By Melanie Dunham
You’ve seen her jewelry on celebrities and in magazines; you’ve heard her name mentioned in business circles and non-profit giving; and her rags-to-riches story has been reported time and time again. An Austinite for nearly 20 years, Kendra Scott is a prime example of what makes this town great. From her business savvy to her extensive philanthropic resumé, she’s blazing a trail for young women a mile wide.
AF: Tell us about your family.
KS:I am the lucky mother of three beautiful boys: Cade is 12, Beck is nine and my newest, Grey, is just two months. My family means the absolute world to me and no matter how busy I may be with my business, I always put them first.
AF: What are your favorite things to do in Austin with your kids?
KS:Austin is like a giant playground for my boys, so any kind of outdoor activities are our favorites. Whether going out on Lake Austin and wake boarding, going for a hike at Sculpture Falls, riding around Town Lake or watching their many different sports games, I love enjoying the Austin outdoors with my children.
AF: Which do you think is the most kid-friendly restaurant in town?
KS:Salt Lick is without a doubt our family favorite. Not only is their barbeque absolutely mouth-watering, but the atmosphere of the restaurant is also spectacular and perfect for my energetic boys! Located just outside of Austin in Driftwood, the restaurant is surrounded by acres of beautiful land, so there is plenty of room for my boys to run around and play. While there may be a wait on busy nights, there is always live music playing and delicious popcorn to snack on while you wait.
AF: In what ways do you encourage your kids to engage in philanthropy as you do?
KS:Being caring and thoughtful to others is a value I instilled in my children at a very young age, and continue to weave into their lives, regularly taking them with me on volunteer trips and teaching them the importance of giving back to those in need. Earlier this summer, Cade and Beck hosted a lemonade stand in front of my Austin store on South Congress and were able to raise $2,600 for HeartGift Foundation, a philanthropy that brings free surgery to correct life-threatening heart defects to children around the world. I think it’s immensely important for children to experience the joy of giving back to those in need, and I’m committed to ensuring that all three of my boys learn this from firsthand experience.
AF: What spurred your passion for helping women enduring health or financial turmoil?
KS:I started my business when my own family was going through a difficult financial situation, so I have been there. With a baby on the way, it would have been easy to panic about our situation and sink, but it was this determination to provide for our family that led to the start of my business. As a mother and an entrepreneur, I know firsthand that everyone can use a helping hand at some point, and so giving back to causes that empower women, such as Dress For Success, is extremely important to me. Philanthropy has always been one of the core values driving my company, and it brings me joy to see young girls and ladies provided with opportunities they never imagined would exist!
Another experience that has shaped my life is my stepfather’s battle with cancer. In fact, this is what inspired me to open my first business, The Hat Box, a hat boutique whose proceeds benefitted cancer research. Now, many of my own friends have battled breast cancer, and so giving back to causes that help cancer awareness and research, such as the Komen Foundation, is equally important to me. To me, giving back to my community in a meaningful way is true success and to do so is a priceless experience.
AF: What do you feel is the biggest challenge in having a successful career and a young family?
KS:Achieving balance with your professional and family life is a constant challenge, but what has helped me is establishing a company culture that thrives on a family-first mantra. I founded my company when my first son was born, and I did that for many reasons, but mainly because I’ve always wanted to have a career that allowed me to put being a mom first. While I faced challenges along the way, having my own business allows me to be the best mom I can be, while doing what I love – designing jewelry. I have always put being a mom first and I’ve structured my business around that mantra. The way I work allows me to always be present in my children’s lives, even if that means staying up until 1:00 am working after they’ve gone to sleep. I’ve always done whatever is necessary to make sure that when I’m with them, the focus is on them and them alone. While having my children as my number one priority can be exhausting at times as a business owner, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
AF: How has Austin changed since you moved here at 19?
KS:Austin has changed in so many ways since I moved here at 19. The biggest change is the influx of people we’ve had move into the city, but one of the things I love most about Austin is that no matter how big we may get, there always remains a true sense of pride and community, and that’s rare to find in a large city.
AF: Despite having boutiques in eight other cities, what keeps you calling Austin home?
KS:Austin is my home base and will remain so because of many reasons, the first being that it is such an incredible city to raise a family in. The sense of community and family here is just unbelievable. Austinites embrace and support each other in everything, and that’s a perfect environment to raise children in. There are also just so many wonderful activities for families to do together, especially outdoors, and my boys and I love that. The other is because Austin is a perfect place to start a business, and I truly believe that this city gave us our wings to fly. I feel so lucky for my business to have its roots here in Austin, Texas. While Austin is a growing city, it still has this laid back, homegrown quality that cannot be found anywhere else. I believe I have been able to grow my brand globally because I started in a place that is so supportive of local businesses.
AF: Describe your perfect day.
KS:I would start the day right, enjoying breakfast and good conversation with my family. Then, I would take some time to draw inspiration and do some sketches for one of my upcoming collections. Depending on the time of year, I would enjoy the afternoon riding bikes around Town Lake or kayaking, then enjoy the sunset from one of the park benches. Last, we would finish the day with a delicious, homemade Italian meal and share the best part of our day with each other, my personal favorite family tradition.
AF: Is there anything you would like to share with Austin Family readers?
KS:I feel so blessed to call myself an Austinite and to have the opportunity to raise both my family and business in this incredible city. I look at Austin as a beautiful little oasis in the center of Texas that allows creativity, live music, art and countless other amazing elements to thrive. The people, culture and geography make the city a dream for creatives like myself! I can’t thank the people of Austin enough for their role in igniting my small business to the global brand it is today.