The Future of Fashion: Caryn Franklin MBE talks to Sharon Lloyd Co-Founder of FACE

  • Sharon Lloyd

Caryn Franklin MBE talks to Sharon Lloyd, Course Leader at Solent University and co-founder of FACE. Course Leader MA Make-up and Hair Design Futures Course Leader BA Make-up & Hair Design Course Leader BA Prosthetics and Special Effects Design Course Leader BA Special Effects | School of Art, Design and Fashion Southampton Solent. Race & Equalities Advisor for Education Pillar | The British Beauty Council

Why is FACE a vital platform for academics?

FACE has given me the conviction to use my voice and the language to affirm my position within Higher Education. Engaging my colleagues in the importance of voting for a more diverse GFF trustee board has been one of many ways I’ve asserted my opinions.

In the past, I would have felt reticent to broach a conversation such as “C’mon guys we need to vote Black academics to the table.” But now I hear myself say “Greater numbers of Black academics round the table is a must. It needs to happen.” The adoption of active language has had to be learned in a collegiate environment. I have recognised that we all need to use the active, whatever environment we are in.

What have you learned about yourself?

FACE has been a hugely empowering experience for me. At meetings we share the policies and practices of our various academic institutions that have traditionally oxygenated structural racism. We can see patterns. And now that we have spent time unpacking our own internalised experiences of racism in academia, we can see how we have shrunk ourselves to fit.

I’m managing the busiest degree in the University in fact I manage four degrees. With all the issues these entail, as well as negotiating a universal system that is biased and racist, I have my work cut out. I am very busy, but as a woman of colour, I’m also performing extra emotional labour. For instance, I have always self-edited in case I might come across as demanding or awkward.

It’s an example of the way that as Black academics we have internalised racism. In fact, for many years a key motivation for me was not wanting to be that difficult Black person in the room. It’s easy to see how historical and current environments encourage Black academics to self-sabotage. Extrapolate that across the country and it is no wonder that the figures for Black leadership and progression within education, are so poor.

What must leadership do?

There has to be some innovative thinking. My concern right now is the impact of Covid on education, specifically the progression and retention of Black and Brown creatives and academics. We know this group are being disproportionately affected by the epidemic through health and other deprivations. I am currently on the working group for the Race Equality Charter at my institution and we expect a drop in applications from Black students as a result. Where are the initiatives to prevent further inequalities from playing out? Why is this not being discussed with a critical voice right now? This is what Solent's REC aims to resolve.

Many of us have been attending EDI meetings and we are asking our white colleagues to consider structural racism and the advantages that have been built into the system for them as a result of white-centred leadership. But we need more tools. It’s painful for us all that institutions are lacking in resources and training to dismantle racism. Leaders need to implement dynamic ideas and actions now.

What conversations are you having with your students?

I am encouraging my students most of whom are white, to consider what issues and race implications come with the projects they are doing. On our make-up, hair design programme for instance, the need for an inclusive and contextual approach, grounded in race knowledge is vital. It means trying to explain to a student why, as a white creative, she needs to reflect upon her authority to produce a Black magazine. I’m still learning how to address these issues as they arise. In this case, I’ve asked my student to seek conversation with other Black creatives and then come back to me to discuss her findings.
I am working to inculcate an understanding of different cultural practices within the programme. We don’t just have Caucasian wigs or 'Emily' heads for hair training. My students are taught to investigate Black beauty ideals at the same time, so we also have 'Zara' heads. It’s obvious why they need to, but this was not always in place.

What changes are you seeing?

I have become the Race and Equalities Advisor in Education for the British Beauty Council. Hair, make-up and cosmetics are areas of study that fall below the radar and so it’s really important to extend the conversation being had in fashion right now to other aspects of creativity. Many of the issues that are happening within higher education are also happening within further education. As a lot of people studying cosmetics don’t go beyond further education, so it’s important to have a more generic view-point of what can happen and what is possible within the industry. Alongside Advisory Board Member Ateh Jewel, we are placing inclusivity at the top of the agenda.

FACE is already expanding – tell us more

FACE members meet regularly but we also now have FACE community once a month, so that non-member students and academics can tune in. The point of FACE is to facilitate open and honest conversation about racial inequality and to share our aims. Face members have shaped and broadened the academic language to challenge race inequality as co founders Andrew Ibi and Pascal Matthias have outlined in previous blogs. In conversations with others we are sharing this language and we know we are empowering others to stand up and speak within their institutions. I’m really proud of the welcome anyone attending for the first time will receive. So join us on Instagram and look out for future meetings.