Carol Thomas’s hair salon is close to the Whitman Houses — both physically and spiritually.
Carol Thomas knows hair. Her clients come from as far as Delaware to seek her advice at Just Because Hair Salon, the Carlton Avenue follicle clinic that Thomas has owned since 2007.
But Ms. Thomas also knows her neighborhood. A Jamaican transplant, she’s lived in Fort Greene for more than 20 years. Every day, kids from the Walt Whitman Houses across the street walk by her salon — so Ms. Thomas makes sure to keep the window treatments attractive and the interior warm and welcoming.
“I try to keep the space looking beautiful to inspire that kid from city housing that she, too, can open her own business,” said Ms. Thomas.
In 2008, Ms. Thomas started the Prom Queen Project to help girls from the community look their best on the big night. Each year, she invites five or six college-bound girls from Susan S. McKinney and Benjamin Banneker high schools to receive head-to-toe beauty treatments. In past years, local businesses and patrons donated clothes, shoes and money. One year, Rep. Yvette Clark rented a limo for the girls.
Ms. Thomas does something a little different each year. In 2011, she hosted etiquette classes. The girls learned how to apply make-up and choose well-fitting clothing. They had their portraits painted and practiced fine-dining table manners.
“She feels like if she teaches them about grooming and manners, that will help them throughout the rest of their lives,” said stylist Donna Norris, who has worked at Just Because since it opened. “Her idea is that they really get something valuable out of the experience.”
Sometimes girls from past proms drop by to say hello to “Miss Carol.” Others give her a shout-out on the salon’s Facebook page. The most important thing for her, said Ms. Thomas, is that they pay it forward.
Just Because Salon, 141 Carlton Avenue at Park Avenue, (718) 722-7810.