In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the beauty, fashion, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, jewelry designer Kendra Scott shares her road to success.
Kendra Scott — a designer, CEO, philanthropist, and jewelry mogul whose eponymous brand has an estimated worth of $1 billion — is in good company at the top. You’ll find her name next to movers, shakers, and cultural icons like Oprah Winfrey, Donna Karan, Sheryl Sandberg, Beyoncé Knowles, and Kylie Jenner on Forbes’ 2018 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. But presiding over a billion-dollar operation and a literal treasure chest of jewels wasn’t always so glittery and glamorous.
Scott started her company in the spare bedroom of her home in 2002 with $500 and shopped her wares around Austin, Texas with her newborn son strapped to her chest. After her first retail venture (a hat shop) failed, the first-time mom told Gayle King on CBS This Morning that she was “scared to be turned away or told no” when she started out on this new journey with a wooden tea box filled with homemade bling. Now, a proud mother of three sons and a wildly successful business that boasts over 2,000 employees (98 percent of which are women), she views that often-feared word from an entirely different perspective. Here, Scott reveals her secrets to glowing skin, living a balanced life, and getting ahead while giving back.
“When I started Kendra Scott®, I was a new mom with limited resources — so naturally, people thought I was crazy to start designing jewelry, especially after my first business running a hat store failed so miserably,” says Scott. “But I learned some valuable lessons from that failure, the most important being to trust myself. I saw a white space in the market for beautiful gemstones at an attainable price point and I decided to seize the opportunity. If I’d listened to other people, or even to my fears, I would not be where I am today.”
Turn a “no” into a new opportunity.
“You should never take no for an answer,” notes Scott. “Turn every ‘no’ you hear into an opportunity to learn, to ask for advice, and to keep the conversation going. You aren’t always going to get it right on the first try, and that’s okay. You can’t let the fear of failure or rejection hold you back, and you can’t give up. Believe in yourself, have a true passion for what you do, and persevere, and you will find success.”
Prioritize what’s really important.
“I am so grateful that this brand allows me the flexibility to be the best mom I can be, while also empowering my team to be the best parents they can be as well,” gushes Scott. “Family will always come first, for me and my employees. I can’t pretend like some days aren’t more difficult than others! There are people who rely on me from every angle, from my team to my husband to my kids, and I want to give each and every one of them my all.”
Create an environment where everyone can thrive.
For Scott, treating her employees like family also means making the office feel like a second home. HQ is outfitted with a gym, a room for nursing mothers to pump, and even an in-house manicure bar. “I want my team to feel valued and appreciated every day they come to work,” she said. “I designed each of our office spaces to feel like a home away from home: inspiring, open, collaborative, and filled with plenty of perks! Whether it’s a meeting over manicures or a place to bring their kids along to work, our space provides what is so important to building a strong culture: flexibility.”
As for the color Scott routinely reaches for during one of those mani meetings: Kendra Scott Nail Lacquer in Rose Quartz ($16). “It’s a pretty shade of pink that’s neutral enough to be paired with any outfit,” she shares. “As a jewelry designer, I know that the key to any great outfit is in the details — manicure included.”
Keep it simple.
The rest of Scott’s beauty routine is equally as “versatile and efficient” as her no-fail nail color. “I stick to products that I know how to use and always work for me,” she said. Among her must-haves are “anything by Charlotte Tilbury” and NARS® Cosmetics Lip Gloss in Orgasm ($26).
After hours, Scott plumps lashes with a quick coat of inky black mascara and uses her “secret weapon” to give lackluster skin an instant boost: Yves Saint Laurent® Touche Éclat® ($38). “It adds a playful glow and makes you look more awake after a full day of work,” she said.
The biggest beauty lesson she’s learned over the years when it comes to makeup: “Simplify, simplify, simplify! You don’t need to hide what you don’t love or go crazy with color. Instead, focus on highlighting your best features.”
How does Scott — a designer who built her entire business creating splurge-worthy pieces for other women — spoil herself? “I love to light one of our candles and indulge in a hot bath with Flower’s Barrow oil ($8) from Lush,” she said. “Our Amethyst Candle ($95) is the perfect scent to help me unwind and let go of any stress after a long day.” Scott also regularly treats herself to a HydraFacial® MD treatment from Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas. “It leaves my face looking and feeling so refreshed!” she said. “Plus, there’s no downtime afterward, which is great since I’m always on the go.”
Always pay it forward.
“You do good.” Scott faces every day with this short-but-loaded mantra in mind. “These are the three words my stepfather spoke to me during his battle with brain cancer and I’ve carried them with me every day since. He knew that the most important thing we can do in life is to use our talents to better the lives of others. I try to live out his wisdom in my professional and personal life every single day.”
Philanthropy remains the heart and soul of Scott’s billion-dollar brand. Her stores around the country regularly host Kendra Gives Back parties to benefit everything from national charities to local organizations. She’s also a bright spot in hospitals across the nation the Kendra Cares program that brings Scott’s signature customizable jewelry, Color Bar™, to patients. Her latest endeavor, the Charms Collection, features baubles that “benefit impactful causes.”
Much like Scott’s rise to the top that included plenty of twists and turns, these new accessories are designed to reflect each person’s distinct path. “Everyone’s story will be unique!” she said.
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