Ai LIVE: Cheryl Mills Knight shares the success story of Kendra Scott
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez sits down with Cheryl Mills Knight, the Vice President of Brand and Strategic Priorities for Kendra Scott, a jewelry company. Thanks to her hard work, along with other talented individuals, Kendra Scott went from a local start-up selling wholesale, to a billion dollar brand.
Kendra Scott began in 2002 not long after the founder and namesake, Kendra Scott, had her first child. Scott wanted to create a business that allowed her to design in fashion, but also afforded her the flexibility to spend more time with her family. Knight joined the company in 2005 as part of the in-house marketing team. At the time, she had many skills that the fledgling company needed, such as graphic design, photography, and jewelry skills. Scott wanted in-house marketing so the company would have more flexibility in how they presented their jewelry.
As the company grew, there were three pillars that Scott focused her company around: family, fashion, and philanthropy, something Knight attributes to their success. In 2010, Kendra Scott opened its first store in Austin, TX. In addition to becoming a brand name, Scott wanted to give back to her community. She founded the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at the University of Texas, where Knight acts as a mentor to other women.
Part of what sets Kendra Scott apart as its own unique brand are the design principles they follow: color, shape, material, and value. Often, these elements tie a collection together. As there are limitations to working with gemstones and pieces of shell, the designers often work with those limitations and fuse these elements together to create a unique look.
But the biggest thing that sets Kendra Scott apart from other jewelers is the Color Bar. The Color Bar is an online and in-store experience where you can select your own design—from the color of the stones to the shape of the fitting—and create an extremely personal piece of jewelry. This experience got its start as a pop-up shop at Henri Bendel in 2009. What was supposed to be a weekend pop-up turned into a three-month stay, and a sign to Scott and Knight that this was something the jewelry world sorely needed. “It’s literally delightful,” Knight says.
With more and more businesses working in on social media, Knight acknowledges both the good and bad. While it allows for a connection to anyone at any time, it also has an air of permanence about it. “It’s the internet. Nothing ever goes away.” So she cautions about professionally posting with intent and purpose: “If you would be embarrassed to show your grandmother, you may be embarrassed to show the world.” While her advice might be lighthearted in nature, Knight believes that every post reflects back on the user, and that thought should always be given to how others perceive a social media post, creating a good, memorable experience.
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