A Twist of Greatness’ Brittany Starks Uses Hairstyling as an Opportunity to Give Back


If anyone knows about the impact that a great hairstyle can have on a person’s entire outlook, it’s Brittany Starks. The Nashville native and single mother of two has seen firsthand the extra boost of confidence that the children in her community get from the beautiful braided hairstyles that she and her team of volunteers create, free of charge. 

For Starks, her free braiding services started out as a way to pay it forward, after she experienced a random act of kindness herself. Now her charitable efforts have led to her founding her very own non-profit, A Twist of Greatness — and has even gotten the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and Meghan Markle. And she’s only just getting started. 

A Twist of Greatness Founder, Brittany Starks

Starks has big plans for the organization which already hosts monthly braiding events, offers a mentorship program for children, and donates supplies, clothes, books, and food to the community—plans that potentially include taking A Twist of Greatness on tour. 

The Tease had the pleasure of speaking to Starks about her favorite part of the work that she does with A Twist of Greatness, what it was like to be on The Ellen Show, and what we can expect from her non-profit in the future.

The Tease: What compelled you to want to start offering free hair braiding services in the first place and what does it mean to you to be able to do this for your community?

Brittany Starks: Well, what actually started me giving out the free braiding is that I ended up receiving a backpack full of clothes and school supplies for my kids. At that time, I was in-between homes and everything was in storage. My daughter grows really fast, so she didn’t have any clothes to wear. I didn’t have any money till my next paycheck so, I’m like, “What am I going to do?” And, I couldn’t buy school supplies. So, when someone did that for me, just how it made me feel, I decided to give back and I decided to braid hair. 

It means so much to me because the stories that some of these women and men have, was my story. I was homeless twice with kids. I’m a struggling single mother. So, I totally understand. I dealt with that whole depression. So, it really puts a smile on my face to be able to put a smile on these kids’ faces for one. I know it was building their confidence. They got to go to school with their hair done. It also really helped the parents because it’s taken the weight off them. They don’t have to worry about how their kid is going to wear their hair for their first day of school. So, I was very grateful to be able to do that and I know the kids were very excited. They had the biggest smiles on their face.

Did you have hair experience prior to offering your braiding services or were you a self-taught braider?

Starks: So, braiding was one of my three jobs at the time. I am a licensed braider. I did that for money on the side — that was my income. So, for me to offer it for free, I’m like, “If you knew how much money I just gave them.” But, it was so worth it. And, I did it through the pain. I have a metal hip and leg so standing up is very painful. I did it through the pain. I did it through being tired. I was working three jobs at the time. So, it was very much worth it. 

When you initially started offering your free braiding services to your community, were you expecting to receive a big reaction?

Starks: So, I had posted on Facebook asking if there was anyone who needs their child’s hair done for school and can’t afford it. I would do it for free. I literally thought I was going to get 5-7 kids and I got 35. And, I was just like, “Oh my gosh! How am I going to do all these kids’ hair?” I ended up getting Bella Braids byDonnas. She ended up helping me with two kids’ hair and another person who wants to remain anonymous. So, altogether I did 32 kids and now Donna is at every event braiding hair. 

How many children’s hair have you been able to braid since you started? Do you get repeat clients?

Starks: Since I started until now, it’s been over 150 kids that we have done. I have literally lost the count. Every event we take 45 kids. Yes, I get repeats. We also go into the school, so we’ve been partnering up with a lot of schools and going in to braid hair. We have five schools right now that we are partnering with. We are also going to start traveling. 

Where do your braiding appointments typically take place?

Starks: We have a big braiding event and now we are going to be doing them at a school. It’s a big braiding event to where we have 45 kids in attendance. We give them school supplies and they get a book, a snack, and a little gift. Last time, the little gift was a cupcake. The first time it was nail polish and this time I’m thinking about a game board that they can play with their families.

We have Santa coming to our event on the 18th. So, he’s going to come and we are going to take pictures and they’re going to get their hair braided. We’re trying to pass out some coats but that’s kind of hard because we’re trying to get everyone’s sizes and get coats donated. Of course, we’re going to have the books and the school supplies again and we’re gong to have milk and cookies. 

Tell me more about these braiding appointments you offer to the kids. How long do they typically last and what do these appointments typically look like? Also, what sort of hairstyles are you doing for the children?

Starks: At first, when I was just doing it, they were coming in with their hair washed and that took about four to six hours. Then we realized that we can’t do that because that’s a long time. We wanted to be able to service more kids. So, we do wash their hair and we do have a two-hour time slot for them. Within those two hours, they get their hair washed and their hair braided. Then, after that they take a picture and they get their treats. With the styles, we let them choose. We’re doing knotless braids, lemonade braids, beading, ponytails, and natural styles.

What is generally the reaction that you receive from parents as well as the children after you braid their hair?

Starks: They love it! I’ve never gotten a bad reaction. We don’t have any crying kids which is so surprising. And the ones who seem a little antsy? We give them their snacks and a book and they’re fine. They’re just so very happy afterwards. You can tell that their confidence is boosted.The parents are so thankful that they want to volunteer. And, the community has really gotten involved with wanting to volunteer as well. We even has people just sitting down and reading books to the kids. 

At what point did you decide to start your non-profit, A Twist of Greatness? Did you have any idea when you first started braiding hair for free that it would become this full-fledged organization?

Starks: So, it wasn’t supposed to come out this big at all. Inside Edition featured me and I didn’t even know that I was on Inside Edition. Everybody started messaging me and was like, “Hey! I just saw you on Inside Edition.” And, I’m like, “I’m not on Inside Edition.” So, it hit Inside Edition, it was a lot of people messaging me and a lot of people asking me to create a GoFundMe so that they could donate. And, I’m like, “Why do I need a GoFundMe? These kids’ hair is already done.” It was just a lot, but I was like, “Well, okay. We can continue to do this.” So, I made a GoFundMe just for the supplies. First, it was for $1,500. We reached it and actually went past it. So, I’m like, “Huh, this is something that we can do every single month.” So, I put it to $15,000. And, it went up to $42,000—we raised $42,000! We were able to get all of our supplies: chairs, little rolling carts—like everything. 

We ended up getting school supplies and being able to decorate. We also sponsored some kids for tutoring. We provided the schools with turkeys and gift cards for the kids. We took one little girl whose mother just recently passed away in May and who was living with her brother—we ended up taking her shopping. We bought them some groceries and bought all her toiletries. We did a giveaway for Thanksgiving. We did so much!

How did you decide on the name A Twist of Greatness for your organization?

Starks: I literally prayed on the name. At first the name was Hands for Hope and something just wasn’t clicking right. I Googled it and everybody had that name. I just kept hearing in my head the words, “a twist”. And, I’m like, my story was “a twist”. It’s a big twist that happened—from being homeless and just going through all these things to now look at me. So, I just literally kept hearing “a twist” and then I said one day, “a twist of greatness” and I love it. I researched it and nobody had that name. It’s absolutely perfect and I’m happy with it!

What do you love most about the work that you get to do with A Twist of Greatness?

Starks: My favorite part is talking to the kids. We have a mentor program and being able to talk to them—and just even talking to them while they are getting their hair done, I never would have thought that braiding hair is a ministry. But it is. They get their hair done and they are laying down all their problems—everything. And, I’m just like, “Oh, wow!” Like, you never would have known that this is happening. It’s like, “How can we help? What do we need to do to help?” So, we’ve been that bridge to bridge that gap.

You were recently featured on The Ellen Show. How did your meeting with both Ellen DeGeneres and Meghan Markle come about?

Starks: They invited me to the show. When I got in my car accident and I almost died from it in 2019, at that moment, I was like, “I want to go see Ellen.” That was my dream—to see Ellen. So, they talked to me about A Twist of Greatness and I was telling them that I always wanted to go to The Ellen Show. They flew me out and told me that I was going to be in the audience on the show. So, she did the show and it was so much fun! And then, when she called me down, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart dropped in my stomach. I’m sitting there hitting my friend like, “Oh my gosh! Look, she just called my name!”.

The Ellen Show is such a huge platform. Can you talk about the impact that being on the show and meeting Meghan Markle has had on you and your organization?

Starks: We have so many people writing to us and wanting to support us—wanting to buy t-shirts now. And, I’m just like, “Okay, we need to get these t-shirts out.” It’s just so much love and support—even just kind words. Like, that’s always the best, when someone just says something kind. We’ve had a lot of people wanting to donate. We just don’t have a way for them to donate yet. We’re still getting our website up.

A lot of Meghan [Markle] fans are also writing to me too because they love her and want to know what her personality is like. I’m just like, “she’s normal.” You know how when you think about royals, you think they are going to be stuck-up. She was so sweet and so nice and down-to-earth. She was funny and she kept hugging me. I would have never thought that this was how Meghan Markle would be. 

What are your hopes for the future of A Twist of Greatness? 

Starks: I want to be bigger! We’re going to be traveling so I want to do a tour where we just go around to different cities and different states. I want to be able to help more kids. I’m just so excited to be able to do that. So, that’s my biggest thing. I want to be able to teach parents how to keep their kids’ hair healthy. That’s one of the things that a lot of parent’s don’t know so that would actually be great. I also see a lot of Caucasian women who have mixed babies or adopted Black babies and they don’t know what to do with their hair. So, I have also been thinking about doing a class for that also.

To see all of the amazing work being done with A Twist of Greatness, be sure to follow @atwistofgreatness on Instagram. 

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Camille Nzengung

Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor at The Tease, where she covers all things hair. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches. Send her a pitch: cnzengung@thetease.com.


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