Kendra Scott's entrepreneurial venture into jewelry began like many startups do: at the intersection of a realized need in the market, and the tenacity to do something about it. Making the decision to create a jewelry brand was simple, really, she told SWAAY.
“I couldn't find the jewelry I was looking for. I saw a white space in the industry for beautiful, quality designs at an affordable price, so I thought, 'Why not make it myself?'" she explained. “I used natural gemstones to create unique, quality pieces that any woman could afford."
Jewelry in tow, she walked door-to-door in Austin, Texas selling the pieces she'd designed and handmade in her spare bedroom. That was back in 2002, and to say the brand has found success would be an enormous understatement. Fifteen years later, and Kendra Scott is now a $1 billion company with no signs of slowing down.
“Each day I wake up to run a company that is bigger than it was the night before," she said. “If someone had told me then — when I was still boxing and shipping each order from my dining table — that I would be running a $1 billion company one day, I wouldn't have believed it. Now, when I look around at the inspiring, dedicated men and women that make up this company, I am not surprised in the least."
She said that she learned early on that in order to find success, you must surround yourself with a group of people who not only believe in your passion, but are just as invested in the outcome as you.
“Their hard work and passion for this brand is so much of the reason we're experiencing success today," she says. “With every collection we launch, and every new design we create, I challenge my team to dream bigger than we ever have before. We have a saying here to 'always go beyond.' Whether it's going beyond for a customer, a colleague, or the design of a new collection, we bring that mindset to work every day."
It wasn't always easy, though, and it takes time to build momentum. In addition to the door-to-door sales, Scott launched her company with zero capital behind her.“[It] was incredibly difficult," she said. “That first phase of my business was a constant struggle, but I put my heart, and every dime I had, into this dream of mine. Even if it meant forgoing my salary to pay everyone else before myself, failure was never an option. Strangely enough, I believe that leap of faith in our earliest days is what has given my company such a strong foundation today."
Today the company boasts 67 stand-alone stores, and counting, and has branched out to sell a nail polish line (inspired by gemstones, of course), and gorgeous home goods. These new offerings have strengthened the brand instead of diluting it, largely because of Scott's ability to stay true to her core values.
“Our pillars of family, fashion, and philanthropy have shaped my business, our culture, and the decisions we make every day," she explained. “Not only do we treat each other like family; we also live out our philanthropy pillar through our dedication to giving back. And no matter how large or successful we become, we will always look to those three core values as our foundation." She said her dream for the company is to create a legacy brand that lasts for the generations to come, and urges fellow entrepreneurs to dream big and be disruptive in their own industries.
“My advice is to take a look at your talents, what makes you unique, and use those differentiators to build a business that stands apart from the rest," she said. “You will most likely find success when you dare to think differently."
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.