For those in the fashion landscape, large social-media followings and glamorous influencer gigs are crucial for establishing a persona. But for entrepreneur and social philanthropist Elizabeth Carlock Phillips, there’s a deeper meaning behind her passion for pretty things.
This month, Phillips launches Gems by the Foot, a jewelry collection that gives 10 percent of its proceeds to North Texas women and families of the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement program.
It’s not her first foray into the accessories biz. The 29-year-old began making jewelry as a Highland Park High School student and continued through college at SMU. Even then, she donated large portions of her earnings to community charities.
Under her Elizabeth Carlock Designs brand, she created two nonprofit collections: one for Dallas company The Akola Project, which employs Ugandan women to make necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, and another for East Dallas’ Reconciliation Outreach, which helps women escape homelessness.
For Gems by the Foot, Phillips recruited her college friend Michelle McAdam (granddaughter of Dallas philanthropist Ruth Altshuler), whose interest in aiding refugees led to a master’s in international relations from the American University in Paris, and Alicia Duque, a certified gemologist born in Colombia, South America.
“What’s interesting about Alicia,” Phillips says, “is that she’s married to the son of successful Iranian refugees, and she’s an immigrant herself, so this issue is close to her heart.”
Fusing their talents, the women craft made-to-order necklaces and bracelets with semiprecious gemstones on gold or silver chains, which are sold by the foot, from one to four feet, $40 to $120.
The business is strictly e-commerce; the website also publishes interviews with women of the IRC who benefit from the jewelry sales. Phillips’ goal is to employ many of these women, who have arrived in Dallas from Burma, Afghanistan, Syria, Honduras, and similarly impoverished countries.