I’ve had a girl crush on Kendra Scott for longer than I’ll ever admit. She’s absolutely beautiful from the inside out, and has become an incredible inspiration for women in business from all four corners of the globe. We recently picked her brain on how she built such a successful, well, empire (if you will) and we naturally took diligent notes.

1. Let Go of the “What if’s” and Go For It!

If you’re ready to take the leap and start your own business, then go for it! Don’t let your mind be bogged down by the negative “what if’s” prompted by the naysayers inside your head and around you. “What if” will keep you from opportunities that may bring joy and passion into your life – it is the dream stealer that will forever procrastinate your vision, if you let it. That kind of mindset will hinder you from making decisions.

Once you take “what if” out of your vocabulary, take inventory and move into action! I started my business by removing those negative thoughts from my mind, surrounding myself with those who believed in my vision and by never taking “no” for an answer. Inevitably, your idea will be knocked down, and people will tell you “no,” but learning to quickly pick back up and move on is such a valuable habit to begin. If I had listened to all of the “no’s” I received, I would have given up long ago and never seen my business thrive into the brand it is today. When someone does say “no” – think of it merely as a suggestion and an invitation to get creative. Adopting this attitude will get you to places you never even dreamed of being!

2. Find the White Space in the Market

Once you’ve decided to turn your passion into a product or service, become familiar with the industry you’re going into and seek the white space in that market. What is the industry lacking? What could you provide that no one else is providing? Once you find that white space, it will give you your wings to soar. I started my business because my family was going through a hard economic time and rather than dwell on it, I decided to go on a whim and pursue my passion for jewelry making. I looked for a white space in the jewelry market and saw that there weren’t very many brands creating gorgeous, handcrafted jewelry with a focus on color for an attainable price point, so I went for it and never looked back! We have a significant concept that truly differentiates us, and that’s our Color Bar™. An in-store and online experience, the KENDRA SCOTT Color Bar™ allows our customers to play designer and choose from a kaleidoscope of 26 stones and 23 silhouettes in both gold and silver to create the exact piece they want for themselves or a loved one.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help & Always Be Gracious

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to always ask for help! Doing so is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Throughout my business career, I’ve learned that personal connections can lead to opportunities and people actually enjoy lending a helping hand. I know this is true because I’ve been on both sides of it. There is always someone out there who has been in the same situation or dealt with a similar challenge that you are currently facing. Seek that person out and ask for advice! It’s also important to realize what your personal strengths and weaknesses are and to seek help in the areas that you lack. The greatest leaders in the world recognize what they are good at and also know where they need guidance and help from others… that is why they are successful!

On the other side of this, always remember to be nice and appreciative to everyone your path may cross on this exciting journey. When building a brand, you will be going a mile a minute, but it is so important to take the time to thank each and every person who helps you in any way and to always be kind, even to those naysayers. A simple thank you, whether in verbal form or written in a thank you note can go a very long way. Giving recognition to those who have helped you throughout your journey is also immensely important. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many mentors, helpers and teachers that I sought out and fate put in my path.

4. Build a Winning Team

When your brand begins to grow, hiring the right people to continue your vision is so important. It’s vital to find the people who not only have the talent and skill you’re looking for, but who fit your unique company culture and passion for your budding brand. As a business owner, I have learned that the ability to choose your team is a gift. If I could give advice to any other business owners, it would be to exercise that right and be picky. Your team and your partners become an extension of your family, and one that you’ll likely be spending hours on end with, so choose wisely.

One of the reasons my business has grown exponentially in the past few years is because of the team I now have, but the ability to find such an incredible team developed over time. I had to learn to truly communicate and define my company values carefully, and find people that would have the same purpose in mind while bringing their own unique talents and strengths into the mix. As a team, our biggest goals are about the brand itself…not for people to only wear our jewels, but to be involved and recognize our brand as something they want to be a part of. We all share the same mindset of being a positive, personable brand providing incredible customer service, and building a company formed on the foundations of “Family, Fashion, Philanthropy.”

5. Give Back

My final piece of advice for building a brand is to make giving back the heart of everything you do. You couldn’t have gotten where you are without the help and support of the people and the community around you, and it is so important to recognize that and do all you can to give back in a meaningful way. As a pillar in the Kendra Scott philosophy of “Family, Fashion, Philanthropy”, giving back has been a part of the foundation of my company from the very beginning. Personally, I see giving back in a meaningful way as the true mark of success and what makes me the most proud is the fact that we’ve stayed committed to our three core values throughout our growth. From our Issie Heart Collection benefitting the National Down Syndrome Congress to our Lolley Necklace benefitting Seton Breast Care Center, we are dedicated to giving back and supporting causes that are near to our hearts. Our stores are also extremely involved in giving back within their communities, hosting “Kendra Gives Back” parties in which a portion of proceeds benefits a particular cause, and donating jewelry to raise money for a number of philanthropies. As a team, we also actively engage in philanthropic efforts throughout the year. Establishing philanthropy as one of our core values has not only enabled us to give back to the people who helped make us a successful brand, but it has also allowed our company culture to thrive with happiness, positivity and a true sense of pride.

Photography: Kelly Rucker | Photography: Suzi Q