Aurora James Designer and Activist says:   “Fear is normal. It’s terrifying. But isn’t it more terrifying to not follow your dreams at all?” These words hold the potential to influence and motivate women, of all colors, around the world. 

Aurora James Designer and Activist. She is the owner of the fashion label Brother Vellies as well as the head of her own line of garments. She has created history after reaching heights in her career as a fashion designer. Aurora James deserves a top-notch position in our Black History Month for her contribution as a black woman. Let us know more about her life. 

Aurora James Early Life 

Aurora James was born in Toronto on July 12, 1984, and spent most of her childhood growing up in Toronto, Canada. After completing high school, she studied fashion and journalism at the prestigious Ryerson University. 

As a child, sewing and creating clothes have always fascinated her and her sisters. It wasn’t until later on in life that she realized that it could be a career for her as well as a hobby. Apart from it, she grew up with the collection of clothes that her mother had collected from her and her father’s trips. 

James’ Becoming a Fashion Designer

At age of 15, she got an internship at  Next Models in Toronto. It was the beginning of her fashion journey. After finishing her education at Ryerson University, she began working for Elite, Gen Art, Woolly Pocket, and Thomas Wylde as a freelance creative consultant. 

While working with them, Aurora didn’t know what her trajectory would be in the future. She had no idea and no plans to start her own fashion brand. She just wanted to learn as much as she could from the brands. 

Then she started traveling in the African regions. During her stay, she realized that African artists were interested in what they were wearing in Western countries. Their designs were inspired by Western countries. Whereas West designers were appreciating African designs and taking inspiration from them. 

Aurora didn’t like the loophole. She understood the value of their culture that was being rotated in both countries. She decided to make something that highlights the features of their traditions. 

Aurora James Fashion Designer and Activist

Aurora James, Fashion Designer and Activist

Aurora’s Launching Brother Vellies

Brother Vellies is a footwear company based in Austin, Texas that sources handcrafted artisanal shoes from developing countries. Brother Vellies springs from a desire to provide women with shoes that are as beautiful as they are comfortable. With a focus on African handmade footwear, she designs Brother Vellies’ collection of ethically sourced shoes for modern life and durable use.

While launching the brand, Aurora didn’t know she was launching a brand. She didn’t have the vision for it. At that time, she was working with a workshop in South Africa and they were planning to close it due to financial crunches. Aurora wanted to save it. She had $3500 in her account. She asked the owner what she could do to save it.

They took the help and Aurora James worked with them on shoe designs. She designed a bunch of shoes and took them to Hester Street Fair on the  Lower East Side and sold them. Her effort evolved into a brand. Thus, Brother Vellies came into the picture. 

Aurora James’ Achievements 

Aurora James is a fashion designer who has made her mark as one of the most innovative minds in the industry. To date, Aurora has been nominated for three CFDA awards, and she won the prestigious award in 2015. Aurora James has been named one of Vogue’s Top 100 Designers to Watch in 2016. She has received the Planned Influencer Award, British Fashion Award, Footwear News Person of the Year Award. She was listed in Time 100 most influential people in the world. 

Since then, she has launched her own line of clothing and accessories at nationally recognized retailers such as Target and Nordstroms. She also operates a successful online store where shoppers can purchase items directly from the comfort of their own homes. Since the launch of her brand,  What makes this achievement even more impressive is that she built her career from scratch, starting her own business using her savings. Aurora is a charismatic woman no wonder she is on the top. She deserves the position.

Aurora James Fashion Designer and Activist

Aurora James Fashion Designer and Activist

Aurora James, The Activist

In 2020, when the Black Lives Matter Campaign flooded social media Aurora also participated in it. She came out to support the growth of black people. That’s why she launched an initiative called the 15 Percent Pledge. She created this foundation as a non-profit organization to support black-owned businesses. This organization encourages people to buy from black-owned businesses and also donate 15% profit for their betterment.

In an interview, she said “The fashion industry is really tough, especially for a black woman. We have to deal with the system and a lot is put on our shoulders when we walk into any environment. Often, we are viewed as slightly less, and incompetent. That’s why there are fewer black women in the fashion industry.” 

The struggle of being a black woman in the industry is real. However, Aurora James is a strong woman and she has grown over it. 

Authored by Aashna Chawla

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