Sephora becomes the first brand to take on the 15% commitment from Aurora James

When Aurora James founded 15% Pledge, a nonprofit organization that asks retailers to commit to dedicating 15% of their inventory to Black-owned companies, Sephora was one of the top four brands he directed. the engagement on June 1. “Sephora is such a large company, it has many stores and it is a very important point of contact for so many women, and I also know how innovative they are,” James tells Vogue. “I have worked with them in the past and felt that they were in a privileged position to make this change.” Today, Sephora became the first retailer to meet the challenge.

“We are inspired to make the 15% promise because we believe it is the right thing for our customers, our industry, and our community,” said Artemis Patrick, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Sephora, in an emailed statement. “Ultimately, this commitment is more than the prestigious products on our shelves. It starts with a long-term plan that diversifies our supply chain and creates a system that creates a better platform for the growth of Black’s proprietary brands, while ensuring that Black’s voices help shape our industry. We recognize that we can do better, and this promise builds on our continued work to use our resources to drive meaningful, long-term change for Sephora and our industry. ”

Together, James and Sephora have established a long-term commitment that will bring Black-owned beauty brands to Sephora stores and hold the retailer accountable for their commitment. “Part of why I created the 15% Pledge as an organization after I advertised it as an idea was so that we could go ahead and really hold them accountable and work with them to overcome the hiccups and problems that might come up the way. I have also committed to be a resource for some of these companies to help them run meaningfully, “says James. “That level of responsibility is exactly the reason why a company like Target would rather donate just $ 10 million rather than really commit to long-term change and commit to being responsible. I think that is the difference between these donation requests versus the 15% commitment, ”he continues, explaining that, although donations are necessary and beneficial, the commitment to change is what will help companies with a 15% commitment. and black property to succeed in the future.

Online, the announcement has resulted in a surge of support. “Sephora is such a large business and its willingness to get on board and do this in such a meaningful and holistic way really eliminates the excuses that many other retailers might have,” says James. “They are also committed to really sharing their strategies, methods and goals publicly, so a great roadmap will also be established for other companies to follow.”

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James still hopes Whole Foods, Shopbop, and Target, the other three retailers he mentioned in his original post, will commit. It is also focusing on luxury fashion retailers. “If we talk specifically about fashion and business like Shopbop, like Net-a-Porter, like MatchesFashion, like Moda Operandi, like Nordstrom, I think it’s really about taking a look at the landscape, taking a look at black designers there are in the space that they have products that fit their customer, and they meet with them and talk to them about what that looks like and then incorporate them in the way that you could be careful to incorporate another huge brand, “says James. “We see, all the time, how these companies celebrate the incorporation of other brands in their marketing, in their press and in their communication. We really want to see them do the same with Black-owned companies as well, and actively start looking for them. ”

Followers and supporters of the pledge can sign an online petition (James estimates it has nearly 100,000 signatures so far), donate to the cause, and interact and share the content of @ 15percentpledge. Meanwhile, James continues to support artisans around the world through his own business, Brother Vellies. “Doing this kind of thing gives me emotional stress,” he says. “Obviously, I am still a black person who is going through everything right now immediately after a pandemic. It also puts pressure on my business. I have been working almost 20 hours a day on the Pledge since I launched it 11 days ago, that item is a lot. “(The Pledge will soon announce to other officials.)” From Brother Vellies’ perspective, “he explains,” we launched the program. Something Special. That is my specific program to help support our artisan partners around the world. Getting on board for something like that, which is a monthly commitment of $ 35, is also really helpful for our community. ”

She continues: “I am not going to stop, and anyone who is interested in speaking at those companies, we welcome them. There are some ongoing conversations that I hope can become more exciting announcements in the future. It is really about standing up for equality. economic and racial justice. People say, “Well, it’s a lot of work. You know what? Blacks in America have been working very hard for a long time. I don’t think that’s an excuse. The time has come to act and I think we will always remember the companies that supported us and those who chose to remain silent at this time because their silence is deafening. ”

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