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  • A Note From Our Founder

A Note From Our Founder


Dear GAIA Friends,

After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, I’ve made the difficult decision to close GAIA’s doors at the end of May.  

As you can imagine, this decision did not come easily.  GAIA has been a true labor of love and such a source of joy, meaning, and fulfillment in so many lives, especially mine!  However, after almost 10 years of running and growing GAIA, I’ve determined that it is time for me to take a step back and redirect my energy to my family.

As all working women do, I’ve constantly struggled with work-life balance, endlessly striving to be both a present, engaged mom and an effective leader.  I’ve done the far-from-perfect juggle for so many years, but with my twins now in grade school, my oldest stepson about to leave for college, and my stepdaughter leaving in 2 years, the fleeting nature of their childhood is really sinking in. You can’t get this time back, and I feel I have let so many moments pass by without fully being present.  I have poured so much physical & emotional energy to my GAIA family — who are so precious to me — but it is now leaving me too spent to put meaningful energy towards my own family, who unfortunately aren’t getting the best of me.

I've always said that when I started GAIA, it wasn't because I thought "the world needed another handbag line"…. but because I thought that refugee women deserved a warm embrace in their new country, and to have dignified, living-wage work as they rebuilt their lives in a foreign land… and the work might as well be focused on creating something cute and fun to wear!  Over the years we’ve grown organically and gently, watching in awe as our Artisans have grown as well. And now, as I struggled with what my decision to take a step back would mean for them, I've recognized that the time has come where they are actually NOT refugees anymore.  They are mothers, wives, artisans, homeowners… and Americans.  These women have transformed their lives. The warm cocoon we created at GAIA has served its purpose, and the butterflies are ready to emerge.

It’s interesting, the timing.… now that I’ve reached a season in my life where my family needs me more, it turns out that the refugee women we employ need us less.  Funny how God works like that!

Sharing the news with the Artisans and our team has been pretty heart-wrenching, as you can imagine.  There have been some tears — not so much in fear over what’s next, but in sadness over losing the unique, open, and loving community we cultivated here at GAIA.  It’s been pretty special: a compassionate, emotionally connected workplace unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I have reassured the team that our friendships will continue, that the bonds we formed will live on.

Our focus now is to help launch the Artisans into their next chapter as smoothly as possible, so they can secure jobs before our target closing at the end of May.  We’ll be working on resumes, references, mock-interviews, etc. to help equip them and set them up for success.  I’m hopeful that there may be employment opportunities discovered through people within our network.  The wonderful thing is, we know each and every one of our Artisans intimately, and can recommend and vouch for them with complete confidence.  

We are also exploring the idea of creating a sort of 'Sewing Co-Op' or production facility, in which a group of our Artisans take in tailoring work and/or special sewing projects for Interior Designers, other brands, etc..  If this is something that may be of interest to you, and/or you know of any potential employers, please email me at!

Our other primary goal is to celebrate what we’ve created and what the Artisans have accomplished over the past nearly 10 years. Yes, closing our doors is sad, but this will not be a period of mourning.  "Project Farewell" will be a CELEBRATION of the loving community we all shared here, and will continue to share!  So expect parties, gatherings, and a lot of storytelling to recap our journey over the years. :)

As far as my future, I’m excited to continue my work on behalf of refugees, immigrants, and other marginalized groups.  That will never end.  I actually expect to expand my advocacy work even MORE, now that the focus and pressure of running a fashion business is removed from the equation.  There are so many incredible organizations here in Dallas doing inspiring work, and I’m excited to support their efforts, while continuing to use my voice on behalf of the voiceless.  

I read somewhere that a company is the image of those who form it.  For GAIA, that would include our staff, customers, vendors, collaborators, advocates, cheerleaders… all of you, the people who made GAIA possible. So much goodness, continuously providing the wind in our sails over the past 10 years. The love, care, and compassion of everyone who intersected with GAIA is what made it so uniquely beautiful.  And that love will continue to blossom, even though this chapter is ending.   

Closing our doors will definitely be bittersweet -- but our hearts are full.  Can’t wait to see what lies ahead, and what grows out of the beauty created through GAIA.


With Love & Gratitude, 


  • Post author
    Paula Minnis

Comments on this post (7)

  • Mar 21, 2020

    Hi! I’m working on a story for O magazine about women empowering women. I wonder if you have worked out your next step yet, or if there are any other collectives for female refugees that you think I should look at?


    — Eleni Gage

  • Jun 13, 2019

    I will miss you guys.
    thank you for serving the women, sometimes when we come to a different country there are so many challenges in life but finding a person like Paula and there is also another beautiful lady Lauren, you guys have changed women’s lives. May God continue blessing the works of your hands and may you have fun and happiness catching up with the children. You really need to be there for them when they are still young. that’s not a bad decision at all.

    — Maria

  • Apr 04, 2019

    I am sure that all of your good intentions and works will multiply and that taking a break from this effort will fall into a greater plan as well. All the best to you all. Lots of love, Jessica

    — Jessica Lendvay

  • Apr 03, 2019

    May you and your GAIA family fly far! Glad to see you will CELEBRATE how far you have come and the impact you have made on the lives of many.

    — alana m. buenrostro

  • Apr 03, 2019

    Paula, you are a blessing to our community,
    a model for all big hearted caring souls, and
    such an inspiration to many, especially your
    amazing and talented Artisans. The very
    BEST for you and your ladies!! God be with
    you all as your journeys continue!

    — Gail H Stoke

  • Apr 03, 2019

    Good morning! Wow! This news is so unexpected but I have been watching you for quite some time and have to say how much I admire your heart! Thank you for showing us how to love, lead, and lean into the father’s will! I will be praying for an abundance of blessings and wisdom in your next season for you and the team! I have a similar mission, Adamo, my business/ministry trains survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse In professional job training with body care product manufacturing. We have a traveling airstream boutique and would love to purchase some of your items to carry on our retail shelves. Hope to hear back from you before it’s too late. I have been meaning to reach out for a year now and never imagined you were going anywhere.

    — Carrissa

  • Apr 03, 2019

    I have admired your work from afar but now admire your heart!

    — Jane Mosbacher Morris

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