Our People: Helen Biddle
Despite growing up in a small country town, Helen was interested in hairdressing from a young age; she was always playing with mum’s rollers (much to the horror of her younger sister, whose hair was practised on!). A love of hair runs in the family, as Helen’s grandmother was a hairdresser in the 1940s and Helen’s daughter is also a hairdresser at a top salon. It was during her boarding school years where Helen really found a passion for the trade and she enrolled at the Rotorua Hairdressing Academy in the early ‘90s and then onto Taranaki Polytech.
After completing her hairdressing training in Warkworth, Helen found herself managing a salon at just 19 years of age. After having children a few years later, Helen started a salon of her own, admitting, “My kids practically grew up in the back of my salon!” Helen then continued to work in the towns of Mangawhai, Wellsford and Warkworth, freelancing and working in salons.
In 2010, Helen ventured down to Auckland to “expand [her] horizons”. She continued to freelance and work in salons on the North Shore. In 2016, Helen was presented with the opportunity to start a career pathway in hairdressing education, after being inspired by a previous tutor.
Helen describes her role as hair tutor as “People management, growing skills and introducing new challenges to students, [teaching them] things they never knew were capable of.” These past few months have resulted in an alternative way of teaching, as tutors and students have adapted to working online during lockdown periods. Although admittedly very different to the usual practical, in-person method of learning, Helen says she was able to create stronger bonds with her students during this time.
“I love people. I love our industry. I love our students. I love watching and being part of peoples’ growth and development.”