The Story Behind the Bling

 The Story Behind the Bling

CEO Kendra Scott details her path from a young fashionista with dreams to leading a billion-dollar company.

Sometimes the person who seems to have it all together doesn’t, indeed, have it all together—in life or in business. She struggles. She works hard. She has failures and successes, but above all she is imperfect. Kendra Scott would have readers know that about her in her new book, Born to Shine, as she imparts lessons and wisdom she has learned on her journey from a Midwest girl with dreams of fashion to a trailblazing Texas jeweler. The memoir tells the tale of her life experiences—every little thing that led up to and laid the foundation for Kendra Scott, the person and the company.

Throughout the book, Scott repeatedly points out that we are all human beings working to be better and to create better lives—lives that aren’t perfect despite what is posted to Instagram. But early on, she tells the reader we are all “born to shine.”

We are products of the times we grew up in, and Scott is no different. There are chapters devoted to key experiences in middle school that stoked her fire to remain true to herself, and you can see clearly how those experiences are woven further into her story. There are also chapters that reveal her humanity as a mother and a philanthropist, as a daughter and granddaughter, and as a friend and confidant.

Scott gives nods to hard scrapes with a playground bully and what the fat lip she received in a Pizza Hut parking lot taught her. She shares her connection with fellow Texas businesswoman, the late Mary Kay Ash. She also writes about her love for the movie 9 to 5 as a young girl and how later she recognized the lessons it imparted about women in the workplace—influencing her own approach to valuing the role women play in their families and the workplace,
as a mother herself and an employer.

When she writes of the importance of being tenderhearted toward everyone’s entrepreneurial journey, she is writing from experience. A college dropout, Scott’s business education came via the Hat Box. The Hat Box was her first entrepreneurial venture. It was a failed one that taught her some tough lessons, lessons she would use as stepping stones to what Kendra Scott Jewelry would become.

In the last 20 years, Kendra Scott, the jewelry business that started in Scott’s spare bedroom, has become what one leadership seminar presenter called “the billion-dollar seat.” In a room filled with hopeful entrepreneurs (Scott included) looking to learn, the lecturer said one seat in the room was a billion-dollar seat. It was hers, but that seat cost her untold hours of hard work, risk-taking, soul searching, and the support of countless friends and family along the way. She is quick to point out that successful entrepreneurs are not lone wolves.

Born to Shine is an accessible read with a voice of candor and vulnerability that inspires readers to be themselves and be kind and that good things can happen despite challenges, detours, and imperfections. It all becomes part of the journey if you keep moving forward.

The 10 Takeaways

More than the stories and inspiration, the entire book is packed full of takeaways that can inspire every entrepreneur’s journey. Some are pulled out in large type, while others are seeded mid-paragraph to be discovered like hidden gems. Here are 10 of them:

  1. All work is meaningful and part of a purposeful life.
  2. Passion and purpose do not exist in a vacuum. They are fueled by the ways we engage with the world.
  3. There is no such thing as leaving life at the door.
  4. The right kind of investor can be rocket fuel for a brand.
  5. Successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who know what they don’t know and are experts in what they are not.
  6. You are only as good as the people you get advice from.
  7. To move on from any mistake, we must be able to own it—own it, learn from it, and move forward.
  8. Do your own thing. The minute you find yourself doing what everyone else is doing, you’ve already lost.
  9. Dare to think differently.
  10. Dream big or not at all.

Born to Shine, Kendra Scott, 272 pages, nonfiction,
Worthy Publishing, hardcover, $28

Rebecca French Smith

Rebecca French Smith is the publisher of Texas CEO Magazine.

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