We had the good fortune of connecting with James Benvenuto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Our mother, Linda Lawler, originally opened Gaia Earth Treasures in 2008 but it had closed at the start of the pandemic. She made efforts to move to an online platform and keep the business running, but it never fully kicked off. The store was closed for about a year when our mom passed away in July 2021. At that point the business was going to be put up for sale. My brother, Steven, and I decided that the best way to honor our mom would be to re-open. We felt that Gaia Earth Treasures was much more important than the work we had been doing and that it would make our mom proud to see us working together and keeping what she loved alive.
Knowing there were going to be plenty of challenges to overcome, my brother and I agreed it was well worth the risk.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
If you asked me and Steven a year ago what we thought we’d be doing today, it definitely would not have been owning a crystal and mineral store. Prior to Gaia Earth Treasures, I was working as a Manufacturing Process Engineer and Steven was working in video production and editing. We’ve found that the combination of skills makes for a great team, but we have our struggles.
The foundation for the business was there when we took over, but sorting through all of the inventory, documents, and vendors has been difficult. We’ve been working on figuring out where our mom left off and where we would like to go next. The main goal right now is to introduce ourselves. We’ve picked back up on Facebook and Instagram, established our website, and we’ve been accepted into the Santa Cruz Westcliff Outdoor Market each month in 2022 as well as a few other markets in Santa Cruz and Monterey.
Taking on the business has been an emotional journey for both of us. We’ve gotten much closer as brother’s and have learned how to best support each other and how to better communicate with each other. Steven and I fully acknowledge that this is, and always will be, our mom’s store. We just operate it now. It really has been a beautiful experience feeling this closeness to each other and to our mom. We do our best to keep things how she would have wanted, as much more than a store. Gaia Earth Treasures has always been a place that spreads love, promotes healing, and inspires.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The continuation of Gaia Earth Treasures is dedicated to our mom, Linda. She taught us to follow our hearts, to recognize our talents, and showed us unconditional love. Gaia Earth Treasures has brought Steven and I closer together. It has helped us to see our own and each other’s strengths and to work as a team. None of this would have been possible without her.
Other: email: Gaiaearthtreasures@gmail.com