In an effort to make a long-term impact in helping the future of Black business founders, Aurora James, the creative director of CFDA-winning brand Brother Vellies, created a viral campaign called the 15 Percent Pledge. James recently issued a powerful call to consumers and big retailers to commit 15 percent of spending and dedicated shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
“I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black-owned businesses. So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” the designer explained on Instagram. Net-A-Porter, Shopbop, Walmart, and Saks Fifth Avenue are just some of the retailers James is calling upon.
The 15 percent hails from the statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau, that “approximately 15 percent of Americans are Black,” equating to nearly 50 million people.
While Sephora became the first retailer to sign the 15 Percent Pledge, followed by Rent The Runway, the public is still waiting for Target and Whole Foods to step up after over a week of radio silence.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, James explained that she has no plans to slow down when it comes to holding these larger companies accountable.
“This is a full nonprofit now, and we’re going to be holding these companies accountable and working with them to get to a space where they’re all super proud, which is amazing. Right now we’re in a space of shame, and shame is not good, so now we’re going to be transitioning into a space of growth and change and ownership and acceptance,” the designer explained. “I’m really excited to start building out grant programs and programming around the 15 Percent Pledge that are going to help Black future founders and Black businesses really be able to get into this pipeline and hopefully become a Fortune 500 companies [SIC]—if they want.”
“Not everyone wants to run a business that big. I hope that we will be talking again soon when Target or Whole Foods or Net-a-Porter or Shopbop take the pledge. I’m ready,” she added.
If you found this story helpful, you might be interested in 20 Black-owned fashion brands to support today, tomorrow and always.
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