Junior Destiny Montgomery learned hair braiding in a pinch as a high school freshman when her cousin needed a hairstyle that would fit her usual afro underneath a graduation cap. So, she took to YouTube and taught herself box braids.
Montgomery’s cousin and family were impressed by the impromptu braids she executed, and before she knew it she found herself braiding hair for her friends and family, eventually building her passion into her own business.
“The main way I built my clientele was word of mouth,” Montgomery said, “I did this person’s hair and then somebody was like, ‘Oh I like your hair,’ and they were like ‘Oh this is my stylist.’”
Montgomery, who majors in finance and economics, created her business Instagram page, @destechnique, senior year of high school after gaining a large clientele in her hometown of Houston, Texas. In April 2019, the hair technician submitted to be featured on GW’s Instagram page for the class of 2023 and used the opportunity to promote her hair braiding business and gained exposure on campus from there.
“I created the business name of my Instagram my senior year because my friends actually motivated me,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t really think that my work was that good but everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, your work is so good! Why don’t you have an Instagram? Why aren’t you creating an Instagram?’”
Her Instagram page, which she runs her business through, has racked up more than 1,400 followers. She uses posts to announce when booking is open for appointments, show off hairstyles she’s done on clients and promote her brand.
Montgomery said Instagram was one of the main ways she gained exposure once she moved to D.C. for college.
At first Montgomery stuck to only booking GW students in an effort to safely build clientele in a new area, and maintained this policy throughout the duration of her time on campus during the pandemic. As of this semester, she has expanded her booking policy to college students in the DMV area.
Montgomery said she usually books two people a week to ensure she has enough time to fulfill her academic obligations. Montgomery said she overextended herself in high school by taking on too many clients, but in college she books around her schedule so that she can balance school, club obligations and her business.
Montgomery said that her talent, business and drive doesn’t come without support. In fact, besides her raving clients and motivational friends, her biggest supporters are her parents, especially her stepdad.
“He’s always like, ‘Your work is so good,’ and he actually helped me create my goals for the week,” Montgomery said, “He’ll be like, ‘This is how you could promote this, you can have this type of sale.’”
Taking some of that advice, during her birthday month of September, Montgomery promoted a birthday sale of $21 off select styles. She also organized a recent hair photoshoot to show off her work and promote her business.
In the future, Montgomery hopes to grow her YouTube channel to “give back” and teach other people how to braid the same way she learned.
Alongside her business, Montgomery and her friend YaNassia Whetstone used their hair and braiding knowledge to start a student organization called Hairapeutic Beauty. Montgomery said Whetstone came to her with the idea of starting a student organization that could teach Black students how to better take care of their hair.
“She came to me and was like, ‘I think we need a club,’” Montgomery said. “‘We can have a club where Black women or Black men can have a safe space, learn about our hair texture, and learn about different Black styles.’”
Lauryn Renford, a longtime client of Montgomery’s, found her through a freshman group chat in 2019. The D.C. local and junior majoring in public health said Montgomery has been braiding her hair for three years now.
Renford said besides Montgomery’s professionalism and sweet, warm southern hospitality, finding a reliable hair stylist in D.C. was what ultimately drew her to Montgomery.
“I’m from D.C. and it’s really hard to find a consistent and reliable person who can braid your hair,” Renford said. “That’s extremely important to Black girls, young or old, to have a protective style, especially when you’re in school because it just makes things easier.”
After becoming comfortable with Montgomery and building a rapport over the years, Renford said they’ve also become good friends. Renford said Montgomery is just as professional as she is hospitable and they’ve had conversations about their school life, hometowns and future goals.
“She’s extremely skilled and it’s a super warm experience,” Renford said, “She’s braided my hair before for 10 hours straight and it doesn’t feel like that, you feel at home, which is important to me.”