As Kendra Scott steps down from her role as CEO, her philanthropic efforts step up.
By Madelyn Geyer, Photo courtesy of Kendra Scott
Leadership changes within a large company arrive with a sense of apprehension. Picture this: the founder and CEO of 20 years, who grew the company exponentially, hands off the CEO reigns in a time of economic instability. Anyone would be a little nervous—especially investors, employees and regular customers. But Kendra Scott, founder of the eponymous Austin-based jewelry company, feels no apprehension as company president, Tom Nolan, steps in as the new CEO. “Tom has been at my side at Kendra Scott for seven years now, leading with the same compassion that I’ve strived to lead with since founding the company in 2002,” Scott says. “Together we have overseen exponential growth for the company. Especially during this past year where we managed to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and take the business to new heights.”
Face and Heart of Kendra Scott
Scott assures those with doubts that though no longer the CEO, she “remain[s]the executive chairwoman, majority owner, founder and face of the brand.” She’s not only the face of the brand, but the heart. Since beginning her business, Scott has used her success as a platform to give back in a meaningful way. Her powerful commitment to philanthropy is a core pillar of the business. With Nolan leading day-to-day operations, Scott can focus on growing the massive philanthropic efforts of the brand.
In this billion-dollar company, the intricate design of a necklace is just as important as supporting women, children and young female entrepreneurs in the Austin community. In her new role, Scott “looks forward to devoting more time to giving advice to and leading our efforts with the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at UT. Through initiatives like our newly launched grant with Active Minds, I am passionate about advocating for programs, policies and funding that can improve—and possibly save—lives of those affected by mental health obstacles.”
Philanthropy from Tragedy
The latest philanthropic efforts were tinged with sadness when tragedy struck Austin in the early evening of Jan. 26, 2021. A hostage situation at Children’s Medical Group claimed the lives of two people. One of those lives was pediatrician Dr. Lindley Dodson. “[She] was a leader in our hometown and a fierce advocate and friendly face for the children that live here,” Scott reflects. The entire Kendra Scott family felt the loss of Dr. Dodson, as she cared for many of their children.
Kendra Scott donated 100% of all proceeds of the brand’s Everlyne bracelet suite to The Lindley Dodson Education Foundation, a fund established to support the future education of Dr. Dodson’s children Shaw, Tucker and Loretta. “She was always there for our families,” Scott remembers. “We felt it was our responsibility to be there for hers in the wake of the most terrible news. In the face of this tragedy, the best thing we could do is what we always do. Show up for our community. We hope that the support we are lending will help make a difference for Dr. Dodson’s children in the future and keep her memory in all of our hearts.”
It’s rare to find a company honoring philanthropy right alongside their core product and customer experience. No doubt Scott’s success stems from her stunning collections, but her heart for her community makes each piece of jewelry as precious as the gems inlaid in the metal. As the now former CEO, what does she want her legacy to be? “My time as CEO may have come to a close, but the legacy of Kendra Scott is still being written,” Scott says. “This brand, this company, is at an integral point of growth. I am excited to take that on with Tom by my side. But looking ahead, I cannot wait to get to work propelling our brand to that next great place of success.”