones as a toddler, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1948

Tape: 7 Story: 25 - Photo - Veronica Jones on her tricycle, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1950

Tape: 7 Story: 26 - Photo - Veronica Jones at age two in from of her home, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1948-1949

Tape: 7 Story: 27 - Photo - Veronica Jones's first grade class picture at John G. Whittier Elementary School, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1953-1954

Tape: 7 Story: 28 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her cousin Jackie Collins, Pennsauken, New Jersey, ca. 1949-1950

Tape: 7 Story: 29 - Photo - Veronica Jones in her bathing suit on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca. 1948-1949

Tape: 7 Story: 30 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her friend Shirley after her first day of school, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1953-1954

Tape: 7 Story: 31 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her sled in Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1953-1954

Tape: 7 Story: 32 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her sister, Marilyn Blanchard-Washington on Easter Sunday, Camden, New Jersey, ca. 1956

Tape: 7 Story: 33 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her husband and wedding party, New York, New York, February, 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 34 - Photo - Veronica Jones's husband greets a new relative on his wedding day, New York, New York, February, 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 35 - Photo - Veronica Jones with her mother, Juanita Ford Jones Blanchard, New York, New York, 1980

Tape: 7 Story: 36 - Photo - Veronica Jones descending the staircase of her home on her wedding day, New York, New York, February, 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 37 - Photo - Veronica Jones with guests at her Christmas party in her apartment in Manhattan, New York, New York, December, 1984

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Veronica Jones describes the American fashion designers getting started in the 1970s
Veronica Jones recalls lessons learned on the sales floor
Transcript
I asked was it Parisian-oriented. You know, I mean--.$$(Simultaneously) Well Paris [France] was the center of fashion at that time. And, you know, there was Anne Klein--All the famous people were around then. I don't think Calvin [Klein] was. Maybe he was just beginning then with coats. I think he only did coats at that time. So there were American designers. And then there were France. But France was the center of fashion. And I became a buyer very quickly. I moved--what happened is I worked at Abraham and Strauss. Went through the executive training program--buyer, assistant buyer, all of that. But I worked for some very dynamic women who were considered tough cookies. Where most people didn't really want to work for (laughs) them. One woman--She was terrific. She brought my personality out. Her name was Anita Baseer. And I was the assistant buyer in the children's area. And she gave me a classification to buy. And in most instances when an assistant had a classification, it could be a price point in a category or something like that. But she gave me the chubby department 'cause she was the buyer for girls seven to fourteen. So chubbies was like a stepchild to her. So that became my department. So I was able to really plan a small area, you know, by classification, by price, the whole thing. The look. The concept of what I wanted it to look like. And she really guided me through that. And I still had to work as the assistant, you know, on everything else that was going on in the department. She was a character. She had a picture of Clark Gable [actor] to the left of her on the wall, life-size poster of Clark. And, you know, in this business, buyers, they have to yell and scream and argue and carry on with the manufacturer. Who's maybe not delivering merchandise on time and things like that. And I was very respectful of adults still. And, you know, how you grow up Christian. And, you know, you're very respectful in how you deal with people. So she heard me one day on the telephone. One of our manufacturers was late for ad merchandise. So I was calling to check when it was coming in. She heard me say, "Please get that merchandise in. Miss Bester's going to be so upset. You don't want to upset her. Please get the merchandise in as soon as you can." You know, but I was sort of begging them to do it. And she heard me, and she said, "Darling, it's wonderful to be nice to them. But sometimes you must yell! Let me hear you yell!" She said, "Yell Veronica." And I started yelling. She said, "That's it! That's it!" She said, "You must yell at them.," she said, " 'cause they're all not like him." And she would look at Clark and go [kissing sound]. So whenever she went out on one of these manufacturers, what brought her back to herself, and not to be an angry, miserable person was Clark Gable on the wall. But she was really an amazing character. And it's funny; I got to see her recently. Because A & S [Abraham and Strauss department store] had a reunion when they closed. They had a huge reunion. And being at A & S at that time was very important. Because it had the best training program in the country. And--so a lot of major people who moved throughout retailing, I was exposed to. I met. I formed a relationship with Mickey Drexler from the GAP [clothing retailer]. He was at A & S at one time. Michael Jeffries, he and I were on the executive training program together. He's head of Abercrombie & Fitch today. But, you know, the good 'old boy' network. They all made it. I even fought for my salary when I got out of school. Because they were paying boys, I think $10 more than girls. And I fought for my $10. Because I said, "I live alone. I've put myself through school." You know. "Why is there a difference? I really (laughs) need my money." So I got--I was able to get the same amount.$What did you learn by that trip abroad, you know, when you went? Were there things that you learned? Was it valuable lesson there that she? Or was it just you were exposed to some of the fashion houses or?$$I was exposed to--you know, the museums, you know. She [Anita Denner] gave me, you know, everywhere to go, what to visit. How those things affect fashion. How they influence fashions. And I just got to see what it was all about which is a great exposure to have. I mean most people who go into retailing, don't get that kind of exposure as an assistant buyer. But she encouraged me to do it. And--'cause I think she saw that I really enjoyed what I was doing. I was good at it. And I guess learning the knitwear; I had a good sense of color. And she liked that about me. And I just think she took a unique interest in me. And probably I was the first one that she could even get to that kind of relationship with 'cause she was totally neurotic. And I remember once, we were taking inventory. And, you know, how important inventory is. And her boss, Zack Solomon said to me, "Get her out of here! She's gonna mess up this inventory, and we gotta take inventory! Get her out of here!" But she was really a character. Knickers, they're showing them again this year. They became a hot item. And we were overbought. So basically, he would not approve orders for her to buy more knickers. But we were selling them like crazy. But she was dead in other classifications. So that meant she had no open to buy. Either she had to cancel, mark down, or do whatever. Happy Legs was a hot company then. And I lived in the city, and she told me to get a cab, and go by Happy Leggs, and pick up those knickers, and bring them into A & S [Abraham and Strauss]. And so, we were doing something a bit illegal, now. But I didn't know. I was just into going to get the knickers, coming to work in a cab. And I would take them into the receiving area. And I had a friend who was a checkpoint down there. And she would make tags for us. And I'd ticket the stuff, and bring it upstairs. And we'd put it on the floor. And we [fingers popping] kept selling like 120 a day of knickers and things like that. Business isn't like that now. It was so much fun. And A & S had done over the junior area. So it was like a big ship. And we had a jukebox. So every morning, I'd get there early. Put on my jukebox, merchandise the floor, and, you know, make sure we were ready to start the day. And one thing great about A & S is the president, the CEO; the vice president walked through that store every day and said, "Good morning." And started the company's day by doing that, floor to floor. And in each department, they knew everyone by name. One man, Ken Coker, he really influenced me. Because he always said, "Always remember something about someone. And if you do, you will remember their name." And I'm very good at knowing who people are, and knowing something about them. And people say to me, "How do you remember all that?" Now I know so many people. There were two black women in the department. One was in sales, and she was like Billie Holiday. Tall, beautiful, red lips every day. And her friend, Hattie, she was in the back. She was a stock woman. And she had a little flask that she kept with her in the back. So I would get there early and commiserate with Mary and Hattie. And Mr. Coker would come by and Hattie'd say, "Look at her. She's standing out there all prissy waiting for Mr. Coker to come by." And Mary was exactly doing that. Saying, [changing voice] "Good morning, Mr. Coker." Then Hattie's in the back. She and I working, doing our work. But Mary was always perched. And Mary taught me how to fry chicken New Orleans style. And--'cause I never knew how 'cause my mother didn't fry chicken. So she taught me how to do that. And they were really fun women to be around. So I had from my boss, to these two ladies there, who were really something. They were special people.