Kendra Scott started her jewelry company in 2002 with just $500.
Kendra, that is. Scott, the founder and CEO of her eponymous jewelry and home decor brand, enters the aggressive waters of ABC’s “Shark Tank” Friday (8 EDT/PDT) as the only female Season 12 guest shark.
She joins regulars Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and Kevin O’Leary on Friday’s episode.
Just this month, Scott landed at No. 47 on Forbes’ list of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women” with a reported net worth of $510 million, putting her ahead of Beyoncé, Ellen DeGeneres and Taylor Swift.
Scott, 46, says she started her business in a 10-by-11-foot spare bedroom in 2002. With her firstborn sonCade beside her, then just a few months old, Scott filled orders she’d sold after carrying her samples in a tea box to boutiques in Austin, Texas.
“I actually sold all of my samples to the last store I went to so that I’d have enough money to pay for the supplies for the orders I had written that day,” she says.
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Entrepreneur Kendra Scott appears as a guest shark on “Shark Tank,” Friday, Oct. 23. (Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC)
“My mom brought over some folding card tables that I could use to put all my stones and beads out,” she says. “I had a little bead board, some tools, and a board up on the wall with my three orders that felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the greatest thing ever!’ And it literally just took off from there.”
But Scott’s path to success hasn’t always been paved with gold. At 19, she opened a hat store that shuttered after five years. She calls the business her “greatest gift” and jokingly refers to the experience as her “MBA in retail and in business.”
O’Leary, a main shark since the show’s debut in 2009, sees the value in Scott’s experience with defeat.
“What I like about her is – and you’ll find this in many successful entrepreneurs – she had failure first,” he says. “She went through the bitterness of” closing her hat store, he says, “and failing, and all the connotations of that, and that motivated her to do what she did. She found greatness and built a billion-dollar-plus business, and when you have that experience, that’s DNA inside you…”
O’Leary warns the sharks are competitive for newcomers. “So if you can’t stand up for yourself, you’re gonna get eaten alive, but she was pretty good,” he says. “She got right into it.”
O’Leary, known as “Mr. Wonderful,” says Scott described herself as “a velvet hammer,” which she says means she’s “sweet and nice on the outside, but I got some hammer in me.”
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Mark Cuban, far left, Kendra Scott and Kevin O’Leary hear pitches in the “Shark Tank.” (Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC)
Supporting other female entrepreneurs motivated Scott to wade into the tank. On Friday’s episode she excitedly shouts “Girl power!” during Elly Gheno’s pitch for her intimates subscription service, BootayBag. Upon hearing of the brand’s $3 million in sales this year, Scott throws her hands in the air.
“Amen, sister! You’re amazing!” she praises. “That’s amazing!” “What you have created with $300, how you have harnessed the power of social media. You’re creating a movement around your brand, which is so unbelievable.”
In addition to being introduced to BootayBag, Scott and the sharks are pitched portable oatmeal balls GoOats, biodegradable doggy clean up Pooch Paper and P-nuff Crunch, a snack made with peanuts, navy beans, and brown rice.
Although she felt welcomed by the sharks, Scott couldn’t help but feel nerves in the tank hearing her first pitch.
“My stomach was flipping, my hands were probably shaking,” she says. “It’s a pretty intimidating space to be in, with a very tense group of powerful sharks.” As taping in a Las Vegas studio went on, she felt “more and more comfortable” and by quitting time, she wasn’t ready for the experience to end.
“It was literally a pinch-me moment, and one I will never forget,” she says. “I’ll always cherish that memory, for sure.”
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