Shavon Stevens, from Memphis, Tenn., is likely better known as Starr — the name she uses for her business as a braider, creating some of the most intricate hairstyles you’ve seen.
As a child, Stevens watched her mother braid clients’ hair while she sat right beside her practicing her own skill on dolls. It sparked her love for braiding at just 8 years old. As she got better, she explains to Yahoo Lifestyle, her cousins became her earliest version of clientele, before she began charging for her work.
“I’m the youngest of five, and my mom was a single mother, so whatever extra I wanted, I would braid hair for it,” Stevens says. “At 16 years old, I started really taking braiding seriously, like a real job. Every day when I got out of school, and on weekends, I had clients scheduled.”
And the hard work at a young age certainly paid off for the mother of three. Thousands of Instagram followers, and limited availability in bookings, are current measures of Stevens’s success, as her work gets more and more attention for its uniqueness and creativity.
That’s in spite of a severe injury that would have sidelined other braiders: In June 2017, she lost half of her middle finger — a vital finger for braiding — while cutting grass. The experience led her into a depression, since she believed that she might not ever braid again.
“I wasn’t worried about the pain, nor the fact that my finger was gone,” she admits. “All I could think about was how I was going to braid. Every day and night I cried for about two weeks, and it was like that second week, God told me to pick up a comb.”
Good thing she did. Her social feeds are now filled with photos and videos of the braiding and beading that she does, which all pull from different and fun sources of inspiration.
For her young clients in particular, Stevens shares that her favorite designs have been a unicorn and Frozen‘s famous character Olaf.
“I have to think outside of the box when working with my kid clients, because they sit in my chair and ask for all types of things,” she says. “When creating styles, I always ask myself what little girls love or who’s the most liked character out right now. It all comes natural to me because once I start braiding, everything just comes out so perfect.”
With stitches and wrapping still on her finger, Stevens began to teach herself again how to braid. And although it felt like a skill she’d never employed before, she forced herself into daily practice until it all came back to her. And then she had another setback.
“December 1, 2017, I had to go in and get the rest of that finger cut off because it was infected,” Stevens says. “I’m still healing and my hand still isn’t as strong, but I’m getting there. I used to be afraid to show my hand, but now I realize that this is me, and God left me the rest of my fingers for a reason.”
Seven months from her accident, Stevens has opened up about the loss of her finger on social media, where she displays the amazing work that she continues to do.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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- The internet is freaking out over this hairstylist’s neon yellow DIY braided wig