By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — In an effort toward creating more retail shelf space for Black-owned brands in stores, Aurora James, a fashion designer and the founder of Brother Vellies, created the “15% pledge” — which calls on major retailers to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf to Black-owned businesses.
West Elm has become the third company to make the pledge.
On Wednesday, 15percentpledge announced that West Elm’s participation, “shows impressive leadership in the global design space.”
With this new commitment, West Elm is pledging through brand collaborations, local shelf space and hiring practices. The brand has also vowed to make a multi-year donation to the 15 Percent Pledge organization.
“We commend West Elm on their commitment to supporting Black-owned businesses and we look forward to working with them to further this mission,” the organization wrote in a post.
Shortly before West Elm’s pledge, Rent The Runway also committed to stock their shelves in support of Black designers. The fashion rental company will also be ensuring a minimum of 15% of their freelance creative talent will be Black. This includes stylists, photographers, models, influencers and more.
In June, Sephora became the first company to commit to the 15 Percent Pledge. “We recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better,” the company captioned a graphic announcing the news. “So, we’re starting now.”
On Instagram, the 15 Percent Pledge account also spread the news about Sephora’s participation. “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.”
The caption continued, “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.”
Sephora is fully committing to all three stages of the 15% pledge, which includes taking stock of the current percentage of shelf space and contracts dedicated to Black-owned businesses, taking ownership of all findings, understanding blind spots and disparities, and identifying concrete next steps, as well as taking action to publish and execute a plan for growing the share of black businesses Sephora helps empower to at least 15%.
“We were inspired to make the 15% Pledge because we believe it’s the right thing to do, for our clients, our industry, and for our community,” said Artemis Patrick, the EVP and chief merchandising officer of Sephora, in a statement. “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.”
To make sure the Black-owned brands that will now be available at Sephora are supported, the company is examining all areas of its business — starting with bringing all of its knowledge to the table freely, so aspiring founders have access.
Additionally, the company said it will provide connections to and support from funders and the venture capitalist community as well as help launch and develop black-owned businesses.
The popular beauty haven also said it will use its internal incubation program Accelerate — dedicated to cultivating female founders — to also focus on women of color.
The 15% Pledge has also called on several other retailers, such as Target, Whole Foods and Shopbop, to dedicate space for Black-owned brands. “Black businesses need your support today, tomorrow, always,” the organization said on its website.
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