Aurora James is Toronto-born designer and CEO of her own company, Brother Vellies, and is currently one of my muses. James initially attended Ryerson University to get a degree in journalism to soon drop out and move to Los Angeles. While out in California, she worked as a freelance creative consultant for a variety of people like Gen Art and Wooly Pocket. In 2011, she made her first trip to Africa after spending time experimenting with design. Once she was out there she found herself inspired by the traditional handwork and beading of the locals. Although, since the market was not big enough for this type of work in Africa, she decided to start her own business, and create jobs for these women, to preserve their shoe-making craft by incorporating it into her own designs.
James founded Brother of Vellies, back in 2013, which mainly focuses on creating sustainability in shoes, which include modern day sandals, flats, and the traditional African desert boot called the velskoen (a.k.a “vellies”). Aurora James travels back to Africa every 2-3 months to meet with the brand’s artisans to develop new collections. In 2015, Aurora James was nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and was one out of the three finalists amongst Gypsy Sport and Jonathan Simkhai to win the prize. She received 300,000 to invest in her label and a yearlong mentorship with an industry expert to help take her business to the next level. Aurora James not only creates very fashionable products, but she does it with the purpose of helping others around her, which is truly inspiring. Check out some pictures of her and some pieces she’s designed below, and make sure to subscribe to receive my weekly newsletters!