In fashion, there are moments when you're in and moments when you're out. It's clear where jewelry designer Kendra Scott stands.
"We're going through this growth, blow-up phase right now," said Scott, sitting at a table at Mozart's Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin Boulevard. "This past year, I've been holding on tight and enjoying everything."
This year, Scott has appeared on "The Rachael Ray Show." (She recently filmed a new segment about candy couture jewelry, which will air soon.) She was co-chairwoman and a sponsor for LEAP LifeWorks' annual White Party, which raised money for the Austin organization, and had a national jewelry competition in partnership with the People's Choice Awards. Her "Danielle" earrings have become a favorite among celebrities and Austin women.
Scott, a mother of two sons — Beck, 6, and Cade, who turns 9 today — spoke about how pursuing her childhood fashion dream, inspired by an aunt who was a fashion director for a department store, led her to designing jewelry. Today, her core values are guided by the things she loves: family, philanthropy and fashion.
Her fashionable start in Austin goes back to the mid-1990s, when Scott and her mom and stepfather, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer when Scott was 16, moved to Austin. Back then, she wanted to provide women with cancer some fashion options for their loss of hair.
Scott, who had grown up in a small town in Wisconsin, started the Hatbox in 1995 when she was 19, the year her stepfather died. She opened stores in Barton Creek Square and Highland Mall as well as an online store. (Scott's former store is not related to the Hatbox store in downtown Austin.) She sold and made a variety of hats for men and women, including pieces for hard-to-fit heads and specialized options for women undergoing cancer treatment.
"I'm so grateful I had those five years," Scott said about her time with the store.
By fall 2001, Scott, who had done a stint in magazine advertising, was making jewelry while on and off bed rest from her pregnancy with Cade. With the country unsettled by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it didn't seem like the ideal moment to start a new business, she said.
"That's when I came back to, 'I want to be in fashion and I want to do something good; and now I want to be a mom,'u2009" said Scott, who lives in Central Austin.
So she made samples to show Austin boutique owners. She carried the pieces in a tea box. At her last stop, the boutique Shiki, Scott sold her samples for about $1,000.
That's how Kendra Scott Design began.
On Saturday, Scott will add a milestone to her 8-year-old business's list of accomplishments: She'll open a flagship retail store on South Congress Avenue after years of selling at local boutiques such as Eliza Page and Adelante Boutique and retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Henri Bendel. Scott's jewelry can be described as colorful, trend-forward and modern takes on vintage pieces from the 1920s and '30s.
"I've been looking for space for years," said Scott as she sipped on a non-fat, decaffeinated latte. "I wanted my first store to be in Austin. I just said, 'I'm going to wait.' I wanted to be in the heart of where Austin is. I had really thought a long time about how I wanted the store to be. " (Scott already has a showroom in New York.)
By waiting, Scott, who's in her 30s, was able to find a jewel of a spot on SoCo near Perla's, By George and Service Menswear. Scott's store replaces Ann Kelso Salon and CitySpa.
The space was gutted and completely reconfigured to accommodate a jewelry store as well as a second floor with a design studio and offices for Scott and her employees. The store's mix of offerings will include Scott's bridal collection, updates on pieces from classic collections, custom engagement rings and fine jewelry. She also plans to use Austin as a testing ground for future jewelry before it's released to a national audience. She and her employees still handcraft design samples instead of using computer programs.
The first floor will include the literal translation of a feature on her website: the color bar, which allows online shoppers to design and customize jewelry that is usually shipped the same day it's ordered.
"People want to put their own personal mark on things," Scott said.
The in-store color bar will have a 9-foot wall of drawers filled with jewels.
"Instead of serving cocktails, we'll be serving jewels," said Scott, whose jewelry has been shown in magazines such as InStyle, Essence, Lucky and O, The Oprah Magazine. "Color is such a big part of our jewelry." And to prove her point, she later said, "We've never done a collection when there wasn't turquoise."
Overall, the store will change seasonally through color, and customers will get to have girls' night out events as well as private jewelry parties.
Scott will continue to sell her jewelry at Austin stores such as Eliza Page, Adelante, Anna Gray Gift and Jewelry Boutique, Unbridaled and Luxe Apothetique.
While she let go of millinery years ago, she might return to hats as she expands her brand. She's working on adding handbags, shoes and other accessories to the store, she said. Also in the works is an iPhone and iPad application for the color bar system.
In February, fans and friends will get to walk the pink carpet for the store's opening party.
The affair will be a tribute to color.
"If you have a pair of pink fuchsia heels, this is the night to wear them," Scott said.