Every month, Madison Reed spotlights phenomenal women who are making a positive impact on the world. Let’s celebrate their accomplishments and the possibility for all of us to make a difference!
Get to know Kendra Scott, founder of a global jewelry and fashion brand. From building up a renowned corporation, to setting high standards for supporting family and philanthropy, Kendra shares inspiring lessons on her road to success.
What inspired you to create a jewelry and fashion brand?
From the moment I could stand up to fit my feet into my mother’s high heeled shoes, I have been in love with fashion. My Aunt Jo played a huge part in sparking my interest in the fashion industry and my goal to become an entrepreneur. A beautiful and driven buyer for a major department store, my aunt’s strong, spunky attitude and incredible career made me quickly realize my desire to follow in her footsteps and tackle the world of fashion on my own. My passion for jewelry design became an outlet to turn that dream into a reality.
Did you pursue other artistic or creative fields before jewelry?
My first entry into the fashion industry was when I opened The Hat Box in Austin, a hat boutique whose proceeds benefitted cancer research. But when life took my career elsewhere as an advertising representative, creating jewelry became my fun escape. As my interest for the hobby grew, I started taking classes on jewelry design and teaching myself how to create jewelry by breaking apart vintage pieces and re-creating new jewels from the materials. When the time was right, I used my passion as a foundation to start a business of my own.
We heard that you started this business in 2002 with just $500 and a mini-jewelry collection. Do you remember what was in that first collection?
I remember my first mini-collection was an assortment of simple pieces, with beautiful nugget stones and metallic details, but what I remember more is that time in my life. With my newborn son in a Baby Bjorn and my jewelry in a small tea box a friend had given me as a wedding gift, I can picture myself walking door to door to local Austin boutiques and selling out of my very first collection. To look back on that time and see how far we’ve come as a company today is truly astounding.
What were the main challenges of building your business?
I had no capital behind me when I started my business, so growing a company from nothing was a huge struggle from the start. It was certainly a scary time, but I put my heart into the company and did everything I could to see it succeed, even if that meant not taking a salary and paying everyone else before myself. Failure was never an option for us, and that leap of faith gave our company an incredible foundation. I look back on those days and am blown away by how far we have come.
That really is incredible! What about the successes?
To me, our company’s biggest milestone was the opening of our flagship Austin store in the heart of the SOCO district. Having a Kendra Scott boutique was a dream I’d had for years, and though I knew Austinites would love and support it, I could not have imagined the immense, immediate success of the store. The prosperity we experienced and continue to see at the Austin store is what gave us the wings to fly, and allowed us to expand to the 17 stores we have today (with exciting plans for many more!).
What advice would you give other women who are changing or building their own careers?
I have two very important, yet simple points of advice for all aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Number one: Be yourself. Figure out what it is that YOU do best, and strive to create a business that utilizes your individual strengths and talents. Number two: Once you figure out your direction, NEVER take no for an answer! Delete the word “no” from your vocabulary. Once you adopt this attitude, you will soar. This will get you places you never even dreamed of being.
That’s really inspiring! How do you keep your team focused on the important things in life?
I built my company on the three pillars of “Family, Fashion, Philanthropy” because I knew that family was my number one priority, and I wanted to create a culture at our workplace that stays true to that. We have created an atmosphere that thrives on the notion of family first, valuing the extreme importance that each of our families holds for us, and also valuing each other as family. We have something called the “sister rule” at Kendra Scott, where we treat not only the people in our office like a sister or brother, but our customers as well. That focus is what we believe holds the secret to our WOW customer service.
What keeps you centered on the things that are truly important?
With family as my company’s primary focus, it’s easy to keep myself centered on the most important things in life. My family really is what I consider my most valuable possession in the world. I am a mother of three boys and no matter how busy I may get with work, they are my number one priority. I started this business when my first son was 3 months old and being an involved mother has always been important to me. In fact, I even participate in the school car pool! While balancing work and a family is definitely a challenge, I believe you should always make family first. Life is too short to live any other way.
Kendra Scott also has a strong commitment to giving back. What organizations or causes has your company supported?
At the heart of the Kendra Scott brand, you will find a company that involves ourselves deeply in both local and national charities, and finds that the true meaning of success is giving back in a meaningful way. We’ve worked with national organizations like Kind Campaign, Susan G. Komen and Make-A-Wish, but we adore partnering with local causes in our community as well. While we never say no to a philanthropic cause, we have a special place in our hearts for charities that support women and children’s causes. There are no words to explain the amazing feeling of helping provide women and children with opportunities they never imagined would exist, and each of the organizations we work with do exactly that.
What keeps you feeling positive and pushing forward now?
I am living my dream life, doing what I love, and that is all the motivation I need. I love being a designer and an entrepreneur, and I love the community of people I work with every day. Of course, I have an amazing support team to rely on as well. I know my family, especially my sweet husband and three boys, are always there to keep me pushing forward when the days get a little bit harder. They are my cheerleaders, and I am beyond blessed to have them in my life.
What’s the most recent thing that made you smile or laugh out loud?
We’ve just left the craziness of the holiday season behind us, but what a magical season it was with my one-year-old son Grey.
What makes you feel beautiful?
The way my husband looks at me. I am so honored to have such a loving and supportive relationship.
Beauty & hair speed round!
Do you have secret tricks to look polished when short on time?
My quick beauty secret is that I always carry some form of lipstick or gloss in my purse. I’ve always believed a woman’s most important accessory is her glowing smile, and the easiest way to brighten your look is to draw attention to that radiant feature.
What are your tips for beauty & hair care on the go?
I often abide by my favorite mom-on-the-go routine: sweeping my hair up into a bun, adding a touch of lip gloss and an effortless pair of studs. In five minutes I feel great, and I’m ready to take on the day!
What are your quick & easy travel tips to look and feel good?
For effortless jet-setting style, I have two major tips. The first is to keep it simple. Embrace a natural look in your beauty and hair routine, and accessorize with a pair of simple studs and light, layerable necklaces or bracelets. The second key is to stay organized. Our new travel wristlets have been a life saver for me, because I can throw in all my daily essentials and store them away with ease!
Exclusive for Madison Reed Radiant Color customers this month: you will receive a very special offer from Kendra Scott to get gorgeous new jewelry and accessories.
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