Born in 1974 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Kendra Scott’s journey to becoming a jewelry magnate began with humble roots. Today, she stands as one of the most inspiring figures in the business world, not just for her acumen in turning a small startup into a billion-dollar brand but also for her philanthropic endeavors.
Early Life & Inspiration
Kendra grew up in a family where hard work and determination were core values. It was these foundational lessons that inspired her to embark on her entrepreneurial journey. Her first business venture was a retail hat store in Austin, Texas. Although the store was short-lived, the lessons she gained from it proved invaluable.
In 2002, Kendra started her eponymous jewelry brand with just $500. Operating from the spare bedroom of her home and driven by a passion for beautiful yet affordable jewelry, she handcrafted her first collection. Her primary aim was to fill the gap she perceived in the market: unique, quality pieces available at a more accessible price point.
Building the Brand
Kendra Scott’s breakthrough came when her jewelry was featured in the Oscar gift bags in 2005, gaining her national attention. Subsequently, her designs were worn by numerous celebrities, further boosting the brand’s profile. However, it wasn’t just the glitz and glamour that put Kendra on the map. Her ability to connect with customers on a personal level, hosting trunk shows in their homes and listening to their feedback, became a key factor in her business model.
The brand expanded, opening its first boutique in Austin in 2010. This was followed by an expansion spree, with stores across the US. Every boutique exudes a warm, inviting atmosphere, echoing Kendra’s own welcoming nature.
Scott has been able to take her business beyond success. Her company now enjoys a billion-dollar valuation as of 2023.
Kendra Scott’s appearance as a guest shark on ABC’s popular TV show, “Shark Tank,” further solidified her reputation as a business leader with keen insights into the retail and fashion industry. On the show, she provided budding entrepreneurs with invaluable advice and sometimes investment, leveraging her own experiences and challenges faced in building a brand from scratch.
While on Shark Tank, Scott created one particularly memorable moment.
Kevin & Lori Lane were looking for $350,000 for 10% equity of their sand castle building product they called Create A Castle. The product sought to make it easy to create intricate castles in the sand or snow. The sharks were really interested when they heard that the company made $600,000 from the previous year and were expecting to make $3 million during the current year. They were able to do this by landing a deal with Costo Canada and Sam’s Club. However, they lost $1000,000 due to the increased shipping costs from the recent pandemic. The good news was they anticipated a profit of $300,000.
All of the sharks loved the product but only Daymond John and Scott made an offer. Daymond was seeking a licensing deal for 25% equity. However, Scott offered to help them build a brand for 20% equity. Ultimately, the couple decided to go with Scott’s offer.
Kendra also created a memorable moment when she sought to invest in Elly Gheno’s underwear subscription service for women. Gheno asked $500k for a 5% stake in her company. While she was able to build the company to achieve $3 million in sales, she has only been able to net 5% of that.
While Kevin O’Leary offered 15% for the $5000,000, Barbara Cocoran and Scott teamed up to offer 20% total equity for the amount asked. However, when Gheno mentioned her hesitation with giving up 20%, Scott abandoned the deal with Corcoran to slash her equity offer to 10% which Gheno immediately accepted.
Philanthropy, Legacy & Beyond
While her business achievements are exemplary, Kendra’s commitment to giving back is equally remarkable. Through the “Kendra Gives Back” initiative, she has donated millions to various causes, from pediatric cancer to women’s empowerment. For Kendra, success is measured not just by the bottom line but by the positive impact made on the community.
Kendra’s journey serves as an inspiration for countless entrepreneurs. From starting in a small room with limited resources to guesting on “Shark Tank” and running a billion-dollar company, she has shown that with passion, resilience, and a genuine commitment to one’s craft and community, dreams can become reality.