Kendra Scott Previews New Book ‘Born to Shine’
The entrepreneur behind the eponymous jewelry line shares life lessons from the past, while looking to the future
By Taeler Kallmerten
Photos courtesy of Kendra Scott
Any girl who has come of age in the South will likely tell you that the 2010s saw the rise of Kendra Scott. In my hometown of Katy, Texas, it was no different. As I walked the hallways, shiny oval stones framed in gold wiring hung from the ears of seemingly every girl in school, each with her own individual color. During passing periods, girls gathered around the bathroom mirror with matching necklaces — you know the one — fastening them in place before the tardy bell rang.
Kendra Scott’s life plays out like a well-plotted screenplay, where the highest highs meet the lowest lows, and when all seems lost, Scott, like a superhero, somehow lands on her feet just in the nick of time. It’s a story so intense it could only be told by looking back, and 20 years after she started designing jewelry in the spare bedroom of her home, Scott has done just that.
Born To Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love, releasing Sept. 20, is Scott’s literary debut that is part memoir, part personal development and reads a lot like an older sister sitting down to give advice about navigating the triumphs and losses of growing a business, the realities of being a woman in the workforce and, most of all, breaking down the scenic myth of perfection. Scott’s voice is with us through it all, guiding us like a helping hand.
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Before I sit down for our Zoom interview, I’m struggling to angle my computer to hide my living room/partner’s home office behind me. It’s a modern-day workspace story, but still, the thought of interviewing a self-made billionaire with a mess in view sends me into an insecure frenzy. When I hear Kendra Scott’s voice, which is somewhere between Midwestern and Southern, I remember that she too started her business from humble beginnings and it puts me at ease. We’re both here to discuss perhaps the most dangerous story ever told to women — the fairy tale.
“What I really realized in 2020 was that we were all going through a really difficult time during the pandemic in different ways,” says Scott. “On the outside, everyone thought I was great and happy. I really wanted people to have real conversations with each other.”
She goes on to discuss the importance of her own vulnerability when writing her book.
“I want you to see true examples of what failing forward looks like,” she explains. “It’s easy for people to say you have to fail to succeed, but to read about the failure of my first business, you see how much that business gave me all the tools I needed to learn.”
“If you’re happy at home, you’re going to be happy at work.”
The book reaches into Scott’s past and invites us into her childhood home, her first retail store, meetings with showrooms and inside each bump in the road that led her to becoming the founder of a now billion-dollar company. Excavating the more painful moments of her life was a difficult but cathartic experience, Scott tells me. I must admit to shedding a few of my own tears whilst reading the book’s most tragic moments.
With the Texas leg of her book tour sold out, it’s easy to see that the Lone Star State has adopted the Wisconsin native as its own. Kendra Scott has steadily expanded since 2002, and her audience has grown with her.
“Being with women in all different stages, from graduating high school to going to college. They’re wearing us on game day or during rush and then wearing it in the bridal party in a friend’s wedding,” says Scott.
The business has also added engagement rings to the list of big life moments you can include them in.
“It’s been really fun over the last 20 years to see how our customer has evolved with us and how they’re bringing their next generation into the brand.”
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Undoubtedly, Kendra Scott has secured a spot on the pedestal amongst other immortalized Texas businesses, like H-E-B and Whataburger, that have managed to sell not just a product, but an ethos that has intertwined itself into the Texas spirit. For Scott, the philosophy of “family first,” a lesson learned from her father, will always be important.
“Why can’t we have an amazing career as women and also be present in our family’s lives?” Scott asks aloud, and I get the feeling she’s challenging the entirety of the traditional work-life format. It’s a question that most women have to ask themselves at some point in their lives, but most never find the kind of support needed to truly answer it. This is why Scott aims to create a working environment based in understanding and support of the working mother rather than shame. She aims to be the company that allows for parents to be at every soccer game and not spend the entire time with their heads down in emails, nor does she want apologies for spontaneous trips to the doctor that are required of anyone with children.
“If you’re happy at home, you’re going to be happy at work.”
Scott is ecstatic talking about her upcoming book tour that begins Sept. 15, and stepping away from her CEO role has allowed her to refocus her time on that. But don’t think for a second that the entrepreneur has slowed down, as evidenced by her guest appearances on Shark Tank where she yells affirmations like “You’re a rockstar!” at contestants. Plus, in 2019, she founded the Women’s Entrepreneurial and Leadership Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.
If you couldn’t score a ticket to the book tour event this Saturday, Sept. 17, it doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the festivities, Scott tells me. In true Kendra Scott fashion, she’s found a way to include everyone. The celebration will continue all day Saturday at the flagship store on South Congress where a limited number of signed copies will be available.
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