15 Percent Pledge Calls On Stores to Dedicate Shelf Space to Black-Owned Businesses

"We must do better. So, we’re starting now."

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(Image credit: Justin Sullivan)

Update, 6/10: Sephora has pledged to dedicate 15 percent of its shelf space to Black-owned businesses. In a new Instagram (opens in new tab) post, it wrote: "We’re joining @15percentpledge and @aurorajames. We recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better. So, we’re starting now."

The internet is full of ways to support black-owned businesses, but when visiting your favorite major retailer, it can get a lot tougher to find their products. A new campaign is calling on stores to make space for more of these businesses in something called the 15 Percent Pledge (opens in new tab).

The campaign was created by Aurora James, a fashion designer and founder of the label Brother Vellies (opens in new tab), and she is calling on major retailers like Target, Whole Foods, and Sephora to take the pledge. The campaign gets its name, as The Takeout (opens in new tab) pointed out, because 15 percent of Americans are black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Retailers who take the pledge would be promising 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses (opens in new tab), which would make their stores' space at least proportional to 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, according to the site.

This campaign is obviously always important, but as the site notes, is particularly so now because black-owned businesses (opens in new tab) are suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a graphic on the site, created by @monachalabi, 21 percent of black-owned businesses say they don't think they'll survive the pandemic and 40 percent of black-owned businesses (opens in new tab) have been forced to close during the outbreak. In addition, black-owned businesses have seemingly been shut out (opens in new tab) of coronavirus relief efforts.

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In an Instagram post, Aurora explained her mission and why this is a chance for companies to make a real and positive change toward diversifying the brands they have in stores and combatting systemic racism that keeps them from landing these placements.

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"Don't get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman," she wrote: "I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this."

You can sign the petition here (opens in new tab).

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Kristin Salaky

Kristin is a freelance writer and social media editor. She loves pugs, sweaters and cinnamon coffee.