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Amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and police brutality this weekend, Aurora James issued a call to action. The Brother Vellies founder and creative director launched The 15 Percent Pledge, an initiative calling on major retailers to commit to buying 15 percent of their products from Black-owned businesses. “So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. We represent 15 percent of the population, and we need to represent 15 percent of your shelf space.” 

James specifically called out Target, Sephora, Whole Foods, and Shopbop, among other companies. “Black people spend billions of dollars in this country every year but yet represent an insignificant fraction of how these four companies allocate their purchasing power and shelf space,” she tells Domino. “I’m asking these huge corporations to rethink their business strategies as well as rethink what brands they are partnering with.

If they value our money, then value us as well and show us that we are represented,” she continues. “I am calling for one small step toward economic equality.”

So far, James says she has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from her followers, including “consumers who are willing to make the pledge in their own lives in how they spend their money.” Some in the fashion community have been supportive, too, such as stylist Karla Welch and designer Rebecca Minkoff. And “we’re just getting started on conversations with the bigger businesses to ask them to sign and make this a reality,” says James.

Change isn’t just in the hands of high-up executives. Today James launched 15percentpledge.com, where individuals can sign up and show there is a demand and support for the initiative. You can also text PLEDGE to 917-540-8148 to take part and put pressure on retailers to support Black-owned brands.

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