There’s a new facet to Kendra Scott’s thriving jewelry business: real estate. Austin’s fashion maven, through her signature company Kendra Scott Design Inc., is ponying up some big bucks to advance the brand with a new corporate headquarters, new flagship store and a distribution warehouse.
The exact investment numbers weren’t disclosed by Lon Weingart, chief operating officer for Kendra Scott Design, but documents on file with the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration show that the build-out of distribution space in Southeast Austin is valued at $2.7 million and the tenant improvements for the 43,500-square-foot corporate headquarters at 3800 N. Lamar Blvd. are valued at $4.9 million.
Kendra Scott Design likely is sharing the costs with developers of both properties. Weingart acknowledged that it’s a major corporate investment. “This is a big expansion,” Weingart said. “We’ve been growing dramatically.”
Weingart said revenue for 2014 was about $75 million — stunning results, given that Scott began her empire with $500 in 2002.
Now her distinctive jewelry designs are carried by retail goliaths such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Like many top-tier designers, Scott now has her own line of boutiques in the trendiest neighborhoods around the country. More than 25 shops currently are open in chic retail centers from Boca Raton, Florida, to Newport Beach, California. Nearly 10 more are due to open soon, including one on storied Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
The workforce has swelled to about 650 employees, with some 160 of those in the corporate office. “We’ve just cross the line where we cannot execute efficiently in our current space. This will help us in the next few years,” Weingart said.
Kendra Scott’s first store and offices have been a mainstay at 1400 S. Congress Ave. Over the years, the company has cobbled together other space for distribution and an expanding workforce, but it became clear in the past two years that there had to an overarching plan.
The executive team hired consultants to determine what was necessary to support growth. A large warehouse became a priority.
A survey of existing distribution employees showed that most lived in South Austin, and real estate brokers John Childers and Zane Cole with JLL honed in on the new build at Expo Business Park not far from Burleson Road and Ben White Boulevard.
“This particular site is under construction and it was just more efficient for us to do something new,” Weingart said.
Trammell Crow Co. and Clarion Partners are the joint venture partners of Expo 11, which is part of the larger Expo Business Park. The developers are represented by Ace Schlameus, Mark Emerick, John Barksdale and Darryl Dadon of CBRE Group Inc. Kendra Scott will occupy about half of the building at 6213 E. Stassney Lane, having signed a 64,800-square-foot lease. The property should be ready in October.
Warehouse and distribution space generally are pretty mundane, but windows and views are a part of the equation here — another strong plus for employees. The property is 100 percent climate controlled. “Building 11 is located on a bluff and features nice vista views, which is unique for an industrial development,” Schlameus said.
Weingart said anticipation is high for the new corporate headquarters, which likely will be finished early next year. Employees that have been scattered among five or so locations will be consolidated on the fourth floor of the new Lamar Central mixed-use project at 3800 N. Lamar Blvd. Houston-based Highland Resources is the developer. A new 1,500-square-foot flagship store will open at that location, too, though Kendra Scott will retain its South Congress location.
Austin-based Sixthriver Architects is handling the design of the distribution and corporate space. Embree Group in Georgetown — a prominent national retail developer — handles the design and construction of all Kendra Scott stores across the country.