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Aurora James, Founder of Brother Vellies and The Fifteen Percent Pledge


Episode Highlights

  • Identify and Stay True to Your Why: Aurora emphasizes that she started her business to preserve traditional practices and empower artisans, not to make a profit.
  • Being Afraid to Fail is Failing: Aurora emphasizes that fear of failure is the same as failing, because you haven’t even tried. You will never succeed without some risk.
  • Surround Yourself with Diverse Perspectives: Aurora emphasizes the importance of surrounding herself with diverse voices, to gain new insights and not create an echo chamber.
  • You Can’t Force Creativity: As a designer, Aurora used to take inspiration from travel. Now that she travels more for work, she’s found that it’s harder to take inspiration from her trips. As a result, she’s pivoted to finding inspiration from other places in her life, ensuring not to force her creativity.

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Aurora James launched fashion and accessories line Brother Vellies in 2013, with a mission to preserve the heritage of African design and create lasting artisanal jobs. Today, her brand is handcrafted by artisans spanning the globe, bringing culture, sustainability and fashion together. She is also the founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a non-profit that encourages retailers to pledge at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Major retailers like Sephora, Nordstrom and Macy’s have all made the pledge. Nancy and Aurora discuss her unique journey of self discovery, her memoir, Wildflower, and the rituals that keep her grounded.

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