Kendra Scott's success story is one for the books: Pregnant and confined to bed rest, with a recently-unemployed husband and a meager bank balance, she began creating custom jewelry.
Once she was allowed back on her feet, Scott would walk around to Austin stores taking sales orders and then sell her samples to the very last shop on her route so that she'd have the funds to purchase supplies to fill them.
Eleven years later, Scott opened her fourth eponymous boutique (and the largest yet) in Rice Village this week, with others slated for CityCentre and Scottsdale, Ariz. — and she's revolutionizing the way that women shop for jewelry.
But the best part is, each wearer has the ability to tailor pieces to her personal tastes or a particular outfit at the Color Bar.
"I found that what was missing out there was colorful, beautiful jewelry using natural gemstones, at a price that I could afford," Scott says.
She and her design team lean on antique jewels and contemporary trends for inspiration to create pieces that are in vogue, on-brand and timeless — something that, Scott hopes, a granddaughter will pull out of a jewelry box decades hence.
But the best part is, each wearer has the ability to tailor pieces to her personal tastes or a particular outfit at the Color Bar. The Rice Village boutique is equipped with two 55-inch touch screens, a half-dozen iPads and even "bar menus" with images of products and options.
This makes each customer a part of the design process. They select the style, the stones and the metal, and then watch while a store clerk — all of whom are trained stone-setters — makes the design a reality.
"It's like Build-A-Bear for grown women," laughs Scott, who got the idea early on when her workers would customize the colors of their own jewelry pieces for a night out on the town.
She took that concept on the road for a trunk show at Henri Bendel in New York that was supposed to last just three days. It ended up attracting lines out the door for three months, and the Color Bar became a staple.
But the shopping isn't the only thing that is experiential: Kendra Scott boutiques are event driven, with the Color Bar available for booking for bridal brunches or girlfriend get-togethers, and a Girls Night Out each Wednesday that draws fashionable crowds for cupcakes, champagne and select jewelry deals.
Kendra Gives Back parties offer opportunities for an organization to benefit from 20 percent of proceeds. Attendees, meanwhile, can gild themselves and feel guilt-free about the indulgence.
The new Kendra Scott boutique is in Rice Village at 2411 Times Boulevard, Suite 120. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.