The British Beauty Council has three pillars Education, Innovation and Reputation; within our Education Pillar, Sharon Lloyd has been appointed as the Race & Equalities Advisor.
You’ve been working in Higher Education since joining Southampton Solent University in 2007. What made you want to become an educator?
My original intention wasn’t to become an educator, I followed my heart and wanted to pursue a career as a printed textile researcher. However, my scholarship was on condition that I also did some teaching, and it slowly became the thing that I enjoyed more than the research. I look back now and recognise that I teach because I love engaging others in learning, in finding new things in old books and turning ideas on their head. It is always important to ask why, which as you get older becomes why not?
As the programme leader for MA Make-up and Hair Design Futures, BA Make-up and Hair Design, BA Special Effects, and BA Prosthetics and Special Effects at Southampton Solent University, you have a lot of experience with both existing and aspiring students. What advice would you give to someone who wants to study make-up or hair at university?
Do it because you love it, because it makes you excited and want to explore your creativity, not because you want to make other people happy. I think you have to be quite selfish to be an artist, and continue to get out there with your talents, even when doors close. Often the struggle to be seen only makes you more determined to continue learning your craft. Do it because you have got something to say about how we present ourselves to the world, and you want to make change. And then there is the dilemma and disorder which you should embrace both literally and figuratively – designing for different skin tones, hair types and age groups can be quite a chaotic business both creatively and emotionally – the struggle is real people! Studying a degree can provide the tools to deal with the process you have to go through to get there.
The beauty industry has been hugely impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic; there has also been a clear impact on students across educational levels throughout this time. How has COVID-19 impacted the method of study across your programme portfolio?
The resilience and fortitude of the students has completely taken me by surprise. I am so proud of them. In response to Covid-19 we are currently delivering a blended learning model where we have a limited range of small workshops in studio, matched by additional virtual workshop delivery. This allows us to provide the majority of seminars and lectures online. Interestingly, in our virtual classrooms the focus has shifted to become more critical of practice, and students have a keener understanding of history and design processes using techniques in image construction. I really believe that the result of this new model of learning across Higher Education, will be a swathe of innovative designers who are going to provide a new perspective on what is beauty, and how we judge its worth.
Recently you have focused your research on issues relating to the body, identity, fashion and cosmetic delineation. How will your existing role as an educator help with your role with the British Beauty Council as Race & Equalities Advisor for Education Pillar?
In my current role as an educator I am in a unique position to conceptualise diversity and equality as a core strength, and to facilitate long term initiatives within a range of course programmes. The expedition of education brings enhanced experience and knowledge to the general beauty industry, but it is also important that it actively provides access to high quality careers advice and guidance.
Clearly social responsibility is core to the structure of the Education Pillar, and my role within the British Beaty Council is to ensure that emotionally and culturally considerate practice, and the empathetic knowledge of diverse clients/consumers and their needs is placed at the centre of intelligent beauty provision.
Fashion Academics Creating Equality (FACE) launched this year, with the aim to challenge Higher Education, Further Education and the Fashion Industry to be more inclusive, unified and equal. How did the concept of FACE start?
FACE began as a series of conversations between fashion and beauty academics, and it was increasingly apparent that the focus of our discussions was centred on the dearth of black culture within our curriculums, which were indicative of the paucity of diversity and inclusion within education in general. As a community of educators, FACE recognises the importance of presenting a broader contribution to our students in terms of culture, empowerment and practice. By excluding and marginalising the experiences of cultures outside of people racialised as white, we limit ourselves by holding back talent and avoiding opportunities for equity, and so we will work to improve the rates of recruitment and progression for underrepresented students and staff in education as well as the wider fashion and beauty industry. Within its manifesto FACE has several aims that focus on eliciting change in institutional cultures, processes and practices, and by engaging in conversations with likeminded academics across the sector I believe that we will be able to provide the platform to inculcate an unbiased and decolonised curriculum, as well as work towards real recognition for equality and diversity for students and staff in the FE and HE sectors.