Sephora commits 15 percent of its shelf space to black-owned brands
The death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis appears to have changed America in a fundamental way. Gone, for the most part, are denials that systemic racism and inequality in the U.S. exist. Businesses anxious to publicly get on the right side of history are stepping up with pledges of help in various forms. That includes Sephora, which has committed to growing its current roster of nine black-owned brands to include others that will eventually occupy at least 15 percent of the space on its store 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,” Artemis Patrick, chief merchandising officer of Sephora, told The New York Times. “We recognize we can do better.”
The idea for the 15 percent pledge began with an Instagram post by Aurora James, founder and creative director of Brother Vellies, a brand committed to “keeping traditional African design practices, and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs.”
Ms. James argues that many retailers have built their success with stores in minority neighborhoods and that black-owned businesses can help them achieve even more.
Purchase orders from large retailers, such as Whole Foods, she writes, would give black-owned businesses access to capital. “Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them (black-owned businesses) out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our black communities.”
Ms. James writes that, as a businessperson who grew her company from its start selling items at flea markets, she understands the complexity of making good on the 15 percent pledge and does not expect that retailers like Sephora and others will suddenly have shelves stocked with products from black-owned suppliers next week.
She has specifically called out Target in her efforts to gain support among major retailers. The retail chain, that was forced to close stores after looting broke out in some locations around the peaceful protests in connection with Mr. Floyd’s death, committed $10 million to advance social justice through partnerships with groups including the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum.
RetailWire has reached out to Target for comment and will update this article if it receives a reply.
- 15 Percent Pledge
- OK, here is one thing you can do for us… – Aurora James/Instagram
- Sephora Takes 15 Percent Pledge FAQ – Sephora
- Our Story – Brother Vellies
- Sephora Is The First Brand To Join Aurora James’s 15 Percent Pledge – Elle
- Sephora Signs ‘15 Percent Pledge’ to Carry More Black-Owned Brands – The New York Times
- Target Commits $10 Million and Ongoing Resources for Rebuilding Efforts and Advancing Social Justice – Target
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you go about reaching the 15 percent goal of black-owned brands if you were Sephora or another retailer? Do you expect other major retailers to join Sephora in taking the 15 percent pledge?