Building a Philanthropic Fashion Empire
Kendra Scott a very popular jewelry brand that became very popular in the lives of many women a couple years back. Kendra was featured at SXSW Interactive panel “Building a Philanthropic Fashion Empire.” Kendra is such an inspiration to many women starting a business and women entrepreneurs in general. But more importantly in her panel she taught us the importance of giving back to the community and making a bigger difference in this world. Thank you for what you do.
1. Giving back is an important part of your company. What would you say is the push to continue family, fashion and a philanthropic mindset in all your company does as your business continues to thrive?
Our brand has experienced such tremendous growth in the past few years. I always say that every morning when I wake up, I’m running a larger company than I was the night before! My primary focus as CEO of this company, however, is to maintain our culture. I built my company on the pillars of Family, Fashion and Philanthropy, and I believe those three pillars are what have led us to such amazing success. I never want us to lose sight of those core values.
2. About a year ago, I graduated from Texas A&M University. I knew Kendra Scott was all about helping others. Being a chair of Aggie Sweethearts, I set up the first and a start to yearly philanthropic events and we along with Kendra Scott are able to help women that have been abused at the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center in Houston. So thank you for making this possible. What other organization causes has your company supported?
As a team, our company engages in philanthropic efforts on a daily basis, donating a record-breaking amount of over $1 million just last year. At Kendra Scott, we live by the belief that we always have something to give. Whether that means donating jewelry to a silent auction at a local school, hosting a fundraising events for a neighbor in need at our store, or participating in a walk for a local organization, we believe there is no cause too small. As we tell our customers, what matters to you matters to us.
3. What were the main challenges of building your business-customer relationship?
When we were preparing to open our very first retail store, I knew I didn’t want my store to be like every other jewelry store in America. I wanted to go against the grain and create a personal experience for my customers. We threw parties, provided cupcakes and champagne, created the Kendra Scott Color Bar™ which allowed our customers to customize a piece of their own, and leave with it in hand. We never said no to a cause or charity, and seized every opportunity we could to give back to our community. I learned early on that you cannot just build a store and wait for people to show up. Activity breeds activity…so we gave them a reason to shop with us.
4. You have many successes, what advice do you have for those women that are changing or starting their own careers?
Never take “No” for an answer. I like to take the approach that “No” is merely a suggestion. Keep the conversation going, ask for advice, talk through next steps or alternative options. At least you’re still talking. Some of the most successful businesses in our world today didn’t get it right with the first try, and I am one of them. Fear of failure or reject can hold you back in so many ways. My advice to any budding entrepreneur is to believe in yourself, have a true passion for what you do, and never ever give up.
5. As your company continues to nationally scale, what keeps you centered on what is truly important?
My family, without a doubt. My first – and most important – job is to be a mother to my three boys. No matter how busy I may be at the office, waking up and having breakfast with my family and having dinner together is very important to me. One of my favorite traditions with my children is each night at dinner when we go around the table and share the best part of our day.
6. Giving back makes one feel they are contributing to important causes and making a bigger difference, can you give us 2 tips on building and maintaining connections when building a brand?
Invest in establishing a personal connection within your community, and get involved in the matters dear to their hearts. Our company hires a Community Outreach Manager in each of our store locations across America, engaging with the people in those communities, learning what they care about, and supporting the causes that matter most to them. That’s why we partner with over 500 organizations a year through our Kendra Gives Back events. Through our commitment to giving back, we build genuine connections with our customers that help us grow in turn.
7. You are such a genuine and down to earth CEO, What makes you smile or laugh the most?
The brilliant team that surrounds me every day! I am lucky to work beside what I believe to be the best team in the world. They are talented, hard-working, incredibly fashionable and so much fun! Whether you are joining a new company or starting one of your own, you should always surround yourself with people who share your same values. At Kendra Scott, those values are Family, Fashion and Philanthropy. And the people in my company exemplify each of those values on a daily basis.
8.Being a part of SXSW Interactive I can imagine is extremely exciting, what are you most excited to share in your panel?
It is such a joy to welcome thousands of visitors to my beloved hometown, where I am proud to say our company began and where our headquarters are still located today. If those who attended my SXSW panel took away just one thing, I hope they leave understanding our company’s true passion for giving back and making a positive difference in our community. That is what I value most.