Aurora James

WGL 2021-Aurora James
Stephane Cardinale—Corbis/Getty Images
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    15 Percent Pledge

Aurora James, a fashion designer and founder of the brand Brother Vellies, responded to last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement by taking a hard look at her industry: retail. Since then, she has persuaded major companies including Gap and Sephora to sign on to what she christened the 15 Percent Pledge. Those retailers promise to devote 15% of their billions in purchasing power to Black-owned brands, giving many of those brands unprecedented access to nationwide shelves. Meanwhile, her movement has continued to draw attention to retailers who haven’t signed the pledge—and highlighted where their own actions to support Black businesses have fallen short. Her continued pressure on the industry encourages many power players to translate words to hard cash—and means that last summer’s corporate promises won’t be forgotten. As of early May, about 20 brands had signed the pledge.