This extraordinary memoir of struggle and perseverance offers new ways of envisioning economic equality for everyone—from a leading activist and fashion pioneer. ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: Harper’s Bazaar
Aurora James’s life is a great American “success story”—precisely because it looks so different from others we’ve seen. Born in Canada to a counterculture mother, James was raised to question everything—specifically the very institutions that have shaped so many of us. When James was seven, her mother married a man who would move them to Jamaica, where James would learn harsh lessons about control, power, abuse, and belonging. Eventually she would find her way back home to Toronto, where her blue-eyed and fair-haired grandmother welcomed her with unconditional love—and inadvertently showed her that racism is the water in which we are all submerged.
Scouted as a model in eighth grade, James struggled with body image and became disenchanted by the industry’s objectification of women and commodification of race and culture. After she dropped out of high school, a flirtation with street racing led to her eventual arrest. She’d hit rock bottom, but as a visionary and optimist, she allowed that experience to become one of many that reshaped her way of thinking about the world. A slew of fashion-related jobs led James to discover the real power in creating for the runway, and she started her own business in a flea market: a sustainable fashion line showcasing traditional African designs that would become an award-winning international brand. But none of this came from a drive to “succeed.” It came from a desire to forge a new creative path—and to lift others up alongside her.
Already a rising star in fashion and the first Black female designer to win a Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, James posted a revolutionary idea in the wake of George Floyd’s murder that connected economics to racial justice in a way that has forever changed the American economic landscape. With that Instagram post, she founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge, which challenges retailers to commit 15 percent of their shelf space and spending power to Black businesses and is one of the fastest-growing social justice nonprofits. To date, more than two dozen of the world’s most recognized retailers have taken the pledge, redirecting $10 billion in annual revenue to Black and BIPOC brands.
Empowering and full of heart, Wildflower is the riveting story of how Aurora James made an indelible mark the American economic system, and a rallying cry for those eager to make change.
About the Author
Aurora James is the creative director and founder of the luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies, founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge, and vice chair of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. A Toronto native, James lives in Los Angeles and New York City.
“Inspiring. . . .Wildflower is true to its name, sharing a story of someone who bloomed despite obstacles and dedicated herself to beauty inside and out even when doing so wasn’t so simple.”—Town & Country
“Wildflower is a stunning story of grit, grace, and resilience. Aurora James takes us on a vivid journey through a life informed by creativity, vision, and an indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit while always staying grounded in her commitment to the highest principles and values. . . . A must-read!”—Huma Abedin, New York Times bestselling author of Both/And
“A very inspiring modern tale from a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul.”—Diane von Furstenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman I Wanted to Be
“This is a story of a woman who can do anything she sets her mind to, and in telling her story, shows us that we can too. With community and sisterhood at its center, Wildflower teaches us that against all odds, we can overcome.”—Rupi Kaur, New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey
“Wildflower is revealingly touching, thought-provoking, and almost revolutionary in its sharing of Aurora James’s eternal optimism. It’s a must-read for all young women on living their truth, finding safety and strength in sisterhood, and doing it all with grace and grit.”—Iman
“In Wildflower, Aurora James writes beautifully about where she has been and what it took to move the needle to make a difference. She may make it look easy, but her memoir reveals that that is far from the truth. Change takes caring, and James has given her life purpose—and we get to benefit from it.”—Bethann Hardison