Aurora James, Creative Director and Founder of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies and founder of the non-profit advocacy organization, Fifteen Percent Pledge, has long worked to make the global economy a more equitable place for historically excluded groups.
Founded in 2013, Brother Vellies began with the mission of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive. The brand supports artisan communities around the world, creating timeless pieces that celebrate different cultural histories and honor the individuals that make them through fair labor practices and job creation. The first Brother Vellies collection was a single style of vellies that Aurora sold at the Hester Street Fair in New York. Today, Brother Vellies has expanded into handbags and other accessories categories, including a home goods subscription service, Something Special, and continues to support artisan communities around the world. While no longer sold at the Hester Street Fair, Brother Vellies is sold at their flagship store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, online at BrotherVellies.com, and at retailers such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more.
In June 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Aurora founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a non-profit advocacy organization that has created a call to action that urges companies and individuals to make a long-term commitment to increased diversity and representation across their business practices and buying habits. Since its founding, the Pledge has signed 28 pledge takers including Nordstrom, Vogue, InStyle, Sephora U.S. and Canada, generated over $10 billion of revenue for Black-owned businesses and helped 385 companies launch their products with pledge takers. In recognition of her work with Brother Vellies, Aurora was a winner in the 2015 edition of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and was previously nominated for two CFDA Awards for Emerging Talent.
This year, Aurora was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, nominated for the CFDA American Accessories Designer of the Year award and will receive the CFDA Founder’s Award for her work with the Fifteen Percent Pledge.