This extraordinary memoir of struggle and perseverance offers new ways of envisioning economic equality foreveryone—from a leading activist and fashion pioneer.
“With community and sisterhood at its center,Wildflowerteaches us that against all odds, we can overcome.”—Rupi Kaur,New YorkTimes bestselling author ofmilk and honey
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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,Wildfloweris 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.