Bahar Matin-Azad

One Woman’s Quest for Independence

January 2024 IssueBahar0124

by Edwina Hoyle
Photography by Lindsay Gifford

Bahar Matin-Azad grew up in a loving family in Iran but longed to be free and independent. The patriarchal culture of Iran squashed all opportunities for her to grow into the woman she wished to be. (Even today, Iranian women experience discrimination deeply impacting their lives, particularly with regard to marriage, divorce, and custody issues. Wearing a hijab is compulsory and women are not permitted to travel abroad without their
husbands’ permission.

So, when a distant relative realized Bahar was a great catch, she played matchmaker and told her son, who was living in Canada, he needed to meet her. He came to Iran, and they liked each other. Bahar hoped that because he was educated and financially secure, her life would be better than what she experienced in Iran. “I had a fantasy that he would take me to another world where I could be independent and have a better life for our future children,” she said.

“I got married hoping to build a better future—to get out of Iran. I went from being controlled by my country and my parents to a new world where I still had no control. It was like being in a boat with no training—going from someone’s boat to a different boat. Then you get thrown into the water and must learn to swim and find your own boat.”

Bahar moved to Canada with and her husband and later to the United States, where their children were born in Florida. They moved to Bluffton in 2011. “After trying for 12 years of marriage, I decided to pursue my own happiness. I’m strong, but I had lost myself. I wanted college, to be educated, to learn the language…but got no support. I had no friends or family to help me.”

Once she got a job, she walked out with nothing except the children. “I transitioned from a young, naïve woman who was controlled by everybody, to an independent woman who puts my children first, who provides every possible opportunity to help them.” She is proud they were born in America and that they are both fluent in Farsi.Bahar0124 2

Bahar was hired at a local bank as a teller and quickly worked her way up to a lead position in customer service. A customer offered her a job with better hours, and she accepted because it allowed more time with her children. David Paxton owned a fire suppression business, and Bahar said she quickly became “his everything.” She was an administrator at the business and handled his personal tasks, as well, because he had no family.

They became very close until tragedy struck in 2020 when Paxton contracted Covid and passed away. The business had to be sold, but Bahar knew there were ongoing projects that had to be completed. She stepped up to make sure the contracts were fulfilled. “Life doesn’t get easier,” she said. “You grow stronger and learn how to fight.” Rather than lose her job, she offered a proposal to buy DLP Fire Protection Group, which provides fire suppression systems for homes and businesses. Her offer was accepted.

Until customers and vendors met her in-person, most thought Bahar was a man. “It was so different from banking, which I knew inside and out. With fire protection, there was much to learn: pipes, various systems…I had obvious challenges. I learn every day. I’m the glue that holds everything together.

I don’t want to be a failure, so I make opportunities and challenge myself,” Bahar shared. “I’m very serious about providing for my employees—taking care of them, valuing them. I feel wonderful being in charge and making sure they know their important.”

Bahar’s life is polar opposite now from her life in Iran. She is independent, free, and an entrepreneur. She has remarried and says her husband, Carlos, is her soulmate. They share the same goals and passions, he is always there for her, and they’ve created a blended family with five children in which happiness comes first.

Her 19-year-old son, Parsa, is studying mechanical engineering at college and has learned kindness, how to listen and to have compassion. Niki, her 21-year-old daughter, earned a degree in finance and is going for her master’s degree. “She’s tough and independent and knows her value, she’s strong. She’s where I wish I could have been at her age.

“I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know my value. I want to be a powerful mom because I was weak, powerless—a nobody. I want to do better. I never say I can’t. I will always be there for them.”


Fun Facts:

• In addition to her own children Niki and Parsa, Carlos has three: Victoria (24), Isabella (23), and Carlos (14). “I put a lot of energy into my blended family and make sure I keep our family together. We have five children and no hate. I love it when they are all home and the bedroom doors open in the morning and they come out for breakfast. It’s very special.”

• In love with Persian dancing, Bahar and Carlos dance every morning at breakfast. All of their children dance Persian dancing, as well. Different from belly dancing, in Persian dancing the hands, arms and shoulders move, while the hips move in belly dancing.

• Bahar walks or runs five miles a day listening to Iranian music. She loves swimming and is learning to play golf.

• Bahar has a dream to someday open a Persian restaurant to introduce Persian cuisine to America. Her husband is a huge fan and enjoys it more than his native Mexican food.