Rafaela Thomas – CaraBeautiful

Yasmine Regester | May 15th, 2019
Rafaela Thomas (Photos by JLG Creative Photography)

Rafaela Thomas (Photos by JLG Creative Photography)

Rafaela Thomas said her father always told her that education could take her anywhere she wanted to go. And he was right.
Her education helped her travel the world, become a high ranking officer in the Army, a licensed Family Nurse Practitioner and the owner of her own business, CaraBeautiful, a cosmetic dermatology salon in Greensboro.

Born in Panama, Thomas recalls her family moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was 10 years old and they didn’t speak any English. The seventh of eight children, she noted that her parents stressed the importance of education and the need for them to learn the language.

“I come from parents with third and fourth grade educations, but they instilled in us that it was necessary to get an education. We all graduated from high school, and went on to be successful in our career paths. So when you come from such a strong family unit, it inspires you to strive for more,” said Thomas.

She first established her business in 2016, and in February 2019 she was ready to move CaraBeautiful into Sola Salon, Suite 110 in the Friendly Shopping Center on Pembroke Road.

“Coming here from another country, I learned that the world has so much to offer. All you have to do is strive hard and do the best you can. My father always said, ‘No matter what you end up doing in life, you do the best you can and you be the best at it.’ So that is how I’ve always lived my life,” said Thomas.

Thomas graduated from the High School of Fashion Industries in NYC, and joined the Navy in 1978, and worked as a dental hygienist and assistant. She explained how she noticed that a simple procedure, like applying braces, changed a person’s whole outlook about themselves.

“For me, teeth and smiles and faces have always been a part of medicine that I enjoyed. Seeing the smile on a patient’s face in reaction to the change they saw would make me so happy. I knew back then that I wanted to work with faces,” she said.

Instead of pursing dentistry, Thomas said her sister convinced her to attend school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 1992. She enjoyed it so much, that she went on to become a Registered Nurse (RN) in 1994 with an associate degree from Miami Dade Community College. She continued with her education and received her Bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1996 from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She also holds a dual Master’s degree in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is accredited through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She became a Nurse Practitioner in 2004 and has been a long standing member of The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

At 59 years of age, Thomas is dubbing this next journey her ‘second chapter in life.’

“I’m calling this chapter two of my life. As I’m about to turn 60 years old, there’s nothing like being able to make people feel good with what you’re doing. I’ve spent my medical career treating inner health, everything that makes you feel good on the inside – but now I want to help people feel good about their outside.”

The name CaraBeautiful loosely translates to “beautiful face” in English, a nod to Thomas being bilingual. “In Spanish ‘cara’ means face and ‘beautiful,’well, it speaks for itself,” she said with a smile.

At CaraBeautiful, Thomas provides Botox and dermal fillers. Each product requires a different procedure that is placed in different areas of the face, and both are temporary results. Thomas ensures she provides detailed information to each client about the procedures and what to expect. “It is very important that you are truthful of your medical history, as this is a medical procedure,” she added.

“It’s important for me that I spend time educating the client when they come to see me. I like to explain the products, the techniques, and help them understand that everyone’s results will be different. And it’s important to me that they leave here satisfied. That they’ve received the best care they can have,” she said.

CaraBeautiful also offers free consultations. Thomas takes appointments and walk-ins in her salon daily, from 9am – 7pm, and even makes house calls to accommodate her clients busy schedules. She also welcomes groups or individuals for a session.

During her more than 18 years in the medical field, she has worked in emergency rooms, health clinics, and traveled to Arizona and California to help provide medical services to low income communities as a nurse practitioner. Her 27-year military career allowed her to take residence in Spain, Europe, Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, where she worked at the naval hospital for seven years in Jacksonville. She now ranks as a Major in the US Army, and plans to retire soon. As a Reservist, she spends two weeks a year on active duty, and one weekend a month for training. Major Thomas was also called to duty during the Irag war.

When she is living as a civilian, she works as a nurse practitioner in preventative medicine, but is working on transitioning CaraBeautiful into her full-time passion, which is helping people, particularly women, feel good about themselves.

“I always advise women to invest in themselves. We can have a closet full of shoes and clothes, some of it we’ve only worn once, and then we throw it away. But we wear our faces every day. You don’t put that in the closet. That’s the difference in how we invest in ourselves,” said Thomas who shared that even she gets filler injections.

“It’s not just a matter of giving it out either,” said Thomas. “I’ve decided how I want to look. And I have no problem with that.”

Thomas sees a range of women in her practice, from 25 years of age, all the way to 75 years old. It all ranges based on a person’s needs. “As we age, we’re going to have changes. We lose volume in our face. We start to see lines and wrinkles form. We see the change in our faces and now we realize we can do something about it. I tell women all the time it’s not about looking younger, but to give a smoother, softer appearance. That’s what I intend to give them,” she said.

While about 75 percent of her clientele has been women, Thomas noted that she is slowly starting to encounter more male clients who are interested in facial treatments.

“It all comes down to education on the topic. People aren’t sure they can have that. Or they think that it’s not acceptable. Or they are worried about what other people will think. But there is a solution. Just like there is medicine for high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s a solution. And I want women to know that we don’t have to feel guilty about it,” Rafeala stated.

A woman of faith, Thomas shares how she woke up one morning and felt the spirit of God telling her to go pursue her dreams. “Faith is the basis of everything I do and the direction that I’m going with CaraBeautiful.”

In order to be a practicing aesthetician in North Carolina, one must be a medical professional and licensed by the state. She has attended multiple training courses and received certifications in Aesthetics in Botox and Dermal Fillers from Empire Medical Training and Aesthetic Medical Educators Training (AMET). These instructions assist her with keeping up with the latest techniques and products.

She first started working with family and friends and said social media has been her biggest driver for new clients. Thomas also contracts with salons and med spas who don’t offer Botox and dermal filler services. She said in the next few years she sees her business growing with a larger space, employees, and more availability for clients.

In addition to her career accomplishments, she is especially proud of her two daughters, Odessa Hancock, a small business owner, Lloyda Thomas, a teacher in Florida, and her granddaughter, Leslie Thomas. Her daughter, Odessa, designs the CaraBeautiful brochures and monitors the business web presence, under her company, Uprising, a digital marketing and consulting firm in the area. Thomas shared, “It’s important to me that we have this family unit. We are working together. I have a lot of strong family support, near and far and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them. We don’t have to stop because there are always goals to achieve.”

Thomas is a member the American Business Women Association of Forsyth County, the American Med Spa Association, a lifetime member of the Montford Point Marine Association and frequently attends Word of Faith Christian Fellowship in McLeansville, N.C.

“My greatest accomplishments have been serving this country, reaching the rank of a Major Medical Officer, being a nurse practitioner and finding my greatest passion in life, which is CaraBeautiful. Coming to CaraBeautiful is not work. It’s a passion to do what I do and I love it” said Thomas.

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