The Gaia Collection’s story starts millions of years ago with Zealandia breaking away from Gondwana. Because of this, its led to Aotearoa’s wildlife being unlike anything else on this planet. However, despite this, we haven’t always been so kind to our unique flora and fauna and over 65 different species have gone extinct since human arrival. Nowadays, there are nearly 4000 species in Aotearoa that are at risk or are threatened with extinction.
At The Gaia Collection, we say that is not good enough and knew we had to start a business to do something about it. So we created a line of sustainable earrings to help spread awareness and make an impact for some of Aotearoa’s most endangered species.
Our earrings, like Aotearoa’s species, are one of a kind and (unlike Aotearoa’s species!) are hand designed and made by our owner and co-founder Olivia Ediriweera. Each design features a lesser-known endangered species laser engraved into sustainably sourced wood and comes with sterling silver earrings. Additionally, because spreading awareness is such an essential part of our business, with each design comes information about the species; helping expand your knowledge.
Being formed to help sustain our wildlife, we are committed to ensuring every step we take is sustainable. But know that spreading awareness and being sustainable isn’t enough. So by working with Forest and Bird $5 from every pair of earrings we sell goes to Forest and Bird’s Fairy Tern Project.
The Fairy Tern is one of our three designs and is one of Aotearoa’s most endangered birds with a population of ~40. These small coastal birds face many disturbances from both climate change and humans and are now restricted to 4 breeding grounds in Northland because of it. Forest and Bird have been working to create a 5th breeding ground that is both climate and people-proof, allowing the birds a safe nesting environment.
As of July 2022, the birds are not yet nesting on the island but are frequent visitors. However, by making this island a safe place for the Fairy Tern it has also opened up nesting for many endangered species of birds. In July 2022 The Gaia Collection made its second donation to this project, making our total donation $2360!
The Gaia Collection started as a Lion Heart Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) business in 2021 by two year 13 students Olivia Ediriweera and Finch Bennett from Wa Ora Montessori School in Naenae, Wellington. Through YES it gave us the opportunity, environment and support we needed to start running a business at such a young age. We were able to learn so much about the basics of business and were recognised for this by being awarded the YES Hutt Valley - Wairarapa Business of the year and YES Hutt Valley -Wairarapa Marketing and Sales award. Additionally, our owner Olivia placed 2nd for YES CEO of the year nationwide.
After an incredible first year of success, it was decided that The Gaia Collection would continue solely with Olivia.
Our logo represents who we are at The Gaia Collection. The Koru is a known design in Aotearoa that is associated with new life, and for Māori, it represents the creation story and how everything is connected. To us, it represents how all actions have an impact, so the actions that we make, as humans, should be positive ones.
Inside our koru there are 15 smaller koru, these represent the 15 species that went extinct around the world in 2020. This is our way of showing how we are connected to Aotearoa and that we want to create a new life for these species.
On the top we have two leaves growing out of the koru, this was included so that it would also represent a seedling, further enforcing our push for new life. These leaves also represent our two founders Olivia and Finch.
Our business is all about spreading awareness and protecting our beautiful native wildlife throughout our jewellery collection. Gaia herself is the Greek goddess and the personification of mother Earth. She’s often considered the protector of Earth and like us just wants what's best for it. So together you get The Gaia Collection, a business that cares deeply about our planet and Aotearoa wildlife and is doing so through its sustainable collection.