Business Lunch podcast

Kendra Scott on Fashion, Family, and Philanthropy

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Kendra Scott started her iconic brand with $500, a spare bedroom, and a newborn—and now her company is valued at over a billion dollars.   The 1st Annual Scalable Impact LIVE took place in Austin, TX in early November of this year, and Kendra Scott was one of the big-name guests. She sat down with Roland Frasier to talk about how she started her business, how it became so wildly successful, and why she’s so passionate about giving back.   Listen in for some inspiration and brilliance from this woman on fire.   How It All Started   Kendra’s first son was born on 11/11/01, just two months after 9/11. She vividly remembers what it felt like to be given this tiny human being in such an uncertain time. No one knew what the world was going to be like going forward, but there was an incredible opportunity for hope and connection.   Kendra knew she wanted to be the best mom she could be, but she’d also loved fashion and design since she was a little girl. “If I could do what I loved,” she says, “that would be the greatest thing in the world.” Her first business failed, then her stepfather died, leaving her with this thought: “We have one life, and it is short and it is fast. While we’re here, we need to use the gifts we’ve been given to do good.”   She started her business very quietly, because she didn’t want people to see her fail. She was terrified that people would laugh at her.    How She Worked Through That Fear   Fear is real, Kendra says, and it is okay to be scared. “I wake up every morning, leading a business that is bigger than it was the day before. I’m walking in uncharted territory every time I get out of bed.”    It helps knowing she doesn’t have to do it alone. She’s not afraid to ask for help. Mentors are huge for her. And she has built “the most awesome team ever.” She has 3000 employees, and 96% of them are women. The brand is the DNA of all the people who work with her at her company. It’s her name, but they’re truly a team. She was alone in it for a long time. Now, when she has a problem, everyone puts their heads together and rolls up their sleeves, excited to help solve the problem.    Choosing entrepreneurship means not choosing the easy route. It is so fun when it’s fun and so scary when it’s scary. Entrepreneurship is peaks and valleys, just like life. When you’re in the valleys, you think this is it. I’m going to lose my business. When you start realizing you can get out of the valley, and you have a team doing it with you, it’s so cool. You overcame something together, and your bond is so amazing.    The Kendra Scott company is on a mission to do good. Their core values are family, fashion, and philanthropy, and their customers share those values. They’re caring, optimistic, and fun, and have a heart that beats for their community. “You can put your team and your community first and still have a fiscally successful company,” Kendra says. “And now I’m teaching others how to do it.”   What 2020 Was Like For Her Business   In a retail business where you have 120 brick and mortar stores, “a pandemic isn’t great,” Kendra says. She remembers all the news channels with their doomsday pronouncements of “brick and mortars have seen their last day.” She didn’t sleep for a couple days in March 2020. She and her team went back to the white board and started completely over. They changed everything overnight.    The only thing that didn’t change was their core values. How do we stay true to our core values? was the only question that mattered. They did all their Kendra Gives Back events virtually. They created new connections with their customers—sending them letters, calling people and checking on them, making masks, delivering things to people’s homes.    They fought the urge to over-strategize. “We have to paint this train while it’s moving,” Kendra told her team. They couldn’t stop the train. They knew they might make mistakes, but they were determined...

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