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Fanm Djanm’s Founder Exemplifies Meaning of Brand Name

More than solely a retail brand, Paola Mathe is creating community through shared experiences.

How did you come up with the name? I like to create everything with intention. I knew before I started Fanm Djanm I didn't want to just sell headwraps, I wanted to build a legacy and pay homage to the women who came before me. Fanm Djanm means Strong Woman in Haitian Kreyol. It’s inspired by the market ladies in Haiti who have contributed a great deal to the local economy while being the backbone of their families. I took that concept and explored what it truly means to be "strong" and a woman and what I've learned is that there are many ways to be strong. It was a way to challenge myself to connect with women through head coverings. 

What made you decide to open a brick & mortar rather than solely e-commerce? Having a brick-and-mortar was by accident. I happened to live around the corner when I saw the "For Lease" sign on the window. I had used the space before when it was a coworking space and thought it was some sort of sign. I'm always here to learn, to grow, and to challenge myself. I thought it would be interesting to open a shop that was Black women-centered in the center of Austin, TX that created headwraps for everybody. We create all of our hair accessories locally and we curate different jewelry and other goods from other women-owned companies and organizations. There are not many shops like Fanm Djanm in this city where a Black woman can walk in and say things like, "I want to live here!" But anyone, no matter where they are from, can walk out with something.

Beyond merchandise, you have events at the store from hair styling and cake decorating to a book club. The events are to find another way to create community. Many Black women move to Austin and feel lost and long for community. Many of the women who attend our events come because they want to meet other Black women and they want to support other Black creatives. Our book club is really popular right now! Anea, our Special Events manager runs it. We also love collaborating with other women who want to create inclusive, intimate experiences. 

Are there any special events happening in September? We host something called "Wrap It Wednesday" which is a monthly conversation series where I sit down with a woman from the community who we find inspiring. It starts with wrapping them and then we get to know them! 

Favorite quote? "Take your time, but don't waste your time."