In 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd and ensuing ripple of racial reckonings, Aurora James founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a non-profit that partners with retailers to commit 15 percent (roughly, the percentage of the population the Black community makes up) of their shelves and purchasing power to Black-owned businesses.
Participating retailers include Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta Beauty and J.Crew. What started as an Instagram has now spread to over 30 major companies. By 2030, the organisation aims to drive $1.4 trillion to the pockets of Black entrepreneurs and increase Black business representation in retailers by 14.6 percent.
The Toronto-native also founded Brother Vellies, a lifestyle and accessories brand rooted in sustainability and African design practices, in 2013. Brother Vellies has been worn by celebrities and activists including Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Elaine Welteroth .
James won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2015, and was inducted into the CFDA in 2016. In 2020, she won the British Fashion Award, was named to the Bloomberg 50, and made Time 100’s list of the 100 most influential people in 2021. She appeared on the 2020 August 2020 cover of Vogue.