Aurora James refuses to be quiet in the wake of tragedy and disappointment. In the September issue of Vogue, the Brother Vellies designer made it clear: Black lives do, and always have, mattered. For the 'Hope Issue', Vogue enlisted two contemporary artists to make paintings for the infamous September cover, Jordan Casteel and Kerry Marshall. Casteel, known for her works centered around families in the Harlem community, chose Aurora James as her real-life subject. But, this isn't James' brightest moment by far.
"I'm always going to fight for my company and for people that haven't had the same opportunities."
Aurora rose to mainstream airwaves after she won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2015, signaling to the wave of awareness developing amongst consumers at the time. Aurora was ahead of the curve with establishing a brand with important core concerns: racial injustice, sustainability, and equality. Brother Vellies is founded on artisanal craftsmanship and centuries-old techniques, inspired after traveling to African countries in 2011. The veldskoene, or vellies, is a rawhide design originated by the Khoisan people of Africa, and implemented in the founding of Clarks after the British invasion. There are few workshops in the world that continue this process of apparel manufacturing, with over 40 percent dying out due to used-clothing imports.
With workshops in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco, the brand provides for the real lives of indigenous black artists. Through Brother Vellies, Aurora is normalizing luxury by black designers. Every season and every collection for Brother Vellies has a mission and way of giving back to black artists.
"[It's] the idea that you can have his Black-owned luxury product made by indigenous Black artists on the African continent. And to know that by buying into this brand you're also investing in a micro-economy that is going to enable Black women to provide for their families and become financially independent -"
The Brooklynite designer pivoted quickly and wasted little time putting together an action plan to capitalize on rally cries and corporate outpouring for #BlackoutTuesday. From a wicker chair in her Brooklyn brownstone, Aurora launched the 15 Percent Pledge, an initiative calling the world's biggest retailers to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Since her viral message on May 29, Aurora has stopped at nothing to advance this message.
"I saw all of these people and companies saying how they stood with me and supported Black women and then as a businessperson. I was reading it but not feeling it - there was an emotional disconnect."
Above all else, Aurora has learned to invest in herself. With Brother Vellies and the 15 Percent Pledge, they came from a serious void in the real world. Through building her brand, becoming a well-known (and celebrity-endorsed) designer, and starting an equality initiative from the ground up, she continues to go back to one thing: you have to learn what works for you.
For the full Vogue cover story, click here.
Featured image by Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com
Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images