Kendra Scott to LIM College Graduates: ‘Failure Is Your Friend

NEW YORK — Kendra Scott was the keynote speaker this past Saturday at the LIM College annual commencement and shared the struggles of launching a business after dropping out of school. She told graduates, “Failure is your friend. I wouldn’t be here, with a business valued at over a billion dollars, if I hadn’t first been there, crying on the floor of a business valued at less than zero dollars.”

Scott, who is the chairwoman and chief creative officer of her namesake jewelry and lifestyle brand, was given LIM College’s Distinguished Achievement Award along with an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

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Scott launched her first company, The Hat Box, at 19 years old. And while it failed, Scott told graduates that “every step and misstep in that business laid the path for the business I lead today.” Scott also encouraged graduates to have fun. “It’s easy to put on blinders and work yourself to the bone chasing success, but success without happiness is empty,” she said. “Be a person you’d want to work with and a person other people want to work with. The happier you are, the more success you will have.”

The designer also stressed the importance of doing good. A philanthropist herself, Scott urged graduates to use their careers and businesses as a vehicle to help others. “Doing good and doing well are not at odds with each other,” Scott said. “In reality, the more good we did, the better we did. The better we did, the more good we could do.”

The event was LIM College’s 84th annual commencement exercise, and was held at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center in Manhattan. More than 450 students received master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees. In a statement, the college said there were two significant “firsts” at the ceremony. The first graduates of LIM College’s new Master of Science program in Consumer Analytics were awarded degrees. And the first graduates of the college’s Master of Professional Studies degree program in The Business of Cannabis also took the stage.

In her speech, LIM College President Elizabeth S. Marcuse told the class of 2023 to continue their learning and to “look up from your phones and talk to people. Find out their perspectives, get their advice, listen to their stories and be curious.”

Marcuse also cautioned them not to buy into social media’s illusion, which is that “everyone is so pulled together and perfect. We are all human and there is no shame in struggling or failing. The bigger problems come when we don’t trust ourselves, get help when we need it and learn from our experiences.”

During the event, Patty Farmer (class of 2021) was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree. Farmer is an entrepreneur and author and currently serves as vice chair of the LIM College’s board of trustees. Patrick J. Clayton (class of 2003) was presented with the Maxwell F. Marcuse Award. Clayton is the founder and creative director of Patrick J Clayton Productions. The award is the college’s highest alumni honor.

Other alumni awards went to Alexandra Mondesir (class of 2012, undergraduate degree, and 2016, master’s degree), who received the Shining Star Alumni Award. Mondesir is the founder and creative director of Monde Designs. Maranda Janky (class of 2017, undergraduate, and 2021, master’s degree), received the college’s Rising Star Alumni Award. Janky is the first director of content for the Americas at The Financial Times.

This year, Helena Miller of Madison, Wisconsin, was the undergraduate class of 2023’s valedictorian. After graduation, Miller will join Macy’s executive development program as a merchandiser. Megan Marr was the class’s salutatorian. Marr is from Arlington, Texas, and will be joining Ross Stores as a location planner. Earlier this year, LIM College said Marr was the top recipient of the NRF (National Retail Federation) Foundation’s Next Generation Scholarship.

Additionally, Hilda Alfonso, professor of the fashion merchandising department, received the Adrian G. Marcuse Award for Teaching Excellence. “Named in honor of LIM College’s president from 1972 to 2002, this award is given to a faculty member who performs in exemplary fashion in the classroom and consistently embodies the college’s core values,” the college said in a statement.

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