Designer Aurora James Calls On Major Retailers To Make 15 Percent Pledge To Black Businesses

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Designer Aurora James proclaims that stores, including Target, Sephora, and Saks should purchase 15 percent of their products from Black-owned businesses. 

After the death of George Floyd, methods on how to achieve racial equality across industries and institutes started rising throughout social media. On May 29, Aurora James, founder of the label Brother Vellies, took to social media with an idea to show support and equality to black lives.

The 15 Percent Pledge consists of three steps. The first is that a company has to stock the percentage (15) of contracts and shelf space to a Black-owned business. The second step is to take ownership of its findings and rooting out biases within their own company. The final step is to take action. For more information on the 15 Percent Pledge, you can check their Instagram.

 

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@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot 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 sponsored 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. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.

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The first industry to become part of the manifesto is Sephora. On an email to CNBC, Artemis Patrick, Sephora’s cosmetic retailer’s executive vice president, and the global chief merchandising officer said they recognize the opportunity James’ manifesto could bring. More industries are joining the pledge and setting concrete measurable goals.

The second company to join the movement was Rent the Runway. The online service for fashion rentals pledges to increase the representation of Black designers from 1.5% to 5% within a year.

 

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As we announced last week, we’ve started the important work to enact change within the fashion industry and beyond. Being transparent about where Rent the Runway is today is critical to moving forward. That’s why we’re sharing how we show up to the world across our creative productions, marketing and designer and ambassador communities – and where we want to be. We are proud to have made strides in some areas, and we have much more work to do in others. This is just the start. Inspired by @aurorajames’ #15PercentPledge, we announced that we are focusing on increasing Black representation across our channels and partners, from the models and styling talent we hire, ambassadors we work with and the people we’re representing on our brand channels. We’ve also announced that we’re allocating $1M to support and expand Black brands and designers in our Unlimited Closet – especially new brands that have not had the capital to launch on their own – through design, data and financial resources. We’re committed to use our platform to uplift talented, yet historically underrepresented Black designers to help bring the exposure they deserve. In the coming weeks, we will also pull up and publicly share this same detailed breakdown of RTR leadership team, our Board and our corporate employees. We know we have more work to do, and we own that. We are committed to making our platform as diverse as the community we serve.

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Fashion companies like Rent the Runway have begun to realize the appropriation of cultures and racism that lie within their industry. We are thrilled to see that they have started taking things into their own hands, giving us hope for the future. Support for Black-owned businesses is essential in ending the racial disparities we see in major retailers. You can visit supportblackowned.com to find Black-owned businesses near you.