What is Aurora James' 15 per cent pledge?

Amy de Klerk
Photo credit: Nicholas Hunt - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

As well as weeks of demonstrations that have taken place across the world, the killing of George Floyd in the United States has also led to an outpouring of support from individuals, businesses and brands on social media for the Black Lives Matter movement, with many pledging to be better allies to the Black community and to help fight systemic racism. But of course, words aren't enough – and one fashion designer has an idea of how retailers can put their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting Black businesses.

Aurora James, who is the founder of NYC-based footwear label Brother Vellies, suggested on Instagram last week that one way in which shops and retailers could lend their genuine support is by pledging to buy at least 15 per cent of products from Black-owned businesses.

"So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power," James wrote. "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 per cent of the population and we need to represent 15 per cent of your shelf space."

James added that if Black business owners already had orders lined up with major retailers, banks would be far more likely to support them, meaning that "small businesses can turn into bigger ones".

"Don't 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 $3,500 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."

As well as setting up a petition (which you can sign here), the designer has also launched an Instagram account for the 15 per cent pledge, where she is gathering plenty of support from the movement from the nearly 30,000-strong following.

Although James' suggestion is aimed specifically at American businesses, her idea is certainly a great suggestion for a tangible step that retailers all around the world can now take in order to encourage and embrace diversity within their selection of product, helping to give real support to the Black community in the long term. Learn more about the pledge by following the account here.

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