Brother Vellies’ Aurora James is reworking the style business from the within out

Brother Vellies is more people-oriented than product-oriented, and its supply chain hampered by COVID-19 has not fully recovered. “I refuse to get stressed about it,” says James. “Fashion has been about speed for so long, but I want a new model that we can wait for. I’m not going to burden people because we want a pair of pink vellies. These people are busy taking care of each other. “

After starting a successful company, James did not retire. In May, amid protests against Black Lives Matter, she launched the 15 percent pledge, urging companies to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned companies.

Brother Vellies in Brooklyn.

Its first signatories were no less than Sephora and West Elm. Since then, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Gap have also joined. The name – 15 percent – is “a rough correlation to the percentage of blacks in America,” says James, and represents “a fairly aggressive target”.

“Most retailers devote less than 2 percent of their shelf space to black-owned companies,” she says. “It won’t happen overnight.”

In typical millennial fashion, James kicked off the campaign on Instagram, where it quickly went viral and became a full-fledged nonprofit for which it is now recruiting eight team members. Signing the Pledge is a three-step process that begins with reviewing and reviewing shelf space, posting the results, and then increasing the inventory of black companies.

And while James originally started the idea with retailers, she insists that any company can join. “Howl [a user review site, similar to Google Reviews] were an early slip of the tongue, but they don’t have a traditional “shelf,” ”she says.

“That’s why they put a filter on their website that allows companies to identify themselves as black-owned companies so that customers can support black companies in their communities.”

Fashion is, of course, prone to fads, and James admits he is concerned that support for the 15 percent promise may be lost. Because of this, she built longevity into her plan by getting companies to sign contracts.

“I understand that people have different mood boards in every season. So I wanted to make sure this was part of people’s DNA, not just the show notes for a particular time of year, to use the fashion language. “

These memoirs should appear this year. “We were trained as women to believe that we have to be a certain type of person to be successful,” she says, “and my story is very different.”

The April issue of AFR Magazine will be out on Friday March 26th The Australian Financial Report. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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