Jewelry designer Kendra Scott gives back to Tarleton student’s mother fighting cancer

By Emily Cowart—

 Staff Writer

Kendra Scott, founder and chief executive of Kendra Scott Jewelry in Austin, has prided herself on being a philanthropist in her professional and daily life. Starting her company with only $500, Scott has created a fashion empire that she shares with others through a charity called Kendra Gives Back.

As someone who lost her stepfather, Rob, to cancer at a young age, Scott founded her company on fashion, family and philanthropy. These values are what inspired Scott to build the foundation for Kendra Gives Back.

Scott explained how her passion for philanthropy began after her stepfather passed away.

“He left behind a powerful message for me that I have carried with me every day since: ‘You do good,’” she said. “Those three small words of advice became the foundation of what I wanted to do as a woman, as a person and a business owner.”

Kendra Scott Jewelry employees commit themselves to their mantra: “What Matters to You Matters to Us.” The company employs a community outreach manager at each of the store locations to engage in their communities and learn about the causes they care for.

Carla Maxwell and her daughter, Olivia, enjoyed time together over the holidays.(Photo from the Facebook page "Carla's Journey")

Carla Maxwell and her daughter, Olivia, enjoyed time together over the holidays.
(Photo from the Facebook page “Carla’s Journey”)

Tarleton State University student Olivia Maxwell has felt this philanthropy firsthand. Olivia’s mother and junior high history teacher, Carla Maxwell, was diagnosed in May 2014 with Stage 4 liver cancer. The cancer eventually spread to her lungs and abdomen.

A Facebook page called Carla’s Journey, run by Olivia’s sister Madeline Maxwell, outlines Carla’s battle with cancer. To the family’s surprise, the page has taken off, cumulating over 2,500 likes since its formation in June 2014.

In December, the Maxwell family received news that Carla had been admitted to the ICU at Arlington Memorial Hospital due to an infection causing fluid to fill up in her lungs and heart. Because of the chemotherapy, her immune system would not be able to fight the infection. From that point, oncologists gave her a life expectancy of 48 hours.

“Seeing Carla’s reaction was the toughest so far; that woman refuses to stop fighting and only cried when she saw us tearing up,” author of Carla’s Journey, Madeline, stated on the Facebook page Dec. 11.

Carla has since surprised everyone and has been healed of her infection. She is currently fighting her battle with cancer and living life to the fullest with her friends and family.

In July 2015, the Maxwell family had their first experience with Kendra Scott Jewelry when Scott agreed to host a Kendra Gives Back event to benefit Carla. This event raised $3,000 for the Maxwell family.

Shortly after fighting her infection, a family friend contacted Kendra Scott Jewelry about the Carla’s Journey Facebook page and her recent complications.

“My mom loved Kendras; she forced me to get a purple pair (of the earrings) for Tarleton,” Olivia said in regards to her mother.

After hearing of Carla’s infection and critical condition, Scott stepped in and hosted yet another Kendra Gives Back event for Carla. This time, however, the event was hosted in two cities, Fort Worth and Durham.

“Phones rang off the hook at both events, creating a mountain of shipments from phone orders and resulting in an incredible donation to Carla’s Journey at the end of the night,” Scott explained.

During the second event, a particular earring from the spring 2016 Kendra Scott Jewelry collection was featured, called “Carla.” Twenty percent of all “Carla” earring sales benefitted the Maxwell family on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. during their Kendra Gives Back partnership.

“The event was four hours, and we got 20 percent of proceeds, which was $7,000 in those four hours,” Olivia explained.

According to Olivia, Scott even sent Carla a bouquet of white lilies and earrings during the holiday break to show her personal support for Carla’s Journey.

“Rarely have I seen such a large community unite for the cause of one woman,” Scott said.

“We partner with over 500 organizations a year, giving back over $1 million to both local and national charities,” Scott added.

In addition to helping families like the Maxwells, Kendra Gives Back has also adopted philanthropies of its own. The Seton Breast Care Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the National Down Syndrome Congress are some of their national affiliations.

The “Carla” earring is still available for purchase at Kendra Scott Jewelry stores or online at

“Our Spring 2016 ‘Carla’ earrings could not share a name with a more incredible person,” Scott said.

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