How Aurora James Founded the Fashion Industry's Coolest Sustainable Brand

Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on iTunes, and stay tuned. 

Aurora James on Second Life podcast


Courtesy of Karla Otto

This week, we're rebroadcasting and expanding upon one of our favorite Second Life episodes from the archives with Aurora James.

As far as fashion brand founders go, it doesn't get much cooler or more interesting than Aurora James, founder and creative director of trailblazing sustainable accessories brand Brother Vellies. The brand's shoes and bags are inspired by African culture and materials and are even handcrafted by local artisans. Since starting the company in 2013, James has won a CFDA award and counts Beyoncé and Solange Knowles as fans. But as is always the case, her current career wasn't exactly what she originally set out to do. After studying journalism in college, James worked as an agent for models, in production at Fashion TV, and for a nonprofit community garden project called Woolly Pocket.

Soon after a significant life change and move to New York, James took a trip to Africa and that's when she first had the idea to create Brother Vellies upon encountering the skilled craftsmen she came across while visiting different parts of the continent. Now, we know and love Brother Vellies for its beautifully unique shoes and bags that James designs season after season. (Tip: Her Instagram account is a must-follow.)

Head to iTunes to subscribe to Second Life and listen to this episode to hear all about James's fascinating, inspiring journey to launching Brother Vellies. Below, shop some of the brand's stunning shoes and bags.