How did Kendra Scott go from designing jewelry out of her spare bedroom with a $500 investment in 2002 to being valued at $1 billion in recent months? This smart, savvy businesswoman knows and leverages the power of connection.
Witnessing Kendra on the platform at a recent event, I walked away with certainty that your ability to succeed is in direct proportion to your ability to connect. Walking into my next speaking engagement three days later and thousands of miles away, Scott’s presence was everywhere, even though she was nowhere in sight. How is this possible? Scott employs three connection strategies I emphasize in my leadership programs.
- Aligned Action. Kendra Scott’s company consistently lives their culture pillars, one of which is philanthropy. To date, the company has never said no to giving to a charitable cause. In 2015 alone, the company gave over $1 million and nearly 50,000 pieces of jewelry to more than 1,500 organizations.
Those numbers are powerful, but equally powerful are the stories and connections within the community as a result. For example, numerous women greeted me at my next event wearing Scott’s necklaces and earrings. When I commented on their beauty to one woman, she remarked Kendra Scott’s jewelry is all she wears. Years ago, Scott’s company donated a piece for a local breast cancer event this woman coordinated. Dealing with breast cancer herself at the time, the donation had a profound impact. Scott and her company left its mark, not just with this woman, but many others I spoke with that day.
- Bond Before Business. Making individuals first feel welcome and warm creates an atmosphere where connection can thrive. Scott consciously designed stores to be open and inviting, rather than intimidating with jewelry locked behind glass cases. Her retail team engages customers, as if they’re family, when saddling up to the signature Color Bar.
For example, two of the women I met had fond memories of creating jewelry, along with friends, at a recent bridal-shower party at the Color Bar. The women laughed while telling me how much fun they had choosing their own stones and design style with the help of the engaged, playful, and patient employees. As the women touched the necklaces they help create, you could feel how connected they were to both the experience and the brand.
- Model the Behavior. How does Scott find such incredible, engaging employees? Scott’s workforce, which is 95% women, sees work-life integration at every turn. Not only does Scott take time to attend her children’s events, but it’s not uncommon to hear her preach the same to an employee. Her Austin based company has on-site facilities to support parents with children of all ages, including teens. Without making parents choose between a career and family, employees remain connected and loyal.
When Kendra Scott says, “We care about you and what matters to you. Let us know what you need, and we’re here for you,” she’s speaking her truth. It’s the same truth she spoke in the spare bedroom years ago. The same truth that has created a billion-dollar brand leveraging the power of connection.