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Matou

Diakite Ramata

 

Born in Ivory Coast, West Africa, Ramata, affectionately known as “Matou” aspired to live the American dream at eight years old when she learned how to braid hair. Living with her father’s big brother, Matou became a very good braider and had perfected the art at age 14. Her uncle constantly told her that braiding hair did not make for a very bright future, but in the years to come, Matou was able to support her entire family.

Shortly, thereafter, she became the number one hair braider in her community. Her uncle later apologized and told her how proud he was of her. In later years, Matou began to expand her horizons with the desire to become the ultimate business woman. She began investing in and selling apparel. She traveled to Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina and Lome importing and exporting goods to prosper financially, continuing to take care of her family. She often wondered what it would be like to live in a country with a capitalist class structure where the sky was the limit if you worked hard for it. Her vision then was to come to America.

In 1996, Matou obtained her visa and traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to stay with friends. She saw first-hand that her dreams could become a reality and decided to stay. It did not take long to adapt to the culture and learn the language as she began braiding hair at Massango’s African Hair Braiding in the Germantown section of the city. Matou acquired her own personal repertoire of customers who convinced her that she could do better by herself. She began braiding hair in her apartment and purchased flyers at a local copy shop in Germantown. By passing out flyers and by word of mouth, Matou became a hair braiding sensation. It was now time to spread her wings. She opened Matou’s African Hair Braiding on Chew and Chelten Avenues and the rest is history. Matou prides herself and her stylist in not only beautiful and versatile styles, but quality work. Although the business is competitive, Matou’s motto is “It is not good to focus on the better price, what is most important are the best results.”