I had the immense pleasure of meeting and chatting with jewelry designer Kendra Scott recently at a private event in downtown Austin. Scott spoke to a group of young professional women about balancing life and career, and her core philosophies of family, fashion and philanthropy- a perfect subject matter for my Behind the Seams series which focuses on fashion and entrepreneurship.
It’s hard to believe that Kendra Scott’s wildly successful eponymous jewelry line began in an extra bedroom of her house with little more than $500 and staunch determination. But every entrepreneur’s road to success starts somewhere, often at the intersection of sweet dreams and harsh realities. The loss of her step father to cancer became the catalyst for Scott’s first business, the Hat Box, which specialized in head wear for cancer patients. Five years later, Scott started her jewelry line Kendra Scott, now in its 10th year. “Jewelry making was an escape for me. If I was having a bad day, I’d make jewelry for the people in my life that I loved, and I would feel better,” said Scott.
Today, Scott ensures this “feel good” philosophy permeates her brand. “I wanted to create a ‘non-jewelry’ jewelry store. No locked cases, no need to ask to see anything. Customers are welcome to touch the jewelry, try it on, or design their own at the color bar.” Scott is in touch with her customer base as well. “The spectrum is not an age; it’s a personality. The Kendra Scott customer is dynamic, fun, full of energy and loves fashion!” Women’s love of fashion is evident in Scott’s planned retail expansion in 2013, with stores already open in Austin, Dallas and Beverly Hills.
Scott concluded her speech with her inspirational “7 Rules to Live By.”
Rule 1: Let go of the “what ifs.”- “Don’t live in a past life,” Scott advised. She didn’t finish college but that didn’t stop her from graduating from MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program in 2009. “Too often, women worry about what if I had done this or that differently.” She went on to say that when it feels like a door is closing, there’s a window of opportunity opening elsewhere. One of Scott’s windows of opportunity led her to Oscar de la Renta (he sought her out and used her jewelry in a runway show)! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help; it’s part of learning and growing.
Rule 2: Paint a picture.- Scott’s office boasts a “blue sky wall” where employees are encouraged to dream big and pin inspirational images. While at MIT, one of Scott’s assignments was to write down all the details of her life three years from that moment. What did she want to do in three year’s time, where would she live and work, and so on. Scott revealed that everything she wrote on her list has come to fruition, and she continues to update the list regularly. Doing so motivates her to move in the direction of fulfilling her goals.
Rule 3: Leave your mark.
Rule 4: Be appreciative. “People don’t do this very often anymore, but handwritten thank you notes are so nice,” Scott added. She keeps stationery in her desk and sends handwritten notes to those she appreciates.
Rule 5: Laugh- a lot.
Rule 6: See the world.
Rule 7.5: Accessorize!
For all things Kendra Scott, including fashion, words of wisdom and fabulous sales, be sure to check out her blog here!