Last weekend I attended a conference where Kendra Scott, founder of the jewelry empire Kendra Scott Design, was speaking. Kendra Scott’s company was recently valued at $1 Billion, up from $1.6 Million only six years ago, according to the conference emcee. Obviously, she’s doing something right, so us audience members all listened intently to learn what made Kendra’s business so successful.
Her secret sauce? Core values.
Given that over the last few weeks I’ve sent a few emails about this very topic, I thought I’d share some highlights from Kendra’s speech. (You can read my two emails here and here.)
Kendra said she was bullied in junior high, back when she was “a nerd.” For example, she wanted to run for student council and all of the cool girls, who were also running, told her she couldn’t. They’d tear down her posters and she would come behind and replace them each, always “with a poster more sparkly and glittery than the last.” She discovered through this process that “no” was a motivator for her and inspired her to try harder, because, after all, (golden nugget alert) “NO is ON backwards.”
The hurt of being bullied has resonated with Kendra throughout her life, and in an effort to surround herself with good people, she only hires people who fit her core values: family, fashion, and philanthropy. Kendra says core values are the heart and soul of her success, and, “if you don’t focus on core values you end up hiring b**ches and you can’t take the b**ch out of someone.”
Kendra doesn’t wait for good people to come to her, either. She says right away you can tell if someone shares your values and is a superstar. When she meets those people, whether at the grocery store or a restaurant, she invites them to come and work for her. She can teach them retail, she says, but she can’t teach them to be a superstar or believe in her values – that all has to come naturally.
Kendra also says she’s so successful because her people work hard, and they work hard because they’re appreciated and respected. For example, family is important to her, and so she respects and appreciates everyone else’s family. She blocks time to pick up her kids from school every single day, Mondaythrough Friday, and she gets angry when she hears of others sacrificing their family for work. If your kid is sick, she expects you to stay home and care for him.
She shared that once she was touring her stores, and met a retail clerk who said she was scared to tell her manager she was pregnant. Shocked and hurt, Kendra asked why. The clerk said she was afraid she would lose her job, but when she finally did tell the manager, the manager was super excited and actually threw her a party. All of the clerk’s peers have been extremely supportive of her, and of course the clerk loves working at Kendra Scott. Kendra told her, “Be a good mom, and if you want a career I will help you have that too.” What kind of loyalty do you think that employee has for her employer?
Kendra reiterated several times throughout her speech that you have to hire people who fit your core values in order for your business to flourish. “If you want to be successful,” she said, “no bullies and no b**ches.”