“Today I basically woke up in a panic because it was 7:15 am and what’s special about life on the West Coast is that you were hours ago,” he said Aurora James last week. Brother Vellies’ creative director called from Los Angeles, where a trip in late December unexpectedly turned into an extended winter escape. James had reason to look for a place that was less wounded than Brooklyn. When she proposed her concept for the 15 Percent Promise – an offer for retailers to support black-owned businesses relative to the US population – last May, the designer was at the forefront of a movement for change. James created a formal not-for-profit organization; Sephora signed up quickly, followed by West Elm, Bloomingdales and the high-end pharmacy MedMen. The artist Jordan Casteel James painted on a New York rooftop for one of the covers of the September issue of Vogue. A book deal came later that month: a treatise to be published by Crown later this year.
The slip to California was welcome. James has spent the last few months fixing her place in Laurel Canyon, helped by her boyfriend and a new pup, Mr. Chow. “Being at home and letting it be our nest is a really important part of self-care, isn’t it?” she said, describing an impulse that extends to Beauty Retreat, Brother Vellies’ new collaboration with Dove starting tomorrow. The limited accessories – all made of silk, a particularly hair-friendly material – are supplied with products from the Dove hair therapy range. A sea-green scrunchie complements the strengthening Breakage Remedy Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-On Treatment. A deep caramel scarf comes with an ultra-hydrating shampoo and conditioner kit. And for the root of good hair (and a good night’s sleep), James’ cream pillowcase is paired with a vitamin B3-fortified scalp care trio that she found “really wonderful and probably my favorite.” I turn it on every time, ”she said.
The Brother Vellies trio of silk accessories – pillowcase, scrunchie and scarf – was developed in collaboration with Dove.
James found she was rethinking her routine a few months after the pandemic. “I’m pretty regulated about the different things I do for my hair health, and one of them is making sure I have fish oil and all that good stuff. But I’ve really noticed that stress is affecting my hair, ”she said of an increase in dryness and breakage. On the way west, she’d used linen pillowcases by default, which can consume moisture. So she set about making her own silk version that would be at home in her airy LA bedroom. “As a woman of color, and especially a mixed race woman, my hair tells something of my family heritage and some of my personal stories, so I really try to get pleasure from taking care of my hair,” said James. Who is of Canadian and Ghanaian descent. (She looks at her hairdressers Nai’vasha and Michael Warren also being “like extended family members.”) Finding a low-key maintenance strategy that “felt like seamless integration was important to me,” she added. “That means making products that can be injected into the way I already live my life – rather than being an add-on [chore]. ”
It was not yet noon and James was already on the swing. “I had a call earlier today at Macy’s, one of the largest retailers that has committed to the 15 percent promise, about what initiatives they are working on over the next two months to better integrate black-owned companies into their shelf space . “She said. Her team refined a design for something special – a monthly publication (like an Oaxacan ceramic mug or a Kenyan carved wood comb) that goes out to subscribers. In between, James helped put together a floral arrangement with a florist.” Black ownership for a grieving friend. After we called, she would take the time to do some breath work and a letter. “There are a lot of different tasks to juggle,” she said of the professional, personal, and dog-related duties, all the more reason to take your own beauty vacation. Here are the essentials from James for handling from head to toe.
“I really love Sweetgrass. We sent it out with a dish a few months ago as part of our Something Special program [for burning]. There is a group of indigenous women we work with in America who actually pull, dry and braid the grass. You basically just light the end of the sweetgrass and it burns for 10 to 15 seconds. It lets off that really nice aroma and is also said to release some of the energy. “
WolfWalker Collection 26 inch sweetgrass braid
“Probably just a moment to rest my head on the pillowcase. Ideally, someone else will run their hands through my hair and I can just meditate on the experience. “
Dove x Brother Vellies set for dry scalp care and silk pillowcase
“I’ve worn a lot of Greg shoes – they’re Brother Vellies shoes, and they’re easy to put on. They come in leather and calf hair. “
Brother Vellie’s Greg Shoe in Grapefruit
Nourishing skin care
“Winemaker’s daughter. After getting out of the shower, I put a few drops in my hands and rubbed my hands together, and then I press them into my skin. “
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
“I read A Promised Land by Barack Obama, of course. It’s the same publisher that makes my book. The bar is very high. It’s both cathartic because it’s Barack and terrifying because there’s no bigger act to follow and no bigger shoes to fill. “
A promised land of Barack Obama
“Hanifa has this cardigan dress that I’ve been wearing around the house a lot with Cloud socks lately.” (The Lavender Sock supports an initiative to make masks and distribute food from Brother Vellies in Kenya.)
Hanifa Miya cardigan
Brother Vellie’s cloud sock
“I think everyone knows I like my coffee in the morning! And we have a new mug coming this month for something special. “
Grady’s Cold Brew Concentrate 6-pack
Plush home accessory
“Mister. Chow, my dog. He’s soft and mushy!”
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