Why Philanthropy Will Always Be at the Core of the Kendra Scott Brand

As the woman behind Kendra Scott’s creative strategy, Katie Marston dedicates her work to building Kendra and her brand’s strength on an international scale through the reinforcement of Kendra Scott’s founding pillars: Family, Fashion and Philanthropy. Her main goals? To connect on a genuine, personal level with the consumer through fashion and always find a way to make a positive difference. 

Kendra Scott founded her company in 2002 with only $500 and just after the birth of her first son. Seeing herself as a mom first, she was driven to create a work culture unlike any others in the industry. To Kendra, it was just as important to tuck her kids into bed at night as it was to become a leader in the business world. And she made it her priority to hire individuals with those same family values, making the “Family First” mindset a crucial part of the Kendra Scott work culture. Kendra Scott’s three core pillars built a strong foundation that has led the company to incredible growth and success, and set an example that other companies are eager to follow. 

But for Marston, another priority has become just as essential to the company’s future: Telling the story of Kendra herself. Many brands’ founders fade into the background and let the business become the focus. But Kendra, as lead designer, founder and CEO of Kendra Scott, LLC, remains at the heart of every aspect of her company’s growth. From the design of a new collection and visits to her growing number of stores, to philanthropic partnerships on local and national levels, the Kendra Scott brand continues to be the actualization of Kendra’s personal vision.

Kendra Scott began designing jewelry in the spare bedroom in her Austin home. She was inspired to craft the jewelry she wanted to wear, jewelry that she says “filled the void between high-end brands and pieces that would fall apart after a few wears.” She walked, with her baby on her hip, selling her jewelry door to door to the local boutiques in Austin. When she sold out of her first collection in her first day, she knew she was onto something special. “Although to this day I don’t know if it’s because they really liked my jewelry, or they just felt sorry for me!” Kendra jokes. Kendra Scott has made a name for herself in the fashion industry through her impactful designs, which evolve alongside the world of fashion and provide customers with high value product at an accessible price.

Kendra’s desire to give back is in her bones. When she was 19, Scott began a company called Hat Box. Inspired by her stepfather’s own battle with cancer, the store was focused on using the proceeds to raise money for cancer research. That philanthropic business focus followed her into her next venture, Kendra Scott jewelry, and has become a genuine and differentiating factor for the company. Kendra Scott lives by the belief that there is always something to give, and is driven to “do good” and make a positive difference in the world through her business.

"Kendra Scott lives by the belief that there is always something to give, and is driven to 'do good.'”

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It was that unique approach to business that first caught Katie Marston’s attention when she joined the company nearly two years ago. “Philanthropy was not merely an add-on. They weren’t following a corporate giving model,” Marston said. “Giving back was the heart of the Kendra Scott brand, bringing life and loyalty to the business in a way no other brand could match. And I knew I had to be a part of it.” 

As Kendra Scott’s VP of Marketing, Marston has identified a few key points to consider when developing your company’s giving initiatives. First, and most important, is a genuine passion for giving back. For Kendra, that passion came from her stepfather Rob, who spoke the message “You Do Good” to her during his battle with brain cancer.

“Because of Rob,” says Scott, “I was inspired to create a business that did something more, that gave back to the community in real, meaningful ways.” It’s this incredible dedication to philanthropy that has become a hallmark of the Kendra Scott culture. “‘You do good’ aren’t just words; it’s a motto I carry into all choices throughout my business.” 

“I was inspired to create a business that did something more, that gave back to the community in real, meaningful ways.”

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Katie Marston echoes Kendra’s passion for philanthropy, and explains how this key part of their business has strengthened the company in a powerful way. “A philanthropic element to business can inspire fierce customer loyalty, but it has to be authentic,” Marston explains. “People want to support companies that care about what they care about. That’s why we value the grassroots connection so highly.” 

This hits on another mantra of the Kendra Scott company: “What Matters to You Matters to Us.” Whether it’s donating jewelry to a silent auction at a local school, hosting fundraising events in our store for a neighbor in need, or participating in a walk for a local organization, Kendra Scott believes there is always something to give. “We genuinely care for our customers and the causes they care about,” Marston says. “As a company, we believe that giving back in our communities is the greatest way to make a difference.” 

"As a company, we believe that giving back in our communities is the greatest way to make a difference.” 

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With the opening of every new Kendra Scott store, there is a team dedicated to getting involved with the community on the ground level, researching and figuring out how to get involved with local organizations. Scott admits, “It’s certainly not the easiest business model to follow, but philanthropy has become an integral part of who we are. And the relationships we have built with our customers as a result are truly invaluable.” 

Today, Kendra Scott partners with thousands of philanthropic organizations nationwide through her Kendra Gives Back program, which just last year gave back $1.4 million and donated over 50,000 pieces of jewelry. On a national scale, Kendra Scott supports The Seton Breast Cancer Care Center, MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, and the National Down Syndrome Congress. 

To learn more be sure to check out Katie Marston on panel when she joins us at #CreateCultivateATL.