Designer, founder and philanthropist Kendra Scott began with a small startup turned billion-dollar brand that focuses on family, fashion and philanthropy. With over 2,600 employees and more than 130 standalone stores, the Kendra Scott brand is known for its design and material innovation, use of color and signature shapes.
I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, surrounded by the hardworking spirit of farmers and factory workers. Those early years shaped my strong work ethic, inspired by the dedication of my parents and grandparents.
As a kid growing up in Wisconsin, I always looked forward to the transition from summer to fall. The changing colors of the trees were beautiful, and our family made the most of this magical time out on my grandparents’ farm. At 16, I moved to Houston, Texas, with my mom and stepfather. Houston opened a world of possibilities in a city environment, encouraging me to dream big and chase after my aspirations.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been drawn to fashion, makeup and getting all dolled up. Early on, I knew I wanted a career in the fashion world—I just didn’t have the roadmap yet. Through my mom and her dedication as a beauty consultant for Mary Kay, I discovered the true essence of entrepreneurship. Watching her build a close-knit community of empowered women, collaborating and uplifting one another, has been the compass guiding my own path.
I opened my first business when I was 19 years old. At the time my stepdad was battling brain cancer, and it upset me to see how irritated his head (bald from chemotherapy) would get from rubbing against his scratchy baseball hats. I knew there had to be a better alternative, and I decided I could open a business selling all types of hats and some of the profits could go to cancer research. It was the perfect blend of my love of fashion and the opportunity to do good, which I feel is my purpose. Unfortunately, I had to close down the business after five years, as it didn’t take off as I had hoped.
Fast forward some years later – and after a few career changes – I was pregnant with my son Cade, and the entrepreneurial bug bit me again. Even though I had sworn off retail after The Hat Box, I wanted to start a business again. Fashion was always a passion, but I didn’t know how to sew, so I turned to hand-crafted jewelry. Pulling apart different materials, mixing metals, and reconstructing them to make something really beautiful that women could adorn was so fun for me.
I believe my best quality is the ability to infuse joy into every moment. Whether it’s designing a piece of jewelry or connecting with an employee or a customer, I strive to bring a sense of happiness and positivity to everything I do.
Traveling is such a wonderful source of inspiration for me! I love exploring new places and immersing myself in different cultures. Some of my favorite destinations include Italy, where the art and fashion scenes truly captivate me. I also find peace in locations like the Bahamas, the natural beauty and tranquility are simply breathtaking.
I collect little brass animals that I find all over the world in my travels. One of my former employees started a shop called Wesley and Rose Curiosity Shop, and she often has incredible vintage items, including brass animals! They are sprinkled around my home and add the perfect touch of versatility and add character to the space.
Tampa Bay is not just a place; it’s a lifestyle! It’s the perfect balance of a laid-back coastal lifestyle with an exciting bustling city feel as well. I’ve had several events here over the past year, and each time, the Tampa community has been so warm and welcoming.
I never thought I could turn my passion for design into a thriving business that celebrates individuality and self-expression while giving back to women and youth causes. It’s a journey that continues to inspire me every day, reminding me that the possibilities are limitless when you follow your passion and believe in the beauty of your own story.
Philanthropy has always been a core pillar at Kendra Scott. While we have always been dedicated to collaborating with women and youth organizations, establishing the Kendra Scott Foundation allows us to deepen our efforts and focus on causes that resonate with our values. The three pillars of health and wellness, education, and entrepreneurship are the driving forces behind Kendra Scott’s long-standing programs and partnerships, which include (but are not limited to): Yellow for Pink by Kendra Scott, Kendra Cares, education and women in entrepreneurship.
These past few years have been a ride of self-discovery and personal growth. I’ve learned that the true beauty of life is in being authentic and vulnerable. That realization led me to take on the challenge of writing my memoir, “Born to Shine,” where I dive into this whole experience.
It truly is a collective effort to bring Kendra Scott to life – from our design team to our incredible retail folks (and everyone in between), it’s a collaborative process that wouldn’t be possible without my incredible team.
Women entrepreneurs face many unique challenges, but one shared challenge is being the only woman in the room. I’ve been in boardrooms where no one looks like me – getting funding and getting taken seriously were major roadblocks. Those roadblocks may not go away, but this is one of the reasons we founded the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (KS WELI) at The University of Texas at Austin – to strengthen the next generation of courageous, creative women leaders who will change the world.
There are so many smart, capable women out there, and I think it’s so important to empower them to pursue their dreams and make an impact, no matter what that may be. We have accomplished an incredible amount as a brand to empower women and children, and the future holds endless possibilities.
From the day I started my business. I never could have imagined that Kendra Scott would be the brand it is today, with over 130 stores across the nation. Today, standing proudly with a store in Tampa Bay. Florida has embraced us as family, making it one of the top states for Kendra Scott. I’m reminded that dreams when fueled by passion and purpose, can surpass even our wildest expectations.
My journey has been filled with incredible support from various corners. First and foremost, my family has been my rock, always cheering me on. Then there are the amazing team members and collaborators who’ve brought their talents to the table, helping shape Kendra Scott into what it is today. Of course, our customers play a huge role too – their enthusiasm and love for our designs fuel our passion. It’s a collective effort, and I’m truly grateful for every person who’s been a part of this journey.