Austin brands give back: See how Kendra Scott, Andy Roddick and other local leaders serve their community

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The four Austinites speaking on a South by Southwest Conference and Festivals panel about philanthropy came from different industries, but they all agreed on one thing: Giving back, for them, is an integral part of running a brand.

According to Denise Bradley, vice president of communications and community affairs for St. David’s HealthCare, 1 in 5 American consumers say they would rather give back by purchasing goods from socially conscious businesses.

When Kendra Scott founded her eponymous jewelry line, she knew from the get-go that she wanted to use it to help others. Her stepfather’s battle with brain cancer had inspired her to give back whenever she could.

“He always said, ‘We don’t have much time here. You need to leave the world better than you found it,'” Scott said. “I wanted to give back in a meaningful way. I wanted to do good.”

Customers share those values, Scott said. Even after devoting time and resources to host 10,000 fundraising events nationwide and donate 80,000 pieces of jewelry in 2017, the company was valued at $1 billion. She credits the relationship her company has built with communities.

“When you give, you receive so much more,” Scott said.

Like Kendra Scott, Paul Mitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria said standing up for his values helped his profits in the long run. But first, it got him fired, he said.

Earlier in his career, he was let go from a large, successful hair care brand for protesting the testing of beauty products on animals. He founded Paul Mitchell in 1990, and it was the first professional beauty company to publicly take a stand against animal testing. When he launched his first products, he found the company had attracted customers who typically would not buy a salon-grade hair care product. What had led them to invest, DeJoria said, was Paul Mitchell’s values and work with animal rights.

Andy Roddick got his idea to begin his foundation from Andre Agassi, another professional tennis player. At age 17, before he was a ranked player, Roddick asked Agassi what his biggest regret was, and was surprised to hear that Agassi wished he had begun his foundation sooner.

It inspired Roddick to begin the Andy Roddick Foundation, which works to ensure youth in low-income communities have more opportunities, through education and sports-based mentoring. Most of their work is done in East Austin, Roddick said.

Despite their financial and professional success, the panelists were quick to say that even the smallest act of kindness can snowball into something larger.

“You don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference,” Bradley said. “Anyone can help in their community.”

Follow Community Impact Newspaper coverage of SXSW at communityimpact.com/topics/sxsw.

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