Aurora James’ Subscription Service Will Change How You Shop for Artisanal Goods

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If Aurora James’ monthly subscription service, “Something Special”, isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Since launching the program back in April, the Brother Vellies designer has continued to wow us all with her curated selection of trinkets —including cloud socks and Oaxacan mugs —all ethically and sustainably made from artisan communities of color across the globe. Literally, each monthly find is more stunning than the last and her September “something special” just might be our favorite one yet!

The fashion designer took to Instagram on Sept.14th to unveil that a beautifully carved wooden hair pick sourced from Kenya would be this month’s special item.

“Several months ago we were able to start working with carvers across the country in Kenya,” James wrote in the post. “The Something Special program started out as an idea but has quickly turned into a major vehicle to support the artisan communities that have been so fundamentally important to me over the years. At a time when they need it the most.”

She adds, “This our 5th Something Special. I can’t say that it’s my favorite (that would be like choosing a favorite offspring) but it definitely feels like the biggest and most impactful one for so many reasons. So, without further ado … introducing September’s @brothervellies Something Special, from Kenya with love. P.s. If you’re not already signed up, you only have 4 hours. Otherwise, you missed this boat.”

But that’s not the only exciting news that James had in store for fans. In the comments section of her post, she revealed that last month she started fulfilling all orders from the only Black-owned shipping center in the country.

“P.s. Also excited to share that our Something Special program now all ships from the *only* Black owned fulfillment center in the USA. This is a super big deal to me and a switch we were able to make last month,” she wrote. “So excited to be learning and growing during this pandemic and ironing out the trouble spots but we’re getting there! One month at a time!!!!!”

A Black business owner herself, James has been super vocal about championing Black-owned businesses. Back in May, as a response to the on-going Black Lives Matter movement, the fashion founder called on major brands — from Whole Foods to Sephora  — to commit to sourcing 15 percent of their products from Black-owned businesses in a post on 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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Now, many months later, her 15 Percent Pledge has gone from a viral Instagram post to a full-fledged 501(c) non-profit with a three-step plan for retailers. According to the organization’s website, the 15 Percent Pledge hopes to “encourage the private sector —from Fortune 500 companies to individual consumers —to use their financial powers to create more equitable market share for Black-owned businesses.”

To support one of James’ latest initiatives, be sure to sign up for Something Special on the Brother Vellies website. For $35 a month, you can begin receiving special somethings in your mailbox by the 15th of every month. At the moment, the subscription service will remain in effect for six months but James has hinted at the possibility of extending the program to help her community get through these difficult times.

You can sign up for the Something Special subscription service here.

Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor, based in Georgia, covering all things hair at The Tease. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches.