Fashion / Shopping

Pom-Poms and Philanthropy Power the Sweetest Fashion Collaboration Ever

Refugee Women Get a Huge Assist

BY // 08.22.17

Gingham and striped totes with pom-pom accents, tassel earrings, and pom-pom hair ties make up the colorful Gaia for J. Crew collection, a sweet collaboration between J. Crew and Dallas-based philanthropy Gaia For Women.

Gaia, founded by Paula Minnis, employs refugee women to handcraft fashion and home accessories.

Last year, Jenna Lyons (then-president and executive creative director of J. Crew) found Minnis on Instagram before instructing her buying team to anonymously purchase one of Minnis’ pom-pom bags.

“The pom-pom bags were initially inspired from a little bag I found in a Moroccan souk,” Minnis says. “Then J. Crew did their own spin on them, using their fabrics combined with our African indigo textiles.”

Eighteen women from the International Rescue Committee were selected to create pieces to include in the initial order for J. Crew: 4,200 hair ties, 1,200 bags, and 400 pairs of earrings.

In all, 16,800 pom-poms were used for the products, which recently launched online and in select stores.

“All of the refugee women we employ are paid a living wage, which is approximately twice minimum wage,” Minnis says. “It’s meaningful, fulfilling work that allows them to get back on their feet not only financially but also emotionally. Their dignity is restored, and they truly treasure the opportunity to become self-reliant again after years of oppression in their home countries.”

Gaia For Women, 6445 Cedar Springs Road, 469.301.1994.

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