Designing and merchandising jewelry isn’t Kendra Scott’s only purpose. Sure, the fashion and lifestyle brand has blossomed into a billion-dollar global business since it launched more than 15 years ago, but philanthropy and family have remained central to the company’s vision since day one.
We spoke with four team members to learn how Kendra Scott instills its philanthropic values in its employees and how that spirit of giving creates a family dynamic throughout the company.
EMPLOYEES: 1,661 (463 locally)
WHAT THEY DO: Kendra Scott is a fashion-lifestyle brand that offers jewelry, home décor and beauty, as well as a customizable jewelry experience.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin
CORE PILLARS: Family, fashion and philanthropy
NOTABLE PERKS: Flexible schedule, wellness and kids rooms, and complimentary manicures and pedicures for employees are just a few perks.
GIVING BACK: Along with offering each employee two paid philanthropy days each year, Kendra Scott donated $4.7 million to nonprofit organizations and nearly $10 million in-kind donations in 2017.
ENGINEERING CULTURE: At Kendra Scott, developing and delivering a healthy company culture is as important as building optimal technology. Learn more.
Millicent (Milli) Hawkins, Vice President of Change Management
As Kendra Scott transitions its enterprise system and infrastructure, Milli prepares every team for the changes in their day-to-day activities and roles.
BEYOND WORK: A self-described sneakerhead, Millie loves collecting colorful and limited-edition sneakers. She especially enjoys pairing patterned shoes with Kendra Scott’s jewelry designs.
What initially attracted you to Kendra Scott?
The energy that I felt when meeting several team members before I joined was intense and I knew I didn’t want to miss out on something special that was obviously happening. I was definitely excited about the fashion story of the brand and the growth, but the clincher for me was the people and how they worked so well with each other. With their talent and high energy, I knew I had to be here.
How has your experience here differed from your previous work experiences?
The balance between empowering individuals to work autonomously and knowing how and when to pool those individual strengths toward a collaborative, creative direction is really special. Plus, it’s always fun to look back and see what we’ve done together as a team. I’ve worked with some great companies and some pretty awesome teams, but I think at Kendra Scott there’s truly a concerted effort to celebrate each other and our successes, and to lift each other up when we get to those hurdles.
The energy that I felt when meeting several team members before I joined was intense and I knew I didn’t want to miss out on something special that was obviously happening."
What is a company perk that’s especially meaningful to you?
There are quite a few perks in the office, but truthfully what I enjoy the most are the occasional surprises that surface. Sweet thank-you notes, balloons or flowers for a milestone or achievement, or the occasional box of cookies for simply helping a teammate get through a deadline — there are so many random and selfless acts of kindness sprinkled throughout the office. It’s a sign that our culture of caring is always in place, and that’s what keeps me here.
Danay McKain, Director of Production
Danay oversees the bulk production for all product categories and manages new and current vendor relationships.
BEYOND WORK: Danay loves to travel. In the last year, she has visited monasteries in Tibet, seen the northern lights in Finland and toured the Champagne region of northern France.
How has Kendra Scott evolved since you joined as an intern seven years ago?
There were 10 people when I started and everyone had to wear different hats, but the passion was contagious. It has been interesting to see different departments come to life organically as the company has grown. For example, I started the production department in 2014 —before that, it had lived under merchandising and design. As the business grows, certain areas require more attention and resources and it is remarkable to see what this company has become and how a few people shaped it from the beginning – and the people who were here when I started are still here.
What types of professional or career development resources are available to employees?
We have had multiple leadership development programs from outside consultants that have really impacted me in a positive way. We can attend these courses alongside our peers and collaborate with each other on new ways to motivate and engage our teams. Training people to go from being individual contributors to strong leaders who can contribute through others is so critical, and Kendra Scott has recognized this and made leadership development a top priority.
It is remarkable to see what this company has become and how a few people shaped it from the beginning – and the people who were here when I started are still here."
Describe an activity that encourages camaraderie at Kendra Scott.
We celebrate Halloween in a big way. Every department dresses up in costumes and it is a day filled with tons of fun and very little work. Kendra has always loved Halloween (and always has the most amazing costumes), and it is one of my favorite days of the year for team bonding and letting loose.
Tiffany Wong, Merchandise Planner
Tiffany Wong manages the financial plans and inventory for all retail channels for several product categories, including fine jewelry, home, nail lacquer and jewelry accessories.
BEYOND WORK: Tiffany loves the variety of challenges and collective energy she experiences in spin class.
How do you support new employees when they join your team?
I establish a relationship up front so they feel comfortable enough to ask questions. Things move pretty fast and it can be overwhelming at first, but having people to lean on as resources made my onboarding much better, so I want that for anyone joining the team.
How is the culture at Kendra Scott more than just marketing-speak?
The phrase “work hard, play hard” could not be more relevant. We definitely have busy and hectic days, but we do find reasons to celebrate and treat ourselves whenever we can. It is a wonderful thing when our COO emails the entire office and gives us Friday off, just out of the blue, to “enjoy the beautiful weather.”
It is a wonderful thing when our COO emails the entire office and gives us Friday off, just out of the blue, to 'enjoy the beautiful weather.'”
Describe an activity that encourages camaraderie at Kendra Scott.
We recently went ax throwing as a team and most of us had never been, so it was a lot of fun learning a new skill together. As the night went on, some of us got better at it and some of us were less gifted. But overall, it was a great time — and a great stress reliever.
Ken Warner, Loss Prevention Analyst
Ken Warner identifies areas of loss through theft, natural disasters and operational errors, then creates best practices to insulate Kendra Scott from such loss in the future.
BEYOND WORK: Ken volunteers with the United States Coast Guard.
How does Kendra Scott differ from other places you have worked?
As a reservist in the United States Coast Guard, I have to drill one weekend a month and one two-week period every year. At my previous job, when I had to go to drill for two weeks, I had to rely exclusively on my volunteer paycheck from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. But when I came to Kendra Scott, the HR department asked what I needed or wanted them to do to support me – it was amazing. Kendra Scott now continues my full pay during my two-week drill, and if I’m ever called to active service, they will continue to compensate me during my time away. That’s family.
How do you support the philanthropic work of the company and how does the culture/brand of Kendra Scott inspire this work?
I was selected to be in the first class of the inaugural philanthropy committee. It’s designed to give employees a say in which charities the company money goes toward. We have some exciting products coming out soon that will have donations to charities tied directly to the sale of each of those items, and the philanthropy committee is diving in and finding those charities that we really want to help. This is going to make a very positive impact on some of the causes the Kendra Scott family cares deeply about.
Kendra Scott now continues my full pay during my [U.S. Coast Guard] drill, and if I’m ever called to active service, they will continue to compensate me during my time away. That’s family."
What values are held by Kendra Scott? Which of these values are especially important to you?
I’ve always enjoyed giving back. I have my family motto tattooed on my leg: "non nobis tantum nati," which in Latin means, “We are not born for ourselves alone.” Anyone can take 30 seconds out of their day to make someone else’s day just a little better – could you imagine the world we’d live in if everyone did just that? It’s great to work at a place where that value is taken seriously and actively encouraged.