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Aurora James’ Initiative Asks Retailers to Support Black-Owned Businesses

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As the fight against race-based inequality continues, many businesses are asking themselves how they can better support the Black community now and in the future. Founder of ethically-produced accessory brand Brother Vellies, Aurora James has an answer.

The New York-based fashion designer is calling on large retail stores like Target and Whole Foods to commit to providing 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses in an initiative she is calling the 15 Percent Pledge.

Why is it Important?

In James’ post announcing the program, she states, “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.”

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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.

A post shared by Aurora James 🦢 (@aurorajames) on

Furthermore, a brand’s commitment to this economic equality is just the first step in being a true ally to the Black community. “If [Whole Foods] were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers,” James explains. “Banks will take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. […] Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities.”

What Will the Pledge Do?

According to James, the 15 Percent Pledge has the power to put a collective 14.5 billion dollars back into Black communities. Not to mention, it will create more opportunity for customers to purchase goods from Black-owned businesses.

In order to get large retailers to take the 15 Percent Pledge, James is asking followers to demand that these businesses make a change. Because as 15percentpledge.org states, “Black businesses need your support today, tomorrow, always.”

Click here to sign the petition calling for large retailers to take the 15 Percent Pledge.

What other initiatives are you following? Let us know in the comments!