Kendra Scott started her jewelry brand with $500 in the middle of a recession, when the world and retail industry were places of great uncertainty. Scott said she managed to turn a seemingly impossible situation into a billion-dollar jewelry business by making sure her brand always remained true to itself.
“Your brand has to be authentic. It has to have heart. People today can just see through; there’s no more ‘what happens in the back room.’ Everything is visible,” said Scott. “I think if you start with a genuine, authentic heart, then you really have a brand story that is meaningful to people.”
On this week’s episode of the Glossy Podcast, Scott joined us to talk about how she built a brand with heart, why it’s important to talk directly to the consumer and why a good retail experience will never go out of style.
Below are excerpts from our conversation with Kendra Scott, edited for clarity.
On learning from failure
“I … launched my first company called The Hat Box. I sold every kind of hat — I mean, you name it, if you needed a hat, I had it. I was determined that I was going to have hat stores all across the United States — that was my big dream, but nothing I did was going to change the world and get everyone to start wearing hats again. So after five years of trying to make that work, I had to close my first business. It was so devastating; I felt like this incredible failure. But at the same time, it was the best education I could have ever gotten to set me up for what the future was holding.”
On meeting customers where they are
“[Opening stores] wasn’t always going to the vanity locations, which a lot of brands do. We were going to places like Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma City, in markets that not all brands think of going. We went to where our customers were, building stores that were creating excitement and an incredibly loyal following, and those stores had great success. Some of our stores were paying themselves back in three months.”
On staying true to your brand
“First and foremost, we’re a jewelry brand, and I love jewelry design, so everything we do has to come from a jewelry designer’s perspective. There also has to be a reason for being there; there would have to be white space that we’re filling. We’d have to be giving her something she couldn’t get anywhere else and doing it in our own unique way. Otherwise, I’m not interested in doing it.”