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Millionaire entrepreneur dazzles UT Austin with new women's leadership institute

Millionaire entrepreneur dazzles UT Austin with new women's institute

Kendra Scott UT
Kendra Scott made the announcement at Bass Concert Hall on September 24. Getty Images for Kendra Scott
UT Kendra Scott Insitute
The institute will be located in the Doty Fine Arts Building. Courtesy rendering
Kendra Scott UT
UT Kendra Scott Insitute

One Austin entrepreneur is graduating from showrooms to classrooms. On September 24, Kendra Scott and the University of Texas at Austin announced the creation of the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) Institute, a multi-disciplinary program designed to empower women in business.

The institute will be offered beginning in the upcoming spring 2020 semester, and include programming "uniquely built to address the challenges women often face in business," though it will be open to all students regardless of gender identity, according to a press release.

As part of the offerings, WEL will include women’s leadership workshop series, leadership training and mentoring, various speakers, and campus-wide venture funding opportunities, and UT will host the Change the World Women’s Leadership Summit. The workshop series will begin October 24 with a discussion on personal branding for female entrepreneurs.

It will also partner with different schools to offer classes and seminars as part of the new initiative such as:

  • McCombs School of Business will offer a Kendra Scott Consumer Products Entrepreneurship Practicum
  • College of Natural Sciences will offer an experiential accessories design and merchandising course
  • College of Fine Arts will offer the Kendra Scott Studio Partnership, including a seminar course and visit to the Kendra Scott headquarters

“Together with The University of Texas, we are creating a program focused on redefining leadership and entrepreneurship through a gender-enlightened lens,” Scott said in a release. “With this institute, we want to create a pipeline of courageous, creative female leaders who will shatter stereotypes of what an entrepreneur should look like, and will challenge the rulebooks that have governed the business world for generations.”

The Austin-based Scott began creating jewelry in her spare bedroom in 2002, eventually leveraging it into a billion-dollar company by 2019. Today, Kendra Scott is sold online and in more than 600 boutiques across the world, as well as in major department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's, and the brand's flagship store on South Congress. With a reported net worth of $550 million, Scott recently claimed the No. 40 spot on Forbes' 2019 tally of America's richest self-made women.

UT president Gregory Fenves says these bona fides and more made Scott the best choice to create the curriculum.

"It is an honor to partner with Kendra Scott — one of the most creative and dynamic entrepreneurs in the country — to empower and inspire the next generation of women CEOs, founders and innovators, right here on the Forty Acres," he said in the release.

Fenves joined Scott, along with Freida Pinto, attorney/The Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay, and country singer Cam on September 24 to discuss details of the new curriculum and unveil renderings of the institute's new students creative center, which will open in the Doty Fine Arts Building next fall.