Kendra Scott found her new partner.
Private equity firm Berkshire Partners acquired a minority stake in Scott’s hot Austin-based accessories brand, bringing to close one of the more closely watched auctions in fashion.
WWD reported Dec. 8 that Scott was drawing the interest of big-name investors in a Jefferies-run auction that could potentially value the company near $1 billion. The final sale price was not disclosed and sources close to the process could not immediately be reached.
The brand, which mixes accessible accessories with social-media savvy and a philanthropic bent, is something that’s become a rare commodity on the fashion dealmaking scene — a growth story. Investors are always keen on companies that have a proven customer base and plenty of room to expand.
Kendra Scott has more than 50 doors and a core base of strength in Texas and Oklahoma, along with a presence at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Von Maur and more than 600 specialty boutiques globally. The company was said to have been looking for additional funds to help it expand toward the coasts and to get into other categories.
Scott, who founded the company with $500 in a spare bedroom in 2002, will continue on as majority shareholder and chief executive officer and the firm’s leaders will remain in their current positions. Norwest Venture Partners, which bought a stake in the business in 2014, will continue to hold a minority stake.
Norwest and Scott were said by sources to be the sellers in the process.
“Kendra and her team have built an authentic brand that is widely loved,” said Marni Payne, a managing director at Berkshire Partners. “The company’s deep focus on its customers, commitment to product innovation and culture of giving back has led to impressive growth. We look forward to partnering with Kendra and her team to support their continued success.”
Scott, who has 464,000 followers on Instagram and clearly the attention of the financial set, has been raising her profile lately.
She sketched out her story for the crowd at a WWD forum event last year.
“Farmers and coal miners are my family in Kenosha, Wis. At seven years of age in a blue-collar community, I saw the magic of fashion,” she said, noting her aunt was a buyer at a local department store. “I went to school for business and marketing, but I had the fashion bug.”
At 19, she opened a shop called The Hat Box. The store was shuttered, but she bounced back.
And big time.
In addition to accessories, the brand sells home goods and nail polish. A program dubbed Color Bar helps engage consumers in stores and online by letting them craft personalized jewelry.
Prices vary, with rose gold pendant necklaces selling at $65, pavé diamond and yellow gold earnings at $750 and a cuff bracelet in pavé diamond and yellow gold for $1,500.
Scott said on Wednesday of her new investor, “Berkshire has significant experience in helping leading brands maximize their potential and a deep appreciation for the Kendra Scott culture and organization.”
The investment firm has made more than 115 investments since 1986 with more than $16 billion in aggregate capital commitments. Its other retail investments have included Aritzia, Bare Escentuals, Carter’s and Party City.