Expanding Female-Focused Entrepreneurship Education: The Kickoff of the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute

On October 24, 2019, the new Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at UT Austin kicked off with its first programming piece — a workshop on Personal Branding: Communicating your Superpowers to the World.

The Kendra Scott Women’s Leadership Workshop Series is produced by the Blackstone LaunchPad at UT in close collaboration with the Kendra Scott philanthropic arm and with support from the College of Fine Arts.

The “LaunchPad” is a program of the School of Undergraduate Studies that helps students of all backgrounds navigate the UT entrepreneurship ecosystem. We do this by educating students on startup resources available on campus and beyond, offering physical space for coworking and small events, introducing students to mentors, and connecting them with LaunchPad-specific opportunities through external partners.

The goal of the first workshop was to build excitement amongst female students for the Spring 2020 rollout of the Institute through a teaser event that was fun, engaging, and kickstart student interest in learning more about personal branding — communicating one’s unique values and strengths to position oneself as a leader in work and in life.

We wanted students to walk away feeling confident and affirmed with an introduction to the soft tools of female mentorship, inspirational stories, and knowledge of the some of resources provided by UT’s many career services teams (7 schools were represented).

The workshop took place at the Kendra Scott Home Office on North Lamar Blvd with over 200 students from all 14 schools in attendance. The top four schools represented were…

There were two shuttles running from campus to the Kendra Scott Home Office and back during the 3-hour event and facilitated by volunteers from student groups Orange Jackets and Texas Blazers.

Programmatically, the workshop revolved around two panels with female leaders and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds sharing their insights on personal branding and leadership.

The first panel included Mindy Perry (CMO at Kendra Scott), Liz Matthews (Senior Vice President Global Brand & Experiential at Dell), Erin Condren (Founder of Erin Condren Design), and moderated by Cheryl Mills Knight (VP of Brand & Innovation at Kendra Scott).

The second panel included Raeka Panda (Founder of Raeka Beauty), Evelyn from the Internets (Humor Writer & Digital Storyteller), Rochelle Rae (Founder of Rae Cosmetics), and moderated by Nina Ho (Assistant Director of the LaunchPad).

Some of the topics covered by the speakers included the value of mentorship (the importance of reaching out to others for career and life advice), self-awareness (and the practices that can help one get there), and the intersectionality of the entrepreneurial journey (how gender, race, and age biases can affect one’s experience in starting a company).

Beyond the panels, a highlight for students — aside from free food and drinks from Torchy’s Tacos, Tiny Pies, La Patisserie, Richard’s Rainwater, and Hayley’s Cakes and Cookies — were one-on-one mentoring sessions from female employees from the Kendra Scott team and 8 members of Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, DWEN, an initiative that supports local chapters of female business owners by helping them leverage Dell’s resources.

The workshop also had 7 “activation stations” ranging from free headshots, a makeup booth, skincare station, calendar and notebook personalization (donated by panelist Erin Condren), tote bag screen printing (provided by the Institute’s technology partner Dell Technologies), and the LaunchPad (educating students on the entrepreneurship resources available to them on campus and beyond).

Gloria Akinnobosun, a second year double major in Marketing and African & African Diaspora Studies, shared her thoughts on the experience,

“I think it’s phenomenal that we’re finally being given the space to explore, dive into our creative side, and just be the leaders we were born to be.”

The upcoming Spring 2020 workshops will be hosted in the Doty Fine Arts Building in the Co-op Fine Arts Student Center — the soon-to-be physical home of the Institute. Renovations begin Summer 2020.

To learn more about upcoming workshops as well as other programming of the new Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, visit ksinstitute.utexas.edu.

Helping students of all backgrounds navigate and explore #entrepreneurship @UTAustin. Learn more at www.launchpad.utexas.edu.