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Our Team

 Paula Minnis - founder

A graduate of the University of Texas, Paula worked for more than 10 years in the fashion industry in LA, San Francisco, and Dallas. Her volunteer work led her to the IRC, where she mentored Burmese refugee and mother of two, Catherin, whose story of struggle and oppression inspired Paula to create a sustainable, socially responsible business model in which women could gain transferable skills to create one-of-a-kind pieces for a living wage. Cloth napkins made from vintage fabrics were chosen as the initial product due to Paula's love for textiles and commitment to living lightly on the earth. 

GAIA's product lines have expanded in congruence with Paula's growing family - iPad cases inspired by two tech-savvy step-kids, reversible baby bib + bootie sets inspired by newborn twins in 2012. The mounting hustle and bustle in the Minnis household only seems to fuel and foster Paula's creativity and determination. She is eager that her children grow up with an understanding of Dallas' diverse communities, an awareness of need and struggle in the world, and a desire to use their unique gifts and passions to help and serve others  {paula@gaiaforwomen.com}

 Lauren Jarrett - director of operations

Lauren came to the GAIA family from Southern California, where she was born, raised, and graduated from the University of Southern California. After meeting Paula and hearing the GAIA story, she traded in her flip-flops for some cowgirl boots and moved to Dallas, TX. With a background in business, fashion, and humanitarian work, Lauren found that GAIA combined her passions and strengths. She believes we are to take seriously God's call to help others and to serve our neighbors, and that the best way we can do this is by simply using the unique gifts and talents we were given. She loves experiencing the full range of the Dallas community, from Highland Park to Vickery Park, and has a desire to generate an even greater sense of unity throughout her new city. {lauren@gaiaforwomen.com}

To whom much is given, much is expected. Luke 12:48

Alyssa Isaguirre - production & development coordinator

A nomad, moving from California, to Texas, to India, and back to Texas, Alyssa finally found a home at GAIA. During all her moving around, Alyssa developed a heart for empowering women and making all things aesthetically appealing. After meeting Paula and Lauren, and hearing their passion to change and invest in the lives of Dallas refugee women, Alyssa was convinced GAIA was going to be her new home!

If not Snap Chatting and visiting the homes of GAIA’s refugee women, you can find Alyssa cheering on the TCU Horned Frogs, eating Mexican food, or exploring Dallas. {alyssa@gaiaforwomen.com}

Bothina - refugee artisan trainer

Bothina joined our refugee artisan team in February of 2016, shortly after her arrival to the U.S. from Syria. It didn’t take us long to realize she was a rock star. Despite having minimal sewing experience (making the occasional throw pillow for her home or quick clothing repairs), she was a quick study with perfectionist tendencies… in other words, our dream employee. Six months later, she was promoted to Refugee Artisan Trainer, where she handles everything from welcoming and on-boarding our new Refugee Artisans, to providing ongoing training and support to the women on a day-to-day basis.

Prior to moving to the U.S., Bothina worked as an English teacher in her home city of Daraa. She has her bachelor's degree in English Literature, and hopes to someday earn her master’s degree as well (which WILL happen, if we have anything to do with it). She is happiest with her family, and loves to see her 2 children, Majed and Juri, smiling back when she tucks them into bed at night.

There’s a lot more to Bothina's story, as you can imagine. You can read more about her life and journey to the U.S. here.

 

Allison Hatfield - editorial director

An Alabama native but a Texan at heart, Allison Hatfield spent nearly a decade at beloved web pioneer DailyCandy. In the years since its closing, she’s focused on content with impact, working with small businesses to tell stories that can change lives. There is no place that mission comes to light for her more than at GAIA. She cherishes the opportunity to help GAIA grow and to share the stories of refugee women rebuilding their lives. When she’s not at her computer, Allison is sweating it out at hot yoga, walking the Katy Trail, or hanging with her rescue pups.  

Lauren Gerken - head of digital

After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a Computer Engineering degree, Lauren (aka "Lauren G”) moved to Dallas with her college sweetheart and husband Cory. After several years of software development and internet marketing in the corporate world, she became a full time momma to her two boys Brooks and Nolan. GAIA is the perfect fit for Lauren, allowing her to combine her technology background with her love for fashion and empowering women. When not at her computer, Lauren spends her time loving the Lord with her church community, eating at her favorite restaurant La Duni, or wrangling her two fun, loving, and energetic boys!