Sephora is the First Major Retailer to Take Canadian Designer Aurora James’ 15 Per Cent Pledge
Last week, Canadian designer Aurora James – founder of footwear brand Brother Vellies – launched the 15 Per Cent Pledge, a movement urging major retailers to dedicate 15 per cent of their buying budget to Black-owned businesses.
“So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” James wrote in an Instagram post announcing the initiative.
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@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses. . So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.
Today, beauty giant Sephora announced it is accepting the pledge and that it will dedicate 15 per cent of its shelf space to Black-owned beauty brands moving forward. The company is the first of the four major brands named by James to do so.
According to WWD, the company will implement all three stages of the pledge: “including taking stock of the current percentage of shelf space and contracts dedicated to Black-owned businesses, taking ownership of findings, blind spots and disparities, and identifying concrete next steps, and taking action to publish and execute a plan to grow the share of Black-owned businesses to at least 15 per cent.” Sephora will also help to connect Black-owned businesses with funding and venture capital partners, as well as focus its internal incubator for female founders solely on women of colour in 2021.
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A little over a week ago, we called on four of the biggest retailers in America to commit to the #15PercentPledge. We are thrilled to announce that, of the four businesses we named, @Sephora is the first to take the Pledge. With unparalleled influence and power, not only in the beauty industry but in retail at large, Sephora is making a historic contribution to the fight against systemic racism and discrimination by taking this Pledge. We commend their early leadership and look forward to working with them on their accountability and commitment as we join together in the mission to put billions back into the Black community. . . . #blacklivesmatter #buyblack #supportblackbusiness graphic: @benrabb
In a statement, Artemis Patrick, Sephora’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said, “Ultimately, this commitment is about more than the prestige products on our shelves, it starts with a long-term plan diversifying our supply chain and building a system that creates a better platform for Black-owned brands to grow, while ensuring Black voices help shape our industry. We recognize we can do better and this pledge builds on our ongoing work to use our resources to drive meaningful and long-term change for Sephora and our industry.”
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