Ben Sylva, a very humble guy, is an award-winning hairstylist. He emerged the best hairstylist at the Nigerian Television Fashion Show (NTFS) Awards in 2009. In this interview with DAVID AVWUNUVWERHI, he talks about the nation’s growing fashion industry, challenges faced by hairstylists and other issues

Why did you choose to be a hairstylist?
It all started from my childhood. At an early age, I was already making my mother’s and sisters’ hair. I felt in love with women’s hair at an early age. Apart from this, I’m always inspired by various sophisticated hairstyles that make ladies beautiful and attractive. As a child, whenever I came across sophisticated hairstyles, I was always curious to know how they were made and why they looked so attractive. To satisfy this burning curiosity, I worked hard to become a professional hairstylist. Of course, as a teenager, I didn’t know how to achieve the feat. My parents wanted me to become an accountant, but my love for hairstyles really propelled me to choose it as a profession.

What were the challenges you faced at the outset?
One challenge I faced as a hairstylist, which I can vividly remember, was really a bad experience for me. I had been contracted to make the hair for a certain lady who was preparing for her wedding. While I was working to give the bride a really beautiful hairstyle, the bridegroom came into the room and slapped me for touching his future wife. It was really a bitter experience for me. But I overcame the trauma by seeing the man as one of the difficult people I would come across in the course of my job. It also made me to realize that a hairstylist must be patient and disciplined to excel in the industry.

Do you have clients who are celebrities?
I have been involved in beauty pageants, which featured a lot of celebrities in the past. They include Miss Telecoms, King and Queen of Itire and the Nigeria Television Fashion Show (NTFS), which made me very popular. I have been making the hairs of some of the hottest celebrities in the country, but I do not want to reveal their names.

What does it take to be a hairstylist?
The job requires energy and patience. Also, a hairstylist must be disciplined and tolerant of others. If these attributes are absent, he may not be able to get the cooperation of his clients, which is needed to deliver the best results. Any hairstylist, who wants to succeed in his job, should always remember to take his client as a king.

What else would you have been if you were not a hairstylist?
If I had not fallen in love with the job of a hairstylist at an early age, I would have become a model, but I would have needed to be at least six feet tall to achieve the feat.

Have you participated in any fashion contest in the past?
Yes. That was the NTFS Awards, where I was nominated and finally selected as the country’s Best Hairstylist in 2009.

How will you describe the future of the Nigerian fashion industry?
I can tell you that the fashion industry in Nigeria will soon move to the next level. This is because of the efforts of top-class hairstylists in the country. Also, the up and coming ones like me are working hard to become as sophisticated as the established ones.

What is your advice to your teeming fans?
I love my fans and I want them to always maintain their self-dignity. They should also follow their hearts in all their endeavours and ensure that they are on top of their talents at all times. This is exactly what I have done over the years.

What are your childhood experiences?
I’m the last child in a family of five. I grew up amidst love and peace of mind provided by my family. I loved fashion and creativity as a teenager and this has paid off for me in the industry.