Paola Mathe is a woman’s woman. As founder and creative director of Fanm Djanm, a brand of bold and colorful headwraps, clothing, and accessories, her main inspiration comes from the women she admires. Her goal? Inspire women to be bold.
Her latest collection titled, “Pastel Walls and Popsicles” was captured in a stunning tropical themed photo shoot. The striking pictures, taken by Joey Rosado, featuring Mathe and her beautiful friends, instantly went viral on Instagram among beauty lovers and style enthusiasts.
We caught up with Mathe to learn more about what inspires her and what it took to put the look book for the collection together.
Tell us a bit about you.
I was born a dreamer in a small town in Haiti. I always pictured myself floating up above the skies, and sometimes, that got me into trouble. I was able to create different stories in my head from novels that I’d borrow from older women I grew up with. An awkward, shy teenage version of myself moved to the States right before high school. My first trip to New York City changed my life because I knew that’s where I wanted to live for a very long time. I’ve always felt like I wanted to shout and sing, but I wasn’t sure if I had the voice. So after college, I packed my bags and moved to the big city with a roommate I found on Craigslist. I’ve held a variety of jobs since, from serving, to hosting, to managing sales, accounting, and operations at hotels and restaurants. And now, I operate a lifestyle blog (findingpaola.com) and brand (fanmdjanm.com) that celebrates strong women everywhere.
What was the inspiration behind your new spring line?
I’m inspired by color, sisterhood, and boldness. Always. My goal is to share my colors with the world, and there’s so much color to share. I imagined this spring line as fun and vibrant. And I wanted to show a small group of dark skinned women with different bodies, having a phenomenal time.
The photos are stunning. Tell us about the photo shoot and what it took to put it together.
Thank you! The photo shoot was a lot of planning, but my previous trips to Puerto Rico the year before made it easier to put together. I was already familiar with the different locations I wanted to shoot and planned each photo and the subject ahead of time. Everything from the styling, to the creative direction of the photographs was done by me. I’m grateful to have such amazing friends who are willing to help me make my dreams come true. Since Joey Rosado (Fanm Djanm’s official photographer) and I have photographed both Cacsmy (pictured above) and Kristia before, the shoot felt a lot less like work, and more of a party in Puerto Rico.
Describe the Fanm Djanm woman and what the name means.
Fanm Djanm means strong woman in Haitian Kreyol. It means we have the power to do whatever we desire despite what we were conditioned to believe. We are bold. And we’re not afraid to share our colors with the world.
Why is it so important for you to celebrate women through the pieces you create?
Women inspire me everyday. Sisterhood is important, it can change the world. We live in a world that tries to tell us how to be everyday. It tries to tell us how to dress, how our bodies should look, and when to accomplish certain life goals. We feel pressured by so many different things as women. And the older we get, the more the world tries to control us. I want the pieces to remind women of their strength. I use the word “magic” a lot, and to me magic is color and strength. I say feel free to be you. We all need little reminders to push us, and it’s important that my work is not just the product, but the feeling that comes with wearing the product.