The Genuine Article

Kendra Scott shares her thoughts on women in leadership, family, and philanthropy.

Kendra Scott has enjoyed a career making stylish accessories since starting her jewelry business in 2002. Her delicate designs come in a wide array of colorful, semi-precious, and fine materials with feminine names like Elise, Tessa, and Danielle. She built her iconic brand by giving women what they want – fashionable and affordable jewelry that holds its value and style. After twenty years in the business and over 100 stores nationwide, she is one of only a handful of women in the United States to be the founder of a company valued at one billion dollars.

Scott has spent the last two decades learning lessons about motherhood, philanthropy, and being a woman in a sphere of influence. Although she has seen her share of failures, Scott makes it a point to surround herself with a good team and isn’t afraid to ask for help. She sees strength in knowing when to turn to others, which led her to recently make one of her most significant career changes.

“This year, I decided to hand over the role of CEO to my trusted friend and former President, Tom Nolan, which has allowed me to step further into my roles as designer, executive chairwoman, and philanthropist,” she said. “So often we as women want to believe we can do it all, but when we realize that it’s important to lean on others for support so we can put our full passion into making an impact, that is when we truly shine.”

The Austin-based entrepreneur began her business as a young mom and strived to create a “utopia for working moms and for women like me who wanted to do it all.” Now a mom to three boys, Scott believes she has succeeded in her vision of empowering other women to live their best lives. She credits setting boundaries and encouraging her team to “take time for wellness” as examples of what should be common in the workplace.

Fashion and trends go hand in hand, leading many creatives to turn towards trends for their inspiration. Scott, however, turns inward and relies on self-care, traveling, and her family to keep her motivated. During the pandemic, she has spent a lot of time with her family at her mountain retreat. For Scott, the change of scenery, outdoor activity, and family time has been therapeutic and a great source of inspiration.

“For me, spending time with my kids really helps me not only connect with my family and have fun but take a break from the office and tap into the self-care that is so important,” she says. “We love doing active things like bike riding, hiking, and taking our pups, Duke and Gracie, for walks.”

In addition to family and fashion, one of the motivating factors in Scott’s business since its inception has been philanthropy. Her platform is used to give back to others in a meaningful way, and she primarily focuses on causes that support women and children. Her charitable giving adapts to the changing needs of the community, and over the past year, the brand’s philanthropy pivoted to COVID-19 relief. This effort included donating over 3 million meals to Feeding America through sales from the Everlyne Bracelet, providing materials for over 4,500 masks to frontline workers, and hosting over 1,000 virtual giveback events in place of store events to help local charities raise funding.

An unprecedented year also led Scott to put her philanthropic efforts toward mental health issues, as well. She recently partnered with Active Minds, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness and removing mental health stigma.

“My step-father once told me something that has shaped how I view life: You’re here on this earth for a short time, and while you’re here, do something good,” says Scott. “From the first day I started Kendra Scott, I decided that if anyone came to me asking for help, I would find a way to give back.”

This is a transitional year for Scott and her business. No longer CEO of her massive brand, she may have more time for fun pursuits like her recent stint on Shark Tank and could be vaulted into crossover fame, as so many in the fashion world are. Ever the entrepreneur, however, we will most likely see Scott working on her next big idea. “As women, sometimes we put such pressure on ourselves to be perfect, worrying about making that just-right step rather than simply taking action.” And as Scott has proven time and again, when she takes action, good things happen.

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