Born To Shine: Kendra Scott


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Interview By: Michelle Emmick

Designer, founder, and philanthropist Kendra Scott started her company in 2002, just three months after her first son was born and with only $500. Going door-to-door to Austin boutiques armed only with a tea box full of her jewelry, Kendra captivated businesses and customers with her vibrant personality and unique eye for design.

Known for her dynamic use of color and genuine materials, Kendra’s commitment to innovation, quality, and detail has taken her small start-up to a billion-dollar business and has won over loyal fans, media, and celebrities alike. With over 2,000 employees, Kendra Scott boasts a thriving web business and over 115 standalone stores, and the brand has expanded beyond fashion jewelry into the categories of fine jewelry, home décor, and beauty. Today, her namesake company continues to operate out of Austin, TX, with a state-of-the-art corporate office complete with design lab and an industry-leading distribution center, both catering to her employees’ career goals and family-life balance. 

With Family and Fashion as two core pillars of her business, Kendra maintains a focus on the third pillar of Philanthropy in all she does. Since 2010, the company has given back over $40 million to local, national, and international causes. In 2021 alone, the company partnered with 10,000+ local causes through the Kendra Gives Back program, funded 6,040 metastatic breast cancer research hours through Breast Cancer Research foundation, raised over $450,000 for families touched by tragedy, and more. 

Now the self-made billionaire has taken on a brand-new venture, adding another title to her list of many, as an author. Her new book Born To Shine is one you do not want to miss and is our Ask Us Beauty Book Club Pick! 

Q & A With Kendra

Born To Shine is an authentic, inspiring, and laugh-out-loud memoir. This book shares Kendra’s personal journey, and it jumps off the pages with so much humor, relatability, and heart. I was honored to receive an advance copy and the opportunity to ask Kendra about some of the standout moments and lessons from the book. 

Q. One of my favorite quotes from inside Born to Shine is “If you look at the struggles in your life, they have all happened because there’s something amazing waiting for you. There is an open window. This moment is going to make you stronger in the future.” Tell me about that! 

I believe that everyone has immense and innate value, and that our job is not only to shine ourselves, but to find the shine in others, too. Once you discover your true passion—your why—it becomes easier to rally behind that vision and purpose. When you are motivated by a cause bigger than you, challenges and roadblocks become opportunities for learning and growth instead of failures.” 

Q. Inside one of the chapters you share a beautiful story and reference a powerful and simple concept, “Live the Dash.” What does it mean to you, and how important is that to happiness?  

 To “live the dash” was something I learned from my best friend Holley, who lost her life to metastatic breast cancer back in January 2016. It refers to the dash between a person’s birth and death years. When Holley was diagnosed, she knew her life would be shortened and decided to focus on living intentionally, or “living her dash” to the fullest. Living the dash to me means filling my life with as much joy as I can and taking advantage of the time I have. This includes spending time with my family (and fur babies!) and advocating for female entrepreneurs. Living your dash the way you want to is critical to happiness – no one can dictate what happiness means to you except you! 

Q. You write about the importance of authenticity when it comes to finding success, peace, and happiness. We couldn’t agree more! Why do you believe this is so crucial?  

Authenticity is so important because those innate qualities that make you unique are what make you special! Let go of the idea of perfection, which is a myth, and lean into what makes you unique. That’s my secret sauce to life. 

Q. It’s clear in your writing and the pillars of your business that family is your foundation. As you reflect, especially after writing the book and recalling so many life lesson memories, what stands out, and what do you see inside yourself that reflects the incredible influence your parents and family have had on your success, joy, and kindness?  

I am immensely lucky to have such a supportive, hardworking, and loving family that has taught me more than I could ever imagine, and I continue to learn from them every day. But above all, I am thankful for how my parents and grandparents taught me how to work and how to love. 

They inspired me to head programs like Kendra Gives Back and Kendra Cares, which are truly rewarding.

Q. Let’s talk about making an impact! For anyone who doesn’t know, can you share a little bit about all the various Kendra Scott philanthropic programs? 

At Kendra Scott, giving back is a part of our DNA, and we believe giving back is the truest form of success. We are committed to giving back year-round to causes that enable women and youth to live their healthiest, brightest, and most empowered lives. Not only does a portion of our annual proceeds benefit charitable organizations, but we are also proud to oversee our very own philanthropic programs. Kendra Cares is our creative arts program, which brings the magic and joy of our Color Bar™ to pediatric hospitals across the country and allows patients and their caregivers to design a customized piece of jewelry at no cost. To date, the program has expanded into over 30 pediatric hospitals across the country, and we can’t wait to continue climbing. Kendra Gives Back, our community giving program‌, allows anyone to host events, virtually or in-person, for causes and organizations you care about most. In the last year alone, we partnered with over 10,000 local causes through the Kendra Gives Back program. 

This issue is celebrating hope and the holidays. What do the holidays look like for you, and do you have a favorite holiday tradition? 

It wouldn’t be the holidays without my husband, our 6 kids, and 4 dogs! I always look forward to spending time with all my kids, and we have so many fun traditions. Some of my favorites include decorating our Christmas tree as a family, baking cookies together, and hanging the stockings on our mantle. 

Ask Us Beauty is on a mission to showcase beauty in all its forms. We believe it’s in our professional lives and our personal passions, our health, wellness, family, friends and loved ones. How do you personally define beauty? 

I couldn’t agree more that there are all different forms of beauty! Beauty to me means celebrating those unique traits that make you one-of-a-kind. 

Thank you Kendra for sharing your story and making an impact!

Born To Shine is available here

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