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Shoe Designer Aurora James Challenges The Fashion Community With "15% Pledge" To Demand Support Of Black-Owned Businesses

"We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space."

As protests continue across the country following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more, the nation is grappling with its long history of systemic racism. And as various industries make public promises to "do better," Black creatives are starting to hold retailers accountable by having them pledge better support to the Black community.

Aurora James, designer and creative director of Brother Vellies, took to Instagram this week to ask big-box stores to invest 15% of their shelf space in-store and online to Black-owned brands. The request, she points out, is a direct reflection of America at large.

"We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space," James wrote in her caption.

James started a separate Instagram account and tagged a series of larger retailers highlighting the disparity in business loans, wages, and the long-term effects of the pandemic on Black-owned businesses.

"I am calling on businesses of all sorts and consumers to look at this economic pledge in 3 parts," says Aurora in her post. 

1) Auditing and taking stock of where you are at. Look at your existing shelves, hangers, boardrooms and receipts. How many Black-Owned businesses are you buying? How many Black Women are in your C-Suite? 

2) Take ownership of where you’re at - ideally publicly. Maybe only 2% of your staff is black, 1% of your content, whatever it is just own it. Accept it. Take accountability. .

3) Commit to growth. What is your strategy to get to a minimum of 15% and how do you plan to be held accountable? 

Those who support the pledge can contact retailers asking for better representation in their stock, sign the petition, and take the pledge themselves. You don't need to be a big business to make Black-owned businesses a part of your regular spending habits, either: Use your own personal platform to spread awareness of these issues and encourage the places you shop to do the same. Find out more about the 15 Percent Pledge here.

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