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Expanding Dallas Grown Brand Finds its Happy Place in Uptown: Welcome to the Land of Gaia

BY // 09.12.18
photography Kelly Christine Sutton

Paula Minnis envisioned a bungalow storefront for her expanding homegrown brand Gaia, which employs refugee women in Dallas to create vibrantly patterned jewelry, bags, and pillows. She was disappointed when she couldn’t find a space among the rows of cute cottages on Lovers Lane, close to where she lives.

Then, fortuitously, a two-story house in Uptown became available this past spring, giving her nine-year-old business a home.

“I wanted a place for our artisans and our team to go every day,” she says. “A warm environment, a cocoon, a happy place.”

Gaia HQ is the pinnacle of Minnis’ dream for her company, whose moniker means goddess of the earth.

Currently, Minnis manages 10 refugees hired through the International Rescue Committee from Syria, Afghanistan, Burma, Congo, Iraq, and Tunisia — artisans who now have an upstairs workplace to fashion Gaia’s textile goods that are sold at Gaia HQ as well as in Dallas boutiques (Madison, Cabana) and several shops across the country.

The first floor of Gaia is a dedicated retail space, where colorful tassel earrings and ring totes provide a striking contrast to the white walls. In place of firewood, piles of Gaia pillows are fluffed in the fireplace.

Shelves are filled with plants and succulents, coffee-table tomes about women and travel, and products that complement Gaia’s aesthetic and mission to empower their artisans (woven baskets from Indego Africa, Luna Zorro textiles, hand-poured Prosperity candles, Folklore BK children’s wear).

Earlier this year, Gaia partnered with Dallas-based women-owned Perennials Fabric on collections of bags and personalizable pouches.

Inspired by a favorite blouse in her own closet, Minnis recently launched a flow-y Reya top that’s hand-block-printed by artisans in Jaipur. This fall, she’ll release a long-sleeved version.

“It’s all about kinship,” she says. “We’re helping raise awareness for people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to get to know our women. We’re saying, ‘Here’s the Gaia home and the amazing handiwork of the Gaia family.’ ”

Gaia, 2417 Mahon Street, 214.484.5050.

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