Helena Biggs
January 19, 2024

1.    What has been your proudest career moment?

There are two moments that stand out; the first being the launch of my book – Nail Art: Inspiring Designs By The World’s Leading Nail Technicians – in 2013. The opportunity came to me via my role at Scratch, as a publishing house had Googled ‘nail techs’ online and stumbled on the Scratch website. One of the editors gave me a call and explained that they were keen to jump on the nail art trend and launch a handy nail art book, and wondered who they should approach to author it. I started reeling off names – explaining how there were nail techs that specialised in different types of nail art, and who would be good for what… and I think I left the caller a little dumbstruck. A day or so later, she called me back and had rejigged the focus of the book. They asked me to author it; pulling together content about those various nail styles and who created them. I was delighted to be able to work deeper with my nail contacts from across the globe, and although it was hard work (9am-5pm working on Scratch, followed by 5pm-11pm stints on the book, for several months) it was worth it. The book sold 100,000 copies worldwide in six weeks, and the publisher asked me to write another two after that. Scratch followers were really excited by its launch and it was great to see so many nail pros recognised in the consumer realm.

Another career moment that makes me proud is the launch of the Scratch Stars Awards in 2009. The hair industry has always had its moment, and I felt it was time for nail professionals to be recognised for their varied skillset and focus on customer care. The annual awards, now in its 12th year, has awarded over 150 professionals and businesses across categories including Nail Salon of the Year and Gel Polish Stylist of the Year. We celebrate success with a big party in London each year, featuring entertainment and a celebrity host, and I’m so proud of the fair, transparent judging system that allows us to recognise this amazing – and deserving – talent.

2.    Who has been/is your biggest mentor?

Scratch’s co-founder and former editor-in-chief, Alex Fox, has guided me through my industry journey. I joined Scratch in 2009 when I was 21, and while we’ve never worked in an office together (she worked remotely – before it was a ‘thing!’), she supported my growth, helped me find my voice and is a continued support of the brand and my goals.

In addition, the marvellous Marian Newman BEM – or ‘The Queen of Nails’ as I call her, has always been on hand to clarify technical pointers or offer up advice when needed, either over text or a glass of red wine! The time she gives to others is so inspiring and there’s nothing she won’t do for this industry. She is so dedicated to the sector and its safety and growth and has achieved so much in her career – yet is always willing to support and share her knowledge.

3.    What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have ever received?

Be yourself – don’t try and be someone you’re not, or do things in a way that you don’t think is right. There can be many ways to approach journalism and engage an audience, but I can’t bear to be false. I’m a bit quirky and I enjoy a laugh – but I know what my job goals are, and I deliver them my way: professionally and in a personable way.

4.    Which training body would you recommend for someone wanting to enter your area of the industry?

As long as the course chosen is accredited by a reputable organisation (Habia, BABTAC, Beauty Guild etc), then it should meet sufficient standards for safe practice and great knowledge. It’s always important for pros to do their due diligence, however; research course content, ask questions and read reviews. You’re investing in your future, so make sure you choose an option that works for you and your goals.

5.    How do you make sure you stand out from the crowd e.g. up-skilling, research, social media?

A professional’s profile is so important in this competitive, creative industry. Find your niche – and promote the heck out of it. Whether you’re a perfect precision painter or you specialise in intricate or extravagant nail artistry, there’s a market out there for you – so embrace it with regular promotion across social media. Don’t be afraid to shout about your work and your skills. Partner up with local businesses to cross promote, and stay ahead of client requests by researching trends and participating in workshops and classes to continue your professional development and keep your skills updated.

Put yourself out there: people buy from people, so give insights about who you are and talk to your audience. Engage them and talk to them, and they’ll remember you over the 25 other nail pros they follow on social media.

6.    If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting their own business, what would it be?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare: you will get there eventually, but take your steps in a considered manner to avoid burnout. Also apply this to your nail creations and the way you deal with client requests. If a design is outside of your skillset or you don’t have the time/products for it, don’t attempt it until you’re confident. Be honest with the client and give them realistic expectations.

7.    What’s the best and hardest thing about your job?

The best is the variety I have in this job. Days vary between writing articles about inspirational business owners, visiting trade shows across the globe to uncover new products and to interview iconic techs, and organising events to reward pros. I also get to manage a lovely team of enthusiastic writers who care about this industry as much as I do.

My biggest challenge is trying to do everything within ‘work hours’. It’s hard for me to switch off – and social media makes it harder. But I love what I do, and I love talking to readers so the extra hours don’t phase me.

8.    How do you switch off after a difficult day?

I’m a communicator: I spend my work days emailing and talking (which I love!) so to switch off entirely, I need to avoid temptation to communicate further. I’ll admit, I struggle with this – but when I really need to switch off, I’ll go for a walk or put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode, watch something on Netflix that requires no brain power (and that I’ve probably seen several times already) and pour a large glass of wine. It's the simple things that are the most relaxing!

9.    Desert island 3 course meal?

This is oh-so 70’s but you can’t beat a prawn cocktail to start. Then a Spag Bol as main (with garlic bread on the side, of course), and then a chocolate crêpe with strawberries to finish; the perfect mix of savoury and sweet. And following all of that, a nap.

10.  Which 5 people (dead or alive) would you have at your dinner party?

Martin Lewis (as I’m sure by the end of the dinner party I will have gained enough knowledge to make my millions); Chris Hemsworth (for the eye candy –I know that’s fickle but he can sit opposite me so I can drool); Adele (because, well, it’s Adele and I reckon we’d have such a laugh), Gino D’Campo (he’s hilarious – and he can cook the dinner, as I HATE cooking but I love Italian food) and Jennifer Lawrence, because I think between me, her and Adele we’d end up leaving the dinner party and find ourselves in Vegas swinging from a roof. And Martin can bail us out of jail later.



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