Quantcast
Founder Aurora James On Normalizing Black Luxury & Directly Investing I​n Black Business
Culture & Entertainment

Founder Aurora James On Normalizing Black Luxury & Directly Investing I​n Black Business


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

ALSO ON XONECOLE
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next

Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.

Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.

KEEP READINGShow less
How This Wealthy History-Making Couple Found Love By Breaking The First Date Rules

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

Have you ever heard the saying, “You can't have it all?” Do you think there’s any truth to it? The more I resonate with the thought, I realize it just depends on what one considers “all.” In this “How We Met” story, I chatted with two individuals who have reached an unusual level of success but, for years, celebrated it alone. Now, they have a beautiful marriage centered around faith, family, and legacy.

But the journey to getting there required them to be uniquely intentional, submit fully to God, and practice an amount of vulnerability that I think most people would find uncomfortable – especially on the first date.

KEEP READINGShow less
LATEST POSTS