Community//

Carol Thomas: “Black and beautiful”

The stigma towards natural hair is still happening, and it is unbelievable to me. We have gone from “I am black, and I am proud” and “Black and beautiful,” and still Black Women are labeled as unprofessional and unaccepted with some of our hairstyles. We are judged for the way our hair grows naturally out […]

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The stigma towards natural hair is still happening, and it is unbelievable to me. We have gone from “I am black, and I am proud” and “Black and beautiful,” and still Black Women are labeled as unprofessional and unaccepted with some of our hairstyles. We are judged for the way our hair grows naturally out of our scalp, some hairstyles are called Ghetto, or we are asked, “why is your hair like that” or “can you comb your hair” but when these same styles are worn by white women it is acceptable and called trendsetting and beautiful.


As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carol Thomas. Carol, known as the “Queen of Natural Hair,” is a licensed cosmetologist and St. Charles owner. After discovering how unprofessional the salon business was, Carol entered the haircare industry and hoped to create a salon space specifically for black working professionals. Her beauty brand St. Charles, is a regal salon-tested hair brand based in Brooklyn, created to help repair and restore natural hair quality. All products are formulated to rejuvenate the scalp while reviving dull strands of natural hair.

With over 20 years of experience as a hairstylist and hearing about the lack of the right products from clients, she decided to create her product line.” I saw just how difficult it was for my clients to find products that work effectively on their hair, and after having a bad experience with my hair, I decided to create my product line “ST CHARLES,” which is named after her father.

Carol has been dubbed as the “Queen of Natural Hair” in several publications such as Essence Magazine and more. She hopes her product line continues to reach a broader audience and reach a million dollars in sales. Carol also devotes her time using her success in the hair industry to help others. She has provided her products and services to several businesses and organizations such as Beauty In Transition, The Prom Queen Project, and Street Walk to inspire and help men and women look and feel better about themselves.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit of your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up with my dad and my stepmother, who I call mom, my dad was a police officer, and my mom, a schoolteacher, so I grew up with disciple and structure. I was an average student, so my mom made sure I was involved in dance, music, drama, and cooking to make me a more rounded child, and to be exposed to the arts, I was always performing and entering cooking competitions. I have one sister and two brothers, and we are a very close family.

Can you tell us a story about what inspired you to become a natural hair advocate?

What inspired me to become a natural hair advocate, I was a model for a color class, and at that time, I was wearing my hair relaxed. Still, for some reason, after a few days of getting the color, my hair started breaking, and so I had to do the BIG CHOP and decided to grow out my natural hair and style it the way I did growing up. It felt empowering as my hair grew. I was loving it, I realized just how difficult it was maintaining and managing my own hair. I decided to start marketing the salon as a natural hair salon to help others retain their natural hair journey.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting story that happened to me in my career is when I did the Big Chop and developed a beauty product line called St. Charles to maintain natural hair. The line consists of a hair mask, shampoo, and different types of leave-in conditioners.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact, perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

My word of advice to others who may want to embark on this career path is to hold on to your dreams. Cosmetology is a very broad field; find your area, whether it is working in theatre, on movie sets, in a salon, on stage as an instructor, find the area that fits you. Another thing to remember is that your skills can be developed; just be willing to learn and stay fresh with your techniques.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. How to feel beautiful…..In this time of COVID 19 and with nowhere to go and not too much to do, put together a formal photoshoot for yourself with a photographer…this will give you a lovely opportunity to get all dressed up, have your hair and makeup done, and just start to strike a pose.
  2. Getting a haircut and color will surely make you feel beautiful. When the salon reopened to receive clients after they shut down, my clients enjoyed their new looks and felt beautiful again.
  3. Telling someone how beautiful they make you feel beautiful.

Can you share some of your techniques about how to best maintain natural hair?

Some of my natural hair technique to maintain natural hair is to keep your hair and scalp clean. Try using a moisturizing shampoo weekly. Use a daily leave-in conditioner on your hair and scalp; this will help make your hair more manageable and not dry. Use a very natural oil like olive oil or grapeseed oil on the scalp. Deep condition every 2 weeks with a hair mask.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can help articulate to our readers your “Five Things You Need to Understand About Hair Discrimination.” If you can, please share a story or example, for each.

Discrimination on our natural hair comes from both blacks and whites. Often it is hidden and subtle. During slavery, natural hair was extremely ridiculed. Dark-skinned slaves with tighter, kinky curls received the worse treatment. Lighter-skinned slaves, descendants of slave owners, had softer, looser curls and better treatment. It caused discrimination between lighter-skinned blacks and darker-skinned blacks; thus, hair discrimination comes from way back.

Natural kinky hair was very important during slavery times. Did you know that the cornrow and the braiding style patterns often mapped out escape routes for the runaway slaves? I smile when I think about that just how brave and smart my ancestors were always fighting back.

The stigma towards natural hair is still happening, and it is unbelievable to me. We have gone from “I am black, and I am proud” and “Black and beautiful,” and still Black Women are labeled as unprofessional and unaccepted with some of our hairstyles. We are judged for the way our hair grows naturally out of our scalp, some hairstyles are called Ghetto, or we are asked, “why is your hair like that” or “can you comb your hair” but when these same styles are worn by white women it is acceptable and called trendsetting and beautiful.

Let us not leave our children from this conversation, because they too are discriminated against in school over their hairstyles, boys and girls. This is very disturbing for kids to be exposed to this, creating self-hate at such an early age.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My Life lesson Quote is “Grasp Life Like The Man of Brittle,” my mom would always say that to me when I came home from school complaining about an issue. Can I say another one? “There is No Such Word as I Can’t” those two quotes have lifted me up, strengthened me, and carried me as I take my steps through this life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Jennifer Hudson, I Love me some Jennifer Hudson, I sang on my school and church choir, and yes, I had solo parts. I wish I had a voice like hers, and not only that but after she went through that tragedy, it appeared as if she “grasped life like the man of brittle “she lifted herself up and continued with her life.

How can our readers follow you online?
Contact me:
Twitter: @justbecausehair
IG: justbecausehairnyc @stcharleshair
Website: www.justbecausehairtherapysalon.com
www.stcharleshairnyc.com
Phone: (718) 722–7810

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!


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