The first thing that I noticed about Aurora James were her eyes. They have a wisdom about them that indicates that she is well-traveled beyond her years and capable of anything.
The 32 year-old shoe designer and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winner is on our list of people to watch. James started the accessory line, Brother Vellies as a way to preserve and modernize her African roots.
While backpacking in Africa during her 20s, she noticed that the desire for traditional fashion was dwindling and being replaced by that of Western influence. "I didn't want to see this tradition die." In true nomadic fashion, James owns a tree house in Kenya for her multiple yearly inspirational visits to different villages in Africa.
One thing that I didn't previously know about Aurora James is that the designer once went to school to pursue journalism at Ryerson University as opposed to pursuing a degree in fashion.
"I'm a journalism school dropout. I learned everything I know about making shoes from people in Africa."
So many people hold themselves back because they believe that a lack of education makes them unqualified to pursue the desires that fill their hearts. This is not the way of the carefree woman. The carefree woman believes in herself enough to know that she can obtain anything.
James told Refinery 29, "I'm so happy to be a female entrepreneur, and to be an African American CEO...It’s a learning curve for people. But, then we work together and they learn that women can be great CEOs. People have to get used to it; I’m not afraid of that."
Since its 2013 debut, Brother Vellies has gained global recognition including from powerhouses such as Nasty Gal, Madewell and Vogue. James' dedication to preserving traditional African style has translated into one of the most promising accessory lines of our generation.
"Three years ago I began down a journey that would change my life and the lives of others in a way I could have never imagined. We had a crazy dream and worked side by side in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Burkina Fasso and Ethiopia to make what some said was impossible, possible."
You go, carefree woman. The world can't stop you.