Paula Minnis’ GAIA, known for its cheery artisanal accessories line, has made its mission empowering refugee women who have resettled in Dallas to work for the company. With such a warm spirit, it only seems fitting that the company’s new (and first) store settled into a welcoming carriage house.
This spring, Minnis traded spaces with The Loveliest—literally—to relocate GAIA’s headquarters and debut the brand’s very first brick-and-mortar since it launched in 2009. With the new space, Minnis hopes to give the women both a haven and workspace to spend their days, which is why the cream-colored carriage house on Mahon was ideal. “I was just so excited to have this warm, cocoon-like environment for our artisans and our GAIA family to come for work,” says Minnis.
Although the store opened for business on May 9, Minnis has taken the summer to put the finishing touches on the store and carefully select like-minded lines to carry alongside GAIA jewelry and accessories. “I want to ensure that the other products have a giveback aspect and empower the artisans,” Minnis says. A few examples that made the cut include hand-woven baskets from Indego Africa and candles hand-poured by refugees resettled in Massachusetts. Store furnishings are sourced from IKEA and Wisteria, a Dallas-based company that has long supported GAIA’s work and mission.
Like any home, GAIA’s storefront was designed with families in mind—a full kitchen is perfect for events, while a play area keeps artisans’ children entertained. But beyond the GAIA family, Minnis has enjoyed openeing her doors to the entire Dallas community. GAIA has already hosted four events, and more are in the works, including craft workshops led by refugee artisans.
“We want to give the general public an opportunity to get to know their refugee neighbors in a really natural, organic environment,” says Minnis.
Currently, GAIA’s hours are Tuesday through Friday (10am to 4pm), but shoppers are welcome to stop by beyond those hours with an appointment. GAIA’s door is (at the very least figuratively) always open.