Kendra Scott Wants to Change the Game for Women in Business—Starting With UT Students.

Kendra Scott jewelry and home decor are available in nearly 1,400 stores nationwide. The company has sales of about $360 million, according to Forbes, and employs more than 2,000 people—more than 90 percent of whom are women.   

In September 2019, Scott donated $1 million to The University of Texas at Austin to launch the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (WEL), a program “uniquely built to address the challenges women often face in business.” The institute will welcome students beginning spring 2020, before opening the doors of its glamorous new students’ center in the Doty Fine Arts Building next fall.   

Scott’s success is the kind business students dream about, but the entrepreneur didn’t have a chance to complete her own undergraduate degree. At 19, she took a break from school at Texas A&M and moved to Austin to help care for her ailing stepfather.   

“I was here with my mom, my stepfather was battling brain cancer at the time,” she explains. “I had every intention of going back [to college] and then life kicked in. I always say I ended up going to the school of hard knocks.” Despite her own experience with higher education—or perhaps because of it—it’s Scott’s next endeavor, on the Forty Acres, that could be her most formidable.  

Kendra Scott

WOMEN, OF COURSE, are the center of the Kendra Scott universe. The self-taught jeweler’s signature style, bauble-like gemstones that dangle from earrings and necklaces, are statement pieces designed to appeal to a broad range of women, and, starting at $45, they have a relatively accessible price point to match. 

“Since the early days of my business, I have been passionate about supporting other women and helping them find their confidence—whether it’s through my designs, empowering the women on my team, or giving back to women’s and children’s causes in our communities,” Scott says. 

That passion is why adding “women” to the title of the institute was important. Though the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program is designed to be inclusive, allowing anyone from any school to take part, Scott says she “wanted a place where [women] are the majority. Where they could feel comfortable taking these courses and classes and where they would have that really amazing support around them.”  

See also  Meet Korede Edih, GC4W Business Woman of the Year.

Creating a space to foster future relationships like these is integral to the institutes’ curriculum, which includes speaker series and leadership summits, as well as the physical lounge. Personal relationships are critical to young entrepreneurs as they navigate the early stages of their careers, but they’re also likely to translate into what business leaders need the most: capital.   

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