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Meet: CLR

Written by Eleanor Harvey
Published date 28 September 2020

Officially launched at the end of July, CLR (pronounced colour) is a digital platform which features the work of creatives of colour, showing the range of underrepresented talent across various creative industries. CLR aims to connect communities while fostering creative relationships, encouraging their audience to Create, Listen and Represent.

We chatted with the founders, Jasmeen and Stefan both graduates from London College of Fashion (LCF), to find out more about the platform, and how you can get involved.

Photo of Jasmeen Hayer
Jasmeen Hayer, co-founder of CLR Caption

Jasmeen, you completed your BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding at LCF, before going on to study MA Visual Effects at London College of Communication (LCC) What was your experience of UAL like?

Studying at UAL is a very unique experience, whether it be the structures and locations of the buildings, the community of creatives you meet, the lecturers you get to know or the atmosphere within each corridor. The best part of studying at UAL was international influences and connections. When studying at UAL you’re lucky enough to meet a variety of different people with different skill sets and backgrounds from around the world, including both students and lecturers. This resulted in my two best friends originating from Canada and Norway, amazing people I never would have met, had I not attended UAL.

How did the Colleges' differ? Where there any similarities?

Comparing both colleges is quite difficult, due to spending three years at LCF (BA Hons) and one year at LCC (MA). LCF was an amazing experience with the JPS campus specifically being in the perfect location to study fashion; a step away from inspiration and creativity. I strived in my degree due to the encouragement of freedom and experimentation through projects accompanied by the hands on approach and mentoring from lecturers. This resulted in me graduating with a British Display Award for my dissertation, the highest award for Fashion Visual Merchandising in Britain.

LCC on the other hand was a different experience for me personally, with the class sizes impacting my experience (only two other students) also the mostly self-directed approach for lectures and assignments lacked the feeling of development and discovery. LCF and LCC are very different in regards to location and community however, both do feature exhibition spaces, which means there is always something new happening in the hallways and new faces to see, and both are always welcoming as soon you walk through the door.

Photo of Stefan Fernandes
Stefan Fernandes, co-founder of CLR Caption

Stefan, you also completed your BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding from LCF, how did you find your time at the College?

My time at College was incredible! For the first time in my life, I was around a group of peers from around the world who were all very creative and interested in fashion, design, art, architecture, etc. We had similar interests but originated from very diverse backgrounds. This allowed me to create a global group of friendships - many of whom I’m still in touch with today. My tutors were also incredible and they pushed us hard to push forth our best work by shifting our perspectives and encouraging us to think critically. All of this being said - moving from Toronto to London wasn’t an easy transition. There was much to learn, many new norms and of course the feeling of being homesick from time to time. Cheers to the late nights that turned into the early morning and the friends that turned to family. I don’t know how I would have done it without them!

What was a highlight for you during your time at LCF?

My highlight during my time at LCF would definitely have been my DiPS placement year. Between my 2nd and 3rd year, I lived in Northern Ireland where I was a Visual Merchandising Assistant for a menswear tailoring brand. Although the role was quite challenging, I learnt a lot about myself, and the industry. I was fortunate enough to travel around Ireland quite frequently for work. I was also able to implement a Visual Guidelines document which was a first for the brand. I had an amazing team and line manager who were both engaged and supportive in my development.

White box with photos of four people around the outside. Text in the white box says 'You are invited to join the digital CLR community. Join the mailing list'.

CLR is an online journal, focused on the concept of identity. How did CLR come about? How did the two of you meet and develop the idea?

The two of us met back in the autumn of 2015. We bonded during a university trip to Paris during our second term and remained friends throughout. We were privileged enough to study with a diverse group of students and found many similarities between our ethnic origins/backgrounds. Jasmeen is of Indian heritage - born and raised in England, while Stefan is of mixed heritage - born in Guyana but raised in Toronto.

Coming out of university, we found it hard to find ourselves physically represented in the industries which we were pursuing employment (fashion business and graphic design). Following the success, we found in academia and within our dissertation/final major project - we found it difficult to secure the type of roles that our resumes stated we were clearly qualified for. Truthfully it was a shock to the system and we felt disappointed and somewhat discouraged.

In turn, this led to a wider conversation around why we hadn’t found success. After researching and looking into professionals within roles that we aspired to - we soon realised that there was a severe lack of diversity within the wider industry. Neither of us could see ourselves reflected by those who held these positions. There seemed to be a lack of diversity in regards to race, gender and sexuality.

We soon realised that we weren’t facing this adversity alone. Fortunately enough, we were surrounded by a community of creatives, it was clear that the narrative was repetitive in creatives of colour and therefore, we saw a GAP that needed to be addressed.

The concept of CLR came about during lockdown/quarantine (May). Quarantine allowed Jasmeen the opportunity and time to be experimental and creative with her skill-set while freelancing and applying for positions, and in turn developed the idea for Digital CLR. The idea started with a few questions that Jasmeen created to send out to creatives in her circle to understand the experiences each individual shared. Having a flexible schedule during quarantine allowed us to then develop a vision, mission and scope for the journal. Planning and organisation took place via Web Calls, WhatsApp Groups, Shared Calendars, Shared Documents etc. Everything we built was self-taught, from our social media strategy to the way we recruited our team and the content we choose to deliver.

Blue background over newspaper cuttings. With the text 'CLR is accepting pitches' and the website

How can people get involved with CLR?

CLR is a London-based online journal that is focused on the concept of ‘IDENTITY’. CLR encourages our audience to CREATE without limitations and judgement, LISTEN and learn from those around you and REPRESENT who you are freely and unapologetically. Our platform is a space to feature and highlight the work of creatives of colour, showing the range of underrepresented talent across various creative industries. We aim to connect communities while fostering creative relationships.

The concept of identity is the foundation of our work. Therefore, some of the questions we ask our featured creatives during our Q&A include - What does the word IDENTITY mean to you? What does being SEEN mean to you? When was the first time you felt SEEN within your industry?

There are many ways for people to get involved with the journal. We are committed to sharing diverse stories and experiences on our platform therefore we encourage pitches from writers (see website), and those who want to be featured can freely reach out to us via info@digitalclr.com. We are also open to nominations from those whose stories you believe should be shared with our audience. In the coming months, you can also expect to see a membership area from us - this will include assets and documents to support the creative development of our community and audience. Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@digitalclr) and sign up to the mailing list for our newsletters.

What are your hopes for CLR going forward?

Our hope for Digital CLR is to create a safe space for creatives to collaborate, discover and share their stories. As we grow our audience, we hope to expand our team and eventually launch an annual print, followed by live workshops, talk panels and connection events.

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