In Conversation with Carol Thomas of Just Because Hair Salon

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Describe your business in a few words?

We are all about healthy hair care, with signature therapy hair treatment products and styling natural hair, braids, relaxers, extensions, and more.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I took the leap and started my own business to make a living. I was tired of working in a salon that would go out of business after being there for a while, leaving me scrambling to find a home for my clients. I needed to be stable.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Before starting my own business, I went to beauty school while working in a corporate setting. After beauty school, I worked as a salon assistant and then became a stylist to manage a salon to now owning my very own salon.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I had no plans to become an entrepreneur. I would have been happy working in a salon that I was comfortable in, but I had to take matters into my hand after a few salon closures.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When I first launched my salon business, my marketing strategy was more community-based. I created a Prom Queen Project, where we send girls to their prom, We provide them with a three-week mentoring program, finishing off with a luncheon, and on Prom Day, hair, make-up, dress, and even a limousine is provided. I did this for many years, and the story was picked up by the New York Times and the Daily News. Also, I created a Street Walk fashion show, using young high school girls and turning them into models for the day. This event became the highlight of the summer and was done right in front of the salon. Also, I was involved in hosting women from the shelter and offering them beauty services once a month.  Brooklyn 12 News carried the story. I also created a product line that’s called St. Charles and hired a publicist. The line has six pieces: Rebuilding Hair Mask, Destress Hair lotion, 811 Oil, Wellness Condition, Night Cap, and Cleansing Shampoo.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

The mistake I made was getting too comfortable when you see the business growing. You wake up one day to no clients or recently having your business closed down. I learned that you have to have more than one stream of business, and business can be done online. Having my salon closed during the shutdown made me realize I needed to start selling my products online and hire a professional to help bring awareness to the product line.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

The accomplishment I am most proud of is financing my nephew through college, and his mom died when he was at a very young age and helped my brother take care of him. It gives me great joy to see how much of a gentleman he turned out to be.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

My go-to interview question is to tell me about your family? I can tell from the way they speak about their family you can tell if they like people, salon business is a people business and you have to like them.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Well, the stay at home order left our industry with stylist and salon owners not having a paycheck overnight. COVID-19 was here, and just like that, on a Saturday at 8 pm, our doors were closed for three months, bills piling up, rent still needed to be paid, and we had no income. Now that we have reopened, COVID-19 is still here, but we are managing it, spending more on protective sanitary measures, and seeing fewer clients keep social distancing. A hairstylist with young kids has to work part-time because they have to be home with the kid for school, and some could not come back to work.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

What’s next for my business is more online hair consultations and selling more of St. Charles online.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 is “Be Kind To Yourself.” We spend so much time saying I am too fat or I don’t like my nose, my hair is too short, just silly stuff about ourselves. No more! I get up now and look in the mirror, and I am so thankful. Too many lost their lives last year.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I now know and wish I knew when I started my business not to stress silly things. For example, I wanted a circular business card and the mission statement printed in green ink on the card’s back. When I received the cards, they wrote them in black ink. I was livid and wanted them done over. I did not pay for that, I shouted! Now I think about that day, and I ask myself, WHY! Now with COVID-19 and everything is more or less touchless. I know how to go with the flow and stay working on taking care of your clients and targeting new ones. Just stay building your business.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I stay grounded by staying in prayer always, spending time with my friends on Zoom, and just laughing more. Finding Joy!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Yes, I believe in work/life balance, and some of my best tips are:

  • Take breaks to rest.
  • Taking time to enjoy a great lunch.
  • Try to take an afternoon walk to be out of the salon for a few minutes.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

They would be surprised to learn that I am scared of cats.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

My top 3 tips to stay productive:

  • I make a things-to-do list.
  • I have a good breakfast.
  • I look on social media to get inspired.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Entreprenista means having vision and determination and taking that risk to succeed and still stay fabulous.

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