Here’s How the 15% Pledge Is Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

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A new initiative is aiming to overhaul how retailers fill their shelf space and consider more closely how much of it belongs to Black-owned brands.

In response to the global protests against racial inequality and police brutality, many have been looking for ways to support the cause financially, so they’ve made strides to purchase items from Black-owned brands. Founder of the Brooklyn-based label Brother Vellies, Aurora James, is trying to take that support to the next level with her latest cause: The 15 Percent Pledge.

“Black people in the U.S. make up nearly 15% of the population. We’re asking brands to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses,” reads the initiative’s Instagram page.


In a post on her own page, James called out big brands such as Whole Foods, Target, Home Depot, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, and more to ask them to “commit to buying 15% of your products from Black-owned businesses.” 

“So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power,” she wrote. "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’s plan for retailers looking to take her pledge is three-pronged. The first step is to “take stock of the percentage of business, shelf space, and contacts given to Black-owned businesses and suppliers at present.” The second step implores retailers to “take ownership of your findings, thoroughly interrogating how existing blind spots and biases within your company and society at large have led to the disparities — and what concrete steps you can take to address them.”

The second step also asks that retailers publish their findings both “internally and externally” in order to “inform a brand-new vision.”

The third step is for retailers to take action to “define and publish a plan for growing the share of Black businesses you empower to at least 15 percent, alongside a concrete strategy by which you plan to stay accountable to and transparent around your commitment. Execute your plan.”

Thus far, Sephora has signed on to take the pledge, as have brands like Rent the Runway and WeWoreWhat. If you’re not a retailer but you’d like to get involved, James’ pledge also offers a petition to hold yourself accountable and make sure that you’re making the effort in your daily purchases to support Black-owned brands.

Tags: Social Justice, Career, Career

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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