Saturday, May 25th

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Hotseat - Vanessa Castor

841_HotseatSt. Maarten born hospitality student Vanessa Castor loves making others look beautiful. The 22-year-old gives insight into her world in this week's Hot Seat.

Where were you educated; and what did you study?

I attended the Methodist Agogic Centre primary school and obtained my high school diploma from Learning Unlimited. I am currently attending Johnson and Wales University, North Miami campus, majoring in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Management with a concentration in Sales, Event and Meeting Management. I chose this field of study because this is what my island thrives on. I intend to return and make a change.

How do you plan to contribute?

Tourism on a whole is about making people happy. We cater to them hands and feet, figuratively and literally speaking. I want to make women feel good about themselves as well. A higher self-esteem will give off the right energy to create better relationships in our society whether it is at work, home or school.

How did you discover your love for hair?

It's a funny story actually. When I moved to Miami, I needed my hair done and I didn't know of anyone. I decided to try to do it on my own, recalling what my hairstylist in St. Maarten would do. I eventually got it right and everyone at school liked my hair. I started getting requests to colour, relax and style hair and later to do sew-ins. The first person who trusted me to do a sew-in was a fellow St. Maartener, who was also attending Johnson and Wales. From there, I came across virgin hair. I had heard about it years before at a hair salon, but had never paid any attention until then. I came to St. Maarten on vacation with my extensions, custom coloured by me of course, and there was an influx of questions and demand for the product. At that time, it was still relatively new to the island. My boyfriend suggested that I look into buying and selling and this is how I began my very own company – 5Star Virgin Hair.

What is virgin hair?

Hair that has been derived from the temples of South India which has not been chemically processed or treated; hence the term virgin.

Explain your hair colouring.

Hair colouring was a trial and error process for me until I got it; it was a self-taught trait. It's a meticulous process where chemicals are used to change the existing colour of your natural hair or hair extensions.

What's been your most outrageous colour request?

I will say the colours of red, orange, blonde and black were the most outrageous because all three colours were installed at once.

What's your personal favourite hair colour?

I honestly don't have a personal favourite, but I recently tried orange and absolutely loved it.

How can people secure your services?

People can reach me through facebook, email or phone. Our website is coming soon: www.iluv5starhair.com

About how many heads of hair do you colour in a given month?

Hair colouring gets busier during Carnival, summer and Christmastime when people unleash their desires for boldness. I can't even put a number to it then. I do this simply because I love it. Many of my associates call it an obsession when it comes to hair. I lust at the simple touch of a new bundle.

Will you return home after college?

Yes. The reason why is quite simple. St. Maarten has partially financed my education and made it easier for me to study abroad. The least I can do is repay my country by sharing.

Will you work with hair while engaged in your career choice?

I most definitely plan to combine my work with hair while engaging in my career. I am a woman of different titles wearing many hats. All is possible with the belief and determination to do so.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself happily married to the love of my life with one or two children who will probably be saying, "Mommy stop colouring clients' hair and comb mine."

Top three dreams?

I would like to participate in the Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta, one of the biggest; with God's help, open an orphanage in Haiti (where my parents are from) and lastly, I will like to keep making my mother and father proud of me every step of the way.

Pet peeve?

It is highly unfavourable when packages with my hair extensions for clients are delayed by courier, bad customer service, liars and people who lack ambition.

Favourite music?

I listen to all genres, but I do find myself listening more to zouk, dancehall and soca. What can I say? I'm an island girl at heart – and ears too.

If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would invite my late father, Oprah and Toussaint L'Ouverture. I would have my mother cook us all diri sos pwa et legume which is a well-known Haitian dish (rice, stewed peas, spinach, carrots and squash) – my favourite.