Brother Vellies | Unfortunately, Aurora James’s life is hardly a “success story.” Or at least that’s not how the story needs to be told. She may have hit rock bottom when she was arrested after failing out of high school, having with her weight, and engaging in some street racing. She was a dreamer and an optimist, so she was able to see how that incident was only one of many that altered her outlook.
After dabbling in modeling for a while, James realized that the true power was in designing for the runway, so she launched a sustainable fashion line at a flea market, highlighting traditional African style. Then she started the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a social justice organization that has quickly grown in popularity. Nonetheless, none of this was motivated by a need to “succeed.” It was motivated by her ambition to explore uncharted creative territory while also lifting up those around her.
James, already a rising star in the fashion industry and the first Black American female designer to win a CFDA Award, was motivated to think more broadly about how to support Black business owners by the movement that swept the nation in the summer of 2020. The Fifteen Percent Pledge was started by her with just an idea and an Instagram post, and it encourages stores to devote 15% of their shelf space and purchasing power to Black-owned businesses. To far, over twenty of the most recognizable retailers in the world have signed the pledge, shifting over ten billion dollars in sales to Black-owned businesses.
Wildflower, the inspiring and emotionally-rich account of Aurora James’s life up to this point, is a call to action for those who are ready to make a difference.