Charlie Craggs’ pop-up nail salon deals with transphobia head-on; she sits herself opposite a member of the public, paints their nails, and gives them the opportunity to talk to the trans community.
Read on for highlights from her Gradual podcast interview, including how she turned her Final Major Project ‘Nail Transphobia’ into a full-time job after university and how she went about publishing her first book, ‘To My Trans Sisters’.
*GradUAL is a podcast that explores the big questions and challenges that many new graduates will face. In each episode, we share unfiltered stories from creative professionals who make a living doing what they love. Search ‘Gradual Podcast’ on popular podcast platforms to subscribe and listen. Created by UAL Careers and Employability.
Part One: Into Education
Charlie talks a lot about her Final Major Project ‘Nail Transphobia’ which is now a very popular travelling pop-up nail salon that has been featured in museums, galleries, events and festivals around the UK. When Charlie’s old tutors get in touch with her on Facebook she often jokes with them about how wrong they were not to give her a 1st considering her Final Major Project was featured in prestigious Museums like the V&A (skip to 3:00 to hear the details).
Generally speaking after the degree show concludes final year students are free for a few weeks until they come back for the graduation ceremony. This is a proud moment
, and was especially so for Charlie. She grew up on a council estate and was actually the first person in her family and circle of friends to get a degree. Her graduation day should have been one of the happiest days of her life. Ultimately it was one of the worst, because that day was one of the first times she had left her house as Charlie. You can hear her expand on this at 4:30 minutes into the podcast.
Part Two: Into Work
Charlie had a pretty difficult time finding work after graduation. In fact she was unemployed for eight months, which she spent applying for countless jobs without any luck. During this time she kept up Nail Transphobia as a side hustle, and then Charlie started getting attention online. A website published an article about her experience transitioning, and from there everything snowballed. As Charlie puts it, “My phone was ringing off the hook”. She had constant press after that, and Nail Transphobia took off, becoming her full-time job. Hear more about Charlie’s experience dealing with sudden media attention at 6:00 minutes into the podcast.
Another highlight is at 18:00 minutes in, when Charlie talks about the collection of letters she recently got published called ‘To My Trans Sisters’. A book which is a distillation of advice from a variety of contributors, aimed at people transitioning. It’s the book Charlie wishes she had when she was going through the process.
Although Charlie never wrote a formal business plan she was quite clear on her goals from the get-go: firstly, financial security, and secondly to be a positive force for trans activism. She also nurtured her social media presence carefully (which was why her early press took hold so quickly) and in fact all of her bookings come through her social media. You can hear Charlie talk about the goals she has for her trans-activism in more detail at 21:00 minutes into the podcast.
Part Three: Charlie’s tips for students
1) Take advantage of the resources at uni:
Charlie really regrets not making the most of the facilities, library, studio spaces, wind machines and amazing cameras; “Don’t waste it, that stuff is so expensive when you need to use it out of university.
2) Network at uni:
Charlie recommends thinking about university as a time to build a network of peers that you can call on after graduation.
3) Don’t give up:
Charlie says that the people who make it to the top are the ones who didn’t give up. It’s not necessarily that they’re the best, “They win by default because they’re still there.” This is even more relevant for people working in niche industries like Charlie. You can hear her expand on this at 8:00 minutes in to the podcast.
Want to know more about what Charlie is up to? Follow her online:
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