DALLAS - Paula Minnis is the Dallas woman who created a company to empower women who come to our country as refugees. These are the faces of Gaia Empowered Women, a company offering handmade creations created by refugee women.
“We currently have 10 women, from multiple countries. We employ refugees from Iraq, Syria, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Tunisia.
Gaia, which means 'goddess of the Earth,' was started by Minnis in 2009 after she learned a refugee she was mentoring knew how to sew. "It's such a blessing for them to come here, but they face a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. And I was really overwhelmed by that for Cathryn. I realized if I were to employ her directly and allow her to create something, I would be giving her a handup and not a handout," Minnis said.
Today, Gaia offers a variety of bright products in their brick and mortar store and online; and each artisan is paid a living wage. "Basically, a living wage is twice minimum wage. A living wage is really what it really takes to adequately clothe, house and feed a family,” Minnis said.
From jewelery to zipper pouches and pillows, the beautiful work created by these women represents something they enjoy making and they can even work from home. "So that way, they can be with their kids and more easily arrange child care. I feel that empowering women also empowers them to be mothers and to be wives and to run their household at the same time they are able to provide for it.”
You can shop in store can shop in store at their Dallas location or at gaiaforwomen.com.