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Made From Grass and Flowers

Photo by Beth Baugher

Imagine someone DMing you on Instagram, asking if you would be interested in selling hand-woven baskets. Imagine the person was from Bolgatanga (known as Bolga) in West Africa. Imagine the person sends you the baskets purely on faith and trusts you will pay if you decide to keep them.

That is what happened to Freda Narh, owner of Mateko’s Portico. Narh was shocked—and immediately smitten. “I was not expecting baskets to show up at my door, but they did, and I was in love,” she says. “I love these baskets.”

Made of elephant grass and dyed with flower petals rather than chemicals, the baskets— which can be used for shopping, carrying wine (her wine baskets are the most popular) and more—were an instant hit with customers who follow Mateko’s Portico on Instagram (@Matekosportico).

Narh likes knowing that proceeds from the baskets as well as her in-demand shea butter moisturizer—the makings for which she also procures from women in West Africa—help support other women. “I could not be more proud of that,” she says.

Nahr shares her work with her 7-year-old daughter, Merrit, whose middle name is Mateko. She feels she’s setting an example for her. “It’s all for Merrit Mateko,” says Nahr. “I want her to have that entrepreneurial drive like me.”

It seems to be working. Merrit can be found working alongside Narh making moisturizer, setting up for events or attaching labels on items. “She’s a part of it all,” says Narh.

In July, Mateko’s Portico will be at the Greenhaven Pocket Farmers Market on Saturdays and at Moonraker Brewing Co. events in Auburn. Narh also makes deliveries within the Sacramento area.


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