South Auckland hairstylist's ultimate call-up to braid hip hop royalty
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
A young Samoan hairstylist has gone from braiding hair for schoolmates to offering her services to a member of US group and Hip Hop royalty, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Catheryne Matiasi, 34, has been braiding since her schooling days, when she and her sister were well-known for their hair-styling talents.
Just over a week ago, that talent would catapult Matiasi to new heights, when she got a request for her services from American rapper Bizzy Bone, of award-winning 90s hip hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
The rapper was in New Zealand for the Juicy Fest music tour and had arrived for the Auckland leg.
Bone Thugs is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop groups in history and have hits including 1st of Tha Month, Thuggish Ruggish Bone, East 1999 and Tha Crossroads - the latter which earned them a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Rap Performance.
South Auckland rapper Poetik, one of Matiasi’s clients, contacted her to say Bizzy was looking for a braider and that he had put her name forward for consideration.
The very next day - on the day the artist was to perform - she received a call while she was braiding her 9 o’clock client, she said.
“I had to be at the hotel by 10.30 a.m.”
Matiasi said Bone Thugs is a household name as she and her family and friends grew up listening to their music.
Matiasi said their conversation was about profit, gaining more followers and how the braider could improve her business.
“We talked about life, how I started and the jobs I had before my braiding. It felt so surreal and cool to hear it from someone of a high calibre, which I used to listen to.
“He spoke to us like humans. I got to hug him on behalf of all the [Bone Thugs] and Bizzy fans. It was the best four hours of my life.
Matiasi said the other members of the group were performing at another gig in Las Vegas.
But Bizzy revealed to her that he had chosen to come to New Zealand for its culture and to give back to their fans.
While she braided, he looked through her business social media accounts and was impressed by her work, calling it “mad”.
After braiding his hair, she said the rapper commented: “Ooh yeah, I am ready for the show.”
Matiasi’s passion and business started to expand between 2017 and 2018.
“I quit my full-time job so I could focus on what I realised I loved doing.”
In 2019, she officially started her hairstyling business. That same year, she met rapper Poetik - now one of her regular customers.
She has gone on to braid musicians and celebrities - mainly Pacific Islanders - including Biggs 685, HP Boyz, Stanley T, Kennyon Brown and Brown Elvis.
Matiasi pays tribute to her older sister, Beka, who taught her the craft and also their mother, who raised them as a solo-mum and continues to remind her to pray and thank God for her talent.
The entrepreneur encourages anyone wanting to further their hairstyling experience.
“Invest in your craft and take the leap to turn your passion into a thriving business.”
Hero image: Iconic 90s hip hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Photo / Supplied