A Mother We Admire: Paula Minnis, GAIA

We are shining a light on Paula Minnis this Mother's Day: Fab mamacita and founder of GAIA for Women. GAIA makes uber-cool handbags, home goods, and jewelry that are handmade by resettled refugee women in Dallas using vintage, artisan-made, and sustainable materials. Their mission is to empower the women through employment, encouragement, and dedication to their long-term success in the local community. Through providing a living wage plus training and development, GAIA's goal is to lead the women to financial independence and self-sufficiency. What a noble cause!

On top of creating jobs and running a successful business Paula is the mother of 2 step children and 4 year old twins. The ever mounting demanding hustle in her household only seems to fuel her creativity and determination. GAIA started out with cloth napkins and has quickly grown into an entire line of accessories from babies, women to home. Paula wants her children to grow up with an understanding of Dallas' diverse communities, awareness of the needs of those less fortunate and struggles of impoverished in the world, and a desire to use their gifts and passions to serve others. 

We are inspired by the amazing mother in many ways. Read on to learn more about Paula and how she manages motherhood and her ever growing charitable empire.

What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

Watching them transform into little people right before my eyes.  It’s fascinating to observe how they process new things, to see them stop and concentrate on a ladybug or an oddly shaped leaf.  It’s helped me pause as well, and become a more patient, in-the-moment person.  

What is the biggest lesson you wish to teach your children?

 My hope is that they grow up with a broad global perspective, with an awareness of need in the world, and the desire to use their own gifts and passions to help others.  

How has motherhood inspired you at GAIA?

Becoming a mom has definitely put the mission of GAIA into a new perspective for me, and gave me a renewed focus on taking GAIA to the next level in order to employ more refugee women.  Reconciling my time away from the kids in order to accomplish that is definitely challenging…..but I hope they look back on their childhood with a busy working mamma, and will recognize the value of meaningful work, and how gratifying and fulfilling it can be to be part of something bigger than yourself.

How do you manage work and home life?

Honestly, it’s a constant struggle, as I often feel guilty about taking time away from my kiddos while I try to grow this business.  I’ve determined that my life as a working mother is essentially about ‘allocation of resources’;  right now my resources and energy are dedicated to my family and my work. There just isn’t much time for anything else. And within that, I always feel like I should be spending twice as much time as I am in each area!  But ultimately, family is the most important, and I’m fortunate to have flexibility and a support staff at GAIA and at home that allows me to integrate the two. 

How has GAIA affected you as a mom?

Working with refugee women and learning their stories definitely helps me not sweat the small stuff.  The second I hear myself complain about juggling 2 preschoolers at the grocery store, I try to think of what the refugee women have endured — fleeing their homes in the middle of the night with whatever belongings they could carry, spending days on a crowded bus, then crowded together in a refugee camp to sleep under a tent.  Yep, I think a trip to Target isn’t going to kill me.

What are your aspirations for GAIA in the future?

Our ultimate mission with GAIA is to provide more opportunity for women in need, so my hope is that in 5 years I’m employing 5 times as many women as I am now, and in 10 years, 10 times as many!  There are still numerous employable women in Dallas, and an endless amount in cities across the country.  My goal is to streamline our production and operations so that what we’ve created here in Dallas can be replicated in markets throughout the country!

The name GAIA (meaning Goddess of the Earth) was chosen to honor all women, from the ones who hand make the products to those who purchase/receive them. GAIA leaves us with ultimate good feels and chic style. How it's made matters.

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Posted on May 6, 2016 .