ASK THE TEAM: Helena Biggs, Scratch editor

By Helena Biggs | 28 July 2017 | News

Helena Headshot July 2017

Have you ever wanted to know more about team Scratch? Beauty intern, Meg Dobson, quizzes editor, Helena Biggs…

What is your role at Scratch?

I’m the editor of Scratch magazine UK, which involves keeping my finger on the pulse of new techniques, products and stories that are of interest to our readers and the wider industry. My role involves research, liaising with brand owners and nail technicians, planning timely features and managing a team to ensure we create useful, exciting and factually correct content for nail pros across our magazine, social media and web platforms.

I also work on initiatives with companies and brands to help raise standards in the nail industry and advise nail brands on how to effectively make their mark in the UK marketplace.

What drew you to beauty journalism?

To be honest it was  down to chance. After I’d got over the desire to be a lollipop lady at the age of six (yellow wasn’t my colour), I knew I wanted to be a journalist – but it took some time to decide on a specialism.

I went to university and completed a BA(Hons) degree in multi-media journalism, enabling me to experience a variety of areas. I actually worked in radio and TV, but the opportunities weren’t very stable – so I moved into print journalism as I’ve always had a passion for writing. I ended up working on a magazine writing about carpets and laminate flooring – which just didn’t excite me! I was covering a role there for two weeks when I saw an opportunity at Scratch magazine. I got the job and have loved every day since. That was over eight years ago!

Have you always had an interest in nails or has working at Scratch heightened this?

I had only every had one nail treatment before I started working at Scratch. I know – shock! I know a lot about nails, but when it comes to my own I’m hopeless! I’m not very neat, patient or precise when it comes to application – I leave that to the pros – but I have such a love for the industry and am fascinated by the chemistry, techniques and products.

What has been the highlight of your career at Scratch so far?

Oh there are so many! Every day is different and I love my job, especially being able to talk to and meet our readers, as we are fortunately a very close-knit industry. Within it, there is the sense of being part of a family; everyone knows each other and there is a lot of support, so that sense of community makes each day a highlight.

A major career highlight would be launching the Scratch Stars Awards, which have recognised so many people in this industry that deserve to be rewarded.

I’ve also interviewed a few celebrities and travel to the US annually. During one visit to LA, I had the chance to visit to a nail polish factory. I saw how polish is made and the packaging process, which was incredible to witness.

Which feature in the magazine is your favourite to write?

There are always so many features as each month there’s a new technique, product line or range to get my teeth into. However, I especially love looking at salon interiors and designs. I like seeing the different set-ups people work within. There is so much variety!

What has been your favourite Scratch cover?

A personal favorite has to be the September 2016 edition when we collaborated with the Nails:Mastered programme with Marian Newman. This opportunity allowed a technician from the programme to create their own front cover for Scratch. Elise Scholes-Pilkington’s design caught our eye and her concept came to life at a photo shoot. The image had a great meaning behind it and the theme of unity shone in a time when, politically, there was a lot of unrest.

If you were a trained technician and could to enter yourself into a Scratch Stars Awards category, which would it be?

It’s a popular one so I’d have no chance of ever getting to the final, but I’d go for Gel Polish Stylist of the Year. I love the medium. Whenever I get my nails done I always request gel polish and a crazy design.

Which latest nail trends have caught your eye – and which should be left alone?

I am quite open to being innovative and I admire all nail trends. Personally, as a wearer, I love just a really beautiful shape that is very natural, like an almond.

At the moment we are seeing a huge focus on the natural nail and enhancing it, so I like looking at ways to make it interesting – such as negative space within a design. I think the majority of the industry would be in agreement that bubble nails are not well loved!

What would you say are the key qualities of a successful journalist, and whad advice would you give to someone wishing to write?

A great journalist should have confidence in, and knowledge about what they write – and how they obtain this knowledge and check their sources. A journalist needs to be quite tenacious and able to tackle any tasks thrown at them – and work to deadlines. They hours can be irregular; a deadline needs to be met regardless of the 9-5!

I find that, particularly in the nail industry, it helps to be relaxed and chatty. If you’re relaxed, your interviewee will be too – and the more they’ll give to the interview.

Of course, you can’t be a successful print journalist if you’re not a great writer. An article has to serve a purpose, whether that be to entertain, inspire or inform, and it has to fit the brief and be appropriate to its target reader. It also has to be engaging. Combine those qualities and there’s the formula for a really successful journalist.