Pietermaritzburg hairstylist Pretty Zuma defeated 17 other hairstylists from all over the country to win this year’s prestigious Sofn’Free HairXperts Masters Challenge.The Blu Gel Salon hairstylist took home the R250 000 grand prize and the Sofn’Free HairXperts Masters Challenge Award.This year’s HairXperts Masters Challenge theme was #HairVolution and stylists were encouraged to reference the past but also include present and futuristic designs for their styles.Going into the competition, which was held at Montecasino in Johannesburg, Zuma (35) said she was quite sure that she would win.“My styles were original and unique. They didn’t resemble anything seen on TV before. The other stylists were also good but I went into the competition well prepared,” she said.Zuma, who has worked at Blu Gel for the past 13 years, said she never thought she would have a career in hairdressing and only discovered her gift after completing matric.“I wanted a temporary job and was lucky enough to be hired at Blu Gel. Starting off I didn’t know much about hair but I have learnt a lot over the years and learnt that all hair is the same no matter what race a person is. I also loved meeting new people daily and making conversation with different people while I worked.” Zuma holds a four-year cosmetology qualification that she obtained while working at Blu Gel.Speaking about her future plans, Zuma said she will continue with her job at Blu Gel.“I love my job and can’t imagine leaving this place. The prize money will come and go but I need my job. I plan to use the money to better myself,” she said.Zuma advised other hairstylists and creatives to never look down on themselves.“A job is a job and all money comes out of the ATM the same. Never feel ashamed of your job and never allow people to undermine you because of the work you do. You can work at the salon or wherever but if you work hard enough, you could be earning even more than what government employees earn,” she said.