How Dolly Parton Inspired One of the Richest Self-Made Women in America

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

For many people, Dolly Parton happens to be a source of inspiration due to her country music and many different songs. Yet, for those who keep up with the versatile star, they also know she’s a pretty good actress, too. One of her best-known movies is 9 to 5. That movie, and Parton in particular, helped give business owner Kendra Scott a dose of inspiration.

Scott, who owns a jewelry empire, is reportedly worth $580 million. Her company, Kendra Scott, does sales of around $360 million. Recently, she has put out a book that’s titled Born to Shine. In fact, Parton is so beloved by Scott that she got Dolly to write the forward of the book.

Dolly Parton Movie Acts As Impetus For Kendra Scott And Her Business

“I watched ‘9 to 5’ until the VHS wore out,” Scott told FOX Business. “I had to get another one, and I asked for it for my birthday because I watched it so many times. The symbolism of these women who at first don’t want to get along because they were so competitive with one another spoke to me because they ultimately joined forces. And then they completely turned a very male-dominated business upside down. It planted a seed in this little girl’s mind.”

This 1980 comedy also starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The movie happens to tell the story of three female employees banding together. They turned the tables on their boss, who was sexist and hypocritical. Scott said that watching the film, and Dolly Parton’s performance, inspired her to launch a company that honors female employees. How so? The company has almost 3,000 employees and is made up of 95% women.

“This is a utopia for working women,” Scott said. “Our corporate headquarters has a nail salon for complimentary mani/pedis. With so many busy moms and women in general, you don’t have to leave and worry about getting manicures. We also have a nursing room for moms where you can pump or bring your baby to nurse. We also have a dedicated mother’s milk refrigerator. We’ve got a fitness center and a kid’s playroom if you need to bring in your kid to work.

“In watching ‘9 to 5,’ I created that today, and it works,” she said. “The lesson in that movie is we are much stronger when we listen to one another and respect one another, no matter what stage we are in life. And we’re there for one another. I think that’s one of the secret sauces for Kendra Scott [the company] and why we have such wonderful employee retention.” Scott actually started her business back in 2002. She was making jewelry out of a spare bedroom in Austin, Texas, with just $500.