‘I’ve Been Extremely Tired, But It’s Very Worth It’: Tennessee Mother Offers Free Braiding to Single Parents Ahead of School Year

A Tennessee mom is helping take one less stress off other moms’ and parents’ plates this year with students returning to school.

There’s a lot of prepping that goes into getting a child adequately equipped for a good school year, academics aside, something Brittany Starks, a Black mother of two, knows all too well. So, inspired by a heartwarming jester from a family friend who surprised her by providing school clothes and supplies for her children, Starks decided to do the same using her hair braiding skills.

The single mother from Antioch, Tennessee, works three jobs and knows the cost of braiding a child’s hair could cost in excess of hundreds of dollars, anywhere from $100 to even $400, and several hours in a salon chair. So she wanted “what will I do with the children’s hair” to be one less question and cost on the list of the back-to-school to-do list.

In early August, Starks offered her services on the “Hip Antioch” community Facebook page, writing, “Anyone know single parents who can’t afford to get their child’s hair done for school? I will braid it for free!” She encouraged those interested to “DM me.” “Update: I have over 30 kids I need help braiding Does anyone have a space all these braiders can use? Due to the amount of children and braiders there is not enough space,” she added.

Tennessee mother offers free braiding to single parents ahead of school year. Photo: screenshot / Facebook

The post hit off almost instantly to where she even needed extra hands at braiding. “I thought it was going to be five to seven kids, but it ended up being 35 kids,” she said about the initial response in a statement obtained by NPR. She’s since lost count of how many kids have gotten their hair braided. Starks’ braiding service garnered so much attention, she enlisted other stylists to assist. Together, the group has saved parents thousands of dollars. “It’s been very hard. I haven’t gotten any sleep. I’ve been extremely tired, but it’s very worth it,” Starks said. “I feel like I’m doing it for a good cause.”

Even with having to work around her other responsibilities and even work on the weekends, Starks says she gives in this way because not only is it helping parents, but it “boosts confidence” for students. She added, “Some kids, they came in, they weren’t smiling, they weren’t talking, and then, you know, as they get their hair braided, they start opening up a little more and then when they’re done, they’re just smiling and so happy..”

She continued, “When your hair is cute, I just feel like you feel so much better about everything [If] your hair is done, you feel confident, you go into school with a fresh start — even though COVID-19’s bringing everybody down.”

Seemingly with continuous demand, Starks sought out help from those in the public who’d be willing to help with supplies. On Aug. 17, she created a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $15,000. According to the page’s description, Starks’ business has many more children who are still waiting to get their hair styled and “we still need supplies.“ She added, “This money will go towards supplies, money for the braiders, insurance, a space to braid, and for the building.” She noted, “I plan to do this every month because I see that it’s a need for our community!” As of today, Stark has raised $20,879.00.

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