Sephora is the First Major Retailer to Take Canadian Designer Aurora James’ 15 Per Cent Pledge

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The beauty giant has announced it will dedicate 15 per cent of its shelf space to Black-owned beauty brands.

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.

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.

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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