Social justice is on the tongues of many since the rise of racial strife in America. While police reform is a major focus and fills daily headlines, economic power continues to be a necessary component of the cause of racial equality. Last summer, a campaign was born, challenging major retail companies to commit to buying 15 percent of their inventory from Black-owned businesses. Fifteen percent is the brainchild of fashion designer and founder of label Brother Vellies, Aurora James.

“If these businesses can commit to taking that pledge, it would lead to more venture capitalists and investors looking to support Black-owned businesses and taking them seriously because they know there’s a built-in demand,” James explains.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Black people make up nearly 15% of the population. So, retailers who take the pledge would promise 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, which would reflect the U.S. population. This would not only help to create more equity in the products consumers purchase, but it would also help put $14.5 billion back into Black communities.

James successfully challenged major retailers to take the pledge and has now extended the pledge to consumers. Spending 15 percent from Black-owned businesses would mean increased availability of the funding many of them desperately need. If consumers take the pledge to spend their money on Black-owned businesses 15 percent of the time, there will also be an increased demand for retailers to stock them. “It really works full circle,” she says.

How to Take the 15 Percent Pledge (from the 15 percent website):


Step 1: Take inventory of your own spending power
The first step in making change in the world starts with taking stock of your own life. How many Black-owned companies are currently represented in your monthly spending? Own the finding and commit to a plan that holds you accountable to doing better.

Step 2: Make buying Black at least 15% of your monthly spending
Make a commitment (and a plan!) to redirect at least 15% of your monthly budget across categories to Black-owned businesses.

Step 3 Donate, if you can, 15% a month. It goes a long way
A monthly donation commitment of $15 helps the 15 Percent Pledge continue important advocacy work for Black-owned businesses, as well as holding large retailers accountable to their commitment. If you can, your support will help power the work done every day to dramatically change the trajectories for Black businesses across the country and to funnel billions back into the Black community.

Companies Who Have Taken the Pledge?


Crate & Barrel. Vogue, Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, bluemercury, CB2, ATHLETA, Crate&kids, Hudson Bay, The Gap, Macys KITH, Madewell, Old Navy, Moda Operandi, NEXT, Indigo, Yelp, west elm, Medmen, Instyle, Sephora and Ulta