The guests on my show never fail to amaze and inspire me, and Heidi Herkes is no exception. She is right up there with the very best of them. As a young woman, she travelled extensively around the world running her own high end bridal and make up company—from Sydney to Dubai, Berlin and the US. She worked at incredible venues making her clients look and feel amazing, until one day, she suffered an unimaginable life changing event that meant Heidi was forced to rethink everything she ever knew.
After falling down a flight of stairs, Heidi broke her neck and became paralyzed from the chest down. From what Heidi calls her ‘ground zero’, she has rebuilt her life and career and launched her own unique consultancy, helping women from all different backgrounds, shapes and sizes to discover who they really are, though embracing individuality and diversity. I met Heidi in her beautiful home in Finchley North London where her ever present smile filled the room.
“You realize when you wake up in a hospital bed and you’re having to be turned and everyone’s doing everything for you because you can’t physically lift your hands or your arms to your mouth—that’s when the horror starts to all unravel.”[6:45]
Heidi looks at her fall as a before and after situation. She looks back on her life and is proud of where she got to, but she feels now that she’s hit a milestone. She needed a certain amount of resilience to fight the obstacles she needed to overcome—and she had built that resilience up through her whole life. She couldn’t handle the thought of not doing anything, so she’s found creative outlets to look forward.
“You can look good, but you also need a bit of a personality to go with it. I just don’t understand why people take themselves so seriously—it’s really not necessary, just have fun with it…these people spend hours in front of the mirror to look good and have all these apps and filters, but then they won’t leave their house.”[21:40]
When in the hospital, Heidi realized that she wanted to still look good as well as feel better. Using hair and makeup as a measurement for that for most women, and a practice close to her own heart, she found that using her hair and makeup skills to help people retain or find their identity. She’s set up a styling company and is helping people from all walks of life look and feel how they should.
She’s pushing the importance of fashion for disability through YouTube now, using it to inspire and motivate with a series of videos that highlight survivors of trauma and how they’ve moved on through style. Keep your eye on her channel because she will be adding to it while working with different brands, including Dove and an interior designer, Sera of London.
Heidi meets in person for styling sessions or over Skype, and then she’ll go personal shopping and check your wardrobe for edits and updates.