Noteworthy Women

Encouraging and Empowering Remarkable Women

Author: mnavarro

Kendra Scott—The Empire Builder

Kendra Scott is a passionate designer, CEO and philanthropist who believes in the power of giving back, a characteristic evident since the start of her career which began with a hat company dedicated to patients of chemotherapy. With true entrepreneurial spirit, Kendra knew that to be successful would require far more than just hats. It was in 2002 that she launched Kendra Scott Design out of her own home in Austin, Texas with a mere $500. Her creative mind and zest for opportunity led her to design her first-ever jewelry collection accented with natural gemstones. This $500 project is now an empire worth an estimated $1 billion. The Kendra Scott brand is globally loved and recognized and any Kendra Scott design is known for its timeless appearance, unique color and quality materials.

How does one build such an empire? Kendra Scott was featured on NPR’s How I Built ThisShe talks about growing up around her fashionable aunt and being inspired by her closet. This inspiration is what sparked her to launch her hat company, The Hat Box, at a time when her step father was being treated for cancer. Her dream of hats becoming the newest and hottest trend was overridden by reality. After a few years and the loss of her step father to cancer, Kendra closed The Hat Box and swore she’d never enter retail again.

Kendra married in 2000 and had her first son in 2001. The birth of her son is what encouraged Kendra to get back into the fashion industry however she knew she wanted her next venture to have a mission just as important as The Hat Box. Kendra always had a passion for design and it was when she was pregnant she found the ideal market—although clothes and shoes would fit one day and not the next, jewelry was always there to make her feel beautiful. Delving into this idea, she realized beautiful, semiprecious jewelry was unattainable and too pricey for regular folk. She wanted to change that. After a few basic classes in jewelry design, Kendra designed her first collection with tools given to her by her mother and a few hundred dollars worth of supplies. She promised her husband she’d bring home $1000 from her first collection. She took her son door to door with her as she tried to sell her designs to stores in Austin, Texas.

She made $1200 that day with four orders waiting to be produced.

In no time at all, Kendra Scott Design was a profitable company. Her first big break was worth $74, 000. “Fake it till you make it” was Kendra’s motto during this time; no one knew she was working out of her spare bedroom. After more major sales, Kendra was in New York City trying to attain business in a major NYC showroom. Weeks went by following the pitch and she hadn’t heard a thing. One day she received the call saying the showroom wanted to carry her line. The following market season, Kendra Scott jewelry was being carried in Nordstrom.

6 employees and finally an office space later, Kendra decided (in contrast to her famous last words) that the next step would be to open a retail store. At this time, her marriage had ended and she was a single mother to two sons. The support she received from her family gave her the encouragement she needed
to open a brick and mortar store. Today, with more than 19 boutiques and her line available in over 800 stores, it’s safe to say Kendra Scott was made for retail.

Her philanthropy ties back to her designs. She designs certain lines as a way to give back to society (all of which can be found on her blog). Whether its Habitat for Humanity or Girls on the Run, Kendra always manages to give much greater importance to her work. She is the epitome of a true noteworthy woman.

Feature Friday: Misty Copeland

In a world preoccupied by categories and labels, Misty Copeland shines as a leading example to women around the world to fight stereotypes and define who you are by your own terms.

Copeland made history by becoming the first African American Principal dancer with the renowned American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

(Photo by Henry Leutwyler)

However, this was no easy feat. The story of Copeland’s discovery of dance encompasses immense struggles. Living in a motel room with her five other siblings and single mother, Copeland stumbled upon ballet at the late age of thirteen and instantly fell in love. Her newest passion gave her the voice she never had. However, it was no secret that Copeland didn’t fit the industry’s image of the ideal ballerina. She didn’t fit the mold. “I’m black,” she says, and “I have a large chest, I’m muscular.”

“It’s important for me to set an example of what a healthy image is, what a ballerina can be. That she doesn’t have to be a white woman that is real thin. She could look like the world.”

-Misty Copeland

Influencers like Raven Wilkinson, known as the first African American woman to dance in a major classical ballet company,  became Copeland’s motivation and served as a beacon of hope that dreams for an African American to dance professionally were possible.

Copeland knew she could help eradicate the stereotypes asserted to ballerinas as tall, thin, white women and show that with the right work ethic and support group, any dream is possible. Her tenacity and dedication is what has driven Copeland to question the industry’s ideals and change the face of ballet as we know it.

Her rise to fame began with ballet. But Copeland has since become the face of Under Armour‘s “I Will What I Want” campaign with a commercial that has garnered over 9 million views to date and was named on TIME’S 100 for 2015.

In all her endeavors, Copeland brings to life the beauty in diversity and having that shown on stage and in all things. In 2015, Copeland was given the opportunity to debut in “Swan Lake” with the Washington Ballet as Odile/Odette, the leading role. Her partner, Brooklyn Mack, who is also African American played the lead male role of Prince Siegfried. The two entirely uprooted the ideals of one of the most traditional ballets of all time.


“Having two African Americans dancing together seems to provide a fresh take on this classic while challenging traditional notions of what a ballerina and principal male dancer should look like in the classical canon.”- Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre


Copeland’s book Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina is yet another platform used to help motivate other individuals struggling with stereotyping. Additionally, her autobiographic film A Ballerina’s Tale recalls one of the most difficult times in the dancer’s life when she experienced six fractures in her shin and worried she’d never be able to dance again. Her drive to keep fighting was ignited not only by her personal passion, but the realization that she is a role model for all who are fighting for a dream come true.


Follow Copeland on Instagram  to keep up-to-date with her latest ventures.



Female Students Stand Up Against Campus Sexual Assault

When people think of college they think of care-free students having the time of their lives, meeting people, partying and taking classes somewhere in the midst of all that. Few people associate college with the risk of being sexually assaulted. However, that is changing as victims of sexual assault take a stand and fight to change the stigma attached to reporting cases of sexual assault.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  •  One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college
  •  More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault
  • 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes

In most cases, victims of sexual assault often bury their secret for fear of shame, embarrassment and being labelled. But all this does is leave perpetrators free to continue committing sexual assault and having countless others fall victim to their behavior.

The 2015-documentary, The Hunting Ground, serves as a monumental exposé of rape culture on college campuses. The film encompasses personal stories of sexual assault victims who speak of the initial attack, the horrifying days and months that followed and the countless attempts to find justice.

The film brings to life the mission of two rape survivors who were determined to stand up against sexual assault. Annie Clark,  who was sexually assaulted before her classes even began at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Andrea Pino, who was also raped at the UNC- Chapel Hill campus during her second year, were brought together following their shared experiences of sexual assault as well as the lack of support and the mistreatment that came from university administration following report of the crimes.

Andrea Pino and Annie Clark

The film narrows in on universities reactions to reports of sexual assault, that their concern isn’t the student victim but the institution’s reputation. If cases of sexual assault are exposed then this increases the risk of detracting potential applicants from the university. And often, these universities are the biggest and most reputable ones in the nation. This results in university administration downplaying cases and often blaming victims as the cause of the problem.

After countless failed attempts to seek justice through the school and see attackers expelled, Andrea and Annie focused on researching everything to do with sexual assault. It was then they became familiar with Title IX. They started building a network of young women committed to raising awareness about rape on college campuses. After they filed their own Title IX complaint against UNC-Chapel Hill, this prompted a series of federal investigations into the college’s policy towards reports of sexual assault. This has resulted in much change within their college and began a ripple effect at other universities as they shared with other women and rape victims how to file their own Title IX complaints against their universities.

Together, Andrea and Annie have founded End Rape on Campus, which provides support and education to survivors and their communities. They have also released a book, We Believe in You, that features stories from 36 people of different backgrounds who experienced sexual assault on campus.

“Survivors have many different faces — they are men, they are women, they are folks in between — and they are people after their experiences” – Pino.

“The keys to ending sexual violence are early education and creating a culture that doesn’t blame the victim. This is the only crime in which the victim is the one that’s questioned, is the one that is not believed when they come forward” – Clark

Follow Andrea and Annie on Twitter to keep up-to-date with their latest projects and continued fight for an end to campus sexual assault.


A Mother to Trees

The capacity for a woman to bring human life into this world is often thought of as her most significant and powerful role. However, not all women are born with the gift of fertility. For Saalumarada Thimmakka, being barren in Southern India was followed by scrutiny and ostracism. While Thimmakka could have let people’s damaging words affect her, she instead invested her energy into a life-long project that has since propelled her as a role model to the entire world.

 Saalumarada Thimmakka was born in a small town of rural India to a very poor family. Never having the opportunity to attend school, Thimmakka was running household chores at an early age and reared her family’s cattle and sheep. She met and married her husband, Sri Bikkala Chikkayya, who was also from poverty. It was not long into their marriage that the pair realized Thimmakka was infertile. The couple suffered from discrimination, stigma and ostracism, as having children in developing countries is considered the most significant role of a woman; the inability to fulfill this role classifies women as “worthless.”

 Thimmakka and her husband decided to plant trees as their children. Together, the couple planted hundreds of trees and cared and nurtured them the same way they would have biological children. What began as a way to deal with the grief of infertility, led to Thimmakka planting as many trees as possible with the encouragement of her husband. The couple, who are avid environmentalists, saw this act of tree planting as a way to serve the environment, country and humanity. And while this commitment to watering and guarding each and every tree did not help them escape the ruins of poverty, it instead led them to become role models to the whole community. Thimmakka’s woodland has almost 300 trees and stretches on both sides of the road for 4km from her village to the next, which is remarkable considering the area’s arid conditions. The couple would  have to lug water for several kilometers to ensure all trees were receiving ample amounts. Chikkayya has since passed but Thimmakka continues nurturing the trees and has no intentions of stopping.

The couple was recognized for their service throughout India and caught the attention of a then 14-year-old boy by the name of Sri Umesh. Umesh possessed the same love for nature and preservation. He requested adoption from his biological parents and has been following in Thimmakka’s footsteps ever since.

Now 105 years old, Thimmakka continues to dedicate her life to nature. The “Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation” trust was founded in 2014 as a means to continue Thimmakka’s missions of environmental preservation and selfless service. Her efforts have also led to her receiving multiple awards. She was also featured on BBC’s 100 Women in December 2016.


“How we planted and took care of the trees, everyone from children to the elderly should plant and grow trees. It will be beneficial for all of us.” – Thimmakka



Ms, Mrs & Miss— let’s talk feminism

Throughout history, countless numbers of brave women have helped pave the way for the women of today.  It is through their dedication and commitment that modern women have the ability to vote, work and stand up for their beliefs. There’s no denying the United States is currently facing a period of extreme division across its borders. Yet, regardless of the causes we fight for, we must remember the women who forged the way before us; they’ve handed the baton over to us. We are responsible for continuing their legacy, empowering others and engaging in actions that bring great change to the world.  We must be our own support system— a source of inspiration to each other and continue blazing the trail as women in history.

Noteworthy Women is a platform dedicated to featuring such personalities— women of the past, women of today and the women of tomorrow. For many years, feminist ideals have been misunderstood and taken for granted. In order to reverse this stigma associated with feminism, it is important to help people see the true values that feminism stands for. 

Noteworthy Women is the product of four female Undergrad students from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. These women, who come from different states/countries, backgrounds and ideals, understood the power their unique experiences could have when united with one goal of de-stigmatizing the ideals of feminism. With this blog, they hope to serve as an example to other women, that any woman can make a difference be it small or large by taking a stand.

“Strong women aren’t simply born. We are forged through the challenges of life. With each challenge we grow mentally and emotionally. We move forward with our head held high and a strength that cannot be denied. A woman who’s been through the storm and survived. We are warriors!” – unknown

The blog’s content will focus on showcasing women who have done remarkable things over their lifetime, made sacrifices for causes dear to them and stand proudly for who they are. The gallery will feature visual components to help readers feel as connected as humanly possible to women they may never have the chance to meet face to face. Feel free to connect using the contact information available. If there are women you want to have featured, shoot us an email and we’ll happily create a post. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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