There are days when Pagoni jewellery designer Kassandra Behrendt feels worthless and questions her abilities – this is the legacy of a life marred by violence and fear, growing up in a house with an abusive father. Both Behrendt and her mother lived a life governed by abuse. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, she has emerged as a strong and fearless advocate and supporter for organisations who help other women through domestic violence.

A survivor of childhood abuse, coupled with the added trauma of a near-death experience with breast cancer, Behrendt is incredibly grateful to be alive. Her desire give back is strong; to give back to the other survivors of breast cancer and to help women and children who are victims of domestic violence. She realised her talent as a jewellery designer was the answer. This confident and visionary designer, through her label Pagoni, donates beautiful pieces for auctions and raffles to help raise money for charities including Red Rose Foundation Australia, Friends with Dignity, and Women’s Legal Service Queensland. “I’m now in place where I am loved and cherished. I have two arms, two legs and a heart that is passionate about helping others,” Behrendt said. “The women fleeing domestic violence, who are looking to start again, need love. I have a lot of love to give. I have a talent that can be used to make a difference. It is my way of giving back.”

Behrendt believes we live a privileged life here in Australia and we have an obligation to give back to our community and to those who are less fortunate. She does this by combining her design skills with her philanthropic heart. Her flare for fashion and knowing what makes women feel good about themselves. “I design pieces to be used for fundraising,” she said. “Gifting a high-end brand helps attract attention to a cause. I want people to know the work the organisations I support do. I want to draw in more donations and money; every bit helps. Organisations that support women can only do so much when funds are limited.

“It is like a hospital that only triages the ones they know will survive; for women leaving a domestic violence situation what happens to them when they do not tick all the boxes but still need help? They are turned away and left to fend for themselves because there not enough money. Women like my mother who suffered for years because there was no support for her. This is something I can do, to make a difference.”

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