As blue is to the Tiffany & Co. brand, yellow—the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness—is to the Kendra Scott brand. The bright and cheerful hue, incorporated across all Kendra Scott packaging, oozes vivacity and positivity.
The same could be said about Kendra Scott herself, who founded her eponymous brand with just $500 back in 2002 as a new mom. Fast forward to today, and this self-made billionaire and author of the national best-selling memoir “Born to Shine, still finds inspiration in what’s become the signature color of her brand.
“Yellow has always been our guiding light,” Scott says in a blog post on her website. “We believe in its power to uplift spirits and transform energies, to make each of us feel a little happier and more confident than we were before. Like a familiar friend, yellow is a colorful companion that can truly brighten your day.”
You don’t have to tell that to the millions of Kendra Scott devotees to whom opening a bright yellow box emblazoned with the gold Kendra Scott logo and tied up with a white satin ribbon is the epitome of a great day—a box powerful enough to erase even a really bad day. While “Legally Blonde” was filmed before Kendra Scott launched, one gets the feeling Elle Woods would be a superfan of the brand whose tagline is “Good things come in yellow packages.”
Kendra Scott might be in the business of selling on-trend fine and fashion jewelry, but it’s the intangible things she’s selling that have turned it into a billion-dollar brand: a message of specialness, a sense of belonging, an affordable status symbol, and an upbeat life philosophy.
Known for its dynamic use of color, innovative materials, and signature shapes, one of the initial tipping points for the Kendra Scott brand was the Danielle earring, an instantly recognizable hexagonal shape perfect for showing off stones. Exuding an upscale bohemian vibe, the iconic gemstone earrings had a way of catching the camera’s light, lending a dose of star quality to its wearer. Not surprisingly, the Danielle earring became an immediate celebrity favorite, showing up in magazines, on red carpets, and on Instagram feeds. “It really put us on the map,” Scott recalls. “It was the crown jewel for us.”
The Elisa pendant necklace is yet another iconic Kendra Scott piece. After it debuted in 2014, the versatile gemstone-adorned necklace became an instant hit across generations. A number one bestseller since 2015, an Elisa pendant necklace is sold every minute, according to the brand.
But what truly put Kendra Scott on the road to early success was a brick-and-mortar experiential initiative launched in 2010 known as Color Bar by Kendra Scott. Initially hosted at Henri Bendel in New York City, the design-your-own-jewelry experience allows shoppers to select from an array of metals and stones and then watch as their custom piece of jewelry is created in a matter of minutes. This personalized design concept offering almost instant gratification—is now a fixture at the more than 130 stand-alone Kendra Scott stores across the country.
Raised by an enterprising mother who worked as a Mary Kay consultant, Scott learned firsthand about the power of women-to-women grasroots marketing, a lesson she applied to her own business early on. In 2018, the brand introduced college ambassadors known as Kendra Scott Gems, who are gifted jewelry in exchange for on-campus marketing. That program is at least part of the reason why Kendra Scott has such a large fan base among the Gen Z crowd, who often refer to the brand as simply, “Kendra.”
But perhaps the biggest lesson Scott learned from her mother is the idea of connection before transaction, a strategy woven throughout her business model—from the Color Bar experience to the brand ambassadors; the focus on giving back on a local level to a commitment to treating customers like family.
The Brother/Sister rule, a customer service policy that empowers retail staff to find solutions for customers quickly by imagining what they would do for their own sister or their brother, was born out of the brand’s origins as a supportive community of women helping other women.
“It was this village—this community of love and support—that we started in those very early days of Kendra Scott that have just continued to grow,” Scott says.
Based in Austin, Texas, and one of only 16 women in the United States to carry the title of founder of a company valued at $1 billion, Scott stepped down as CEO in February 2021. However, she continues to serve as executive chairwoman and chief creative officer while furthering the brand’s mission to “shine bright and do good” through philanthropic efforts.
Launched on International Women’s Day in 2023, The Kendra Scott Foundation is working to deepen the brand’s already significant investment in changing the lives of women and youth. Since 2010, the Kendra Scott brand has given more than $50 million to causes that support women and youth in the key focus areas of health and wellness, education and entrepreneurship, and empowerment.
While the brand gives to large nonprofits, it pays particular attention to local nonprofits, especially through Kendra Gives Back, a philanthropic initiative that allows local groups to host in-store shopping sessions, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the charity of their choice.
“I wanted to focus on local nonprofits because in so many communities, they’re the ones that do the most work but get the least help,” Scott says. “It gets even more granular than that—we’ve had customers host Kendra Gives Back events to support local families in need. Our stores are where we bring community together—connection before transaction. My intention has always been to do good first and sell jewelry second.”
With success firmly under her belt, these days Scott is looking ahead to her brand’s legacy as well as her own impact on the world.
“When I founded Kendra Scott, I really wanted the philanthropy part of it to be how we would measure success,” Scott said at Brookfield Properties’ inaugural NEXT summit in San Antonio. “How when I’m 90 years old sitting on my porch in Wimberly, Texas, that I’m going to look back on this and say, ‘yes, we built this amazing brand, but we have done significant things for the women and children in health, education, wellness, and empowerment.’ And that is what excites me and gets me jumping out of bed every morning to keep going.”
There are 15 Kendra Scott stores located within the Brookfield Properties portfolio:
Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers, AR; Park Meadows in Lone Tree, CO; Mizner Park in Boca Raton, FL; Augusta Mall in Augusta, GA; Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, GA; Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines, IA; Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, IL; Oxmoor Center in Louisville, KY; Plaza Frontenac in Saint Louis, MO; The Streets at Southpoint in Durham, NC; Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, OH; Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, TX; First Colony Mall in Sugar Land, TX; The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio, TX; and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, VA