Second Life Podcast: How Aurora James Made the Fashion Industry Work for Her

Welcome to MyDomaine's Second Life podcast, a series spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief innovation officer at MyDomaine's parent company, Clique Brands, 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—we'll be releasing new episodes on Mondays.

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Second Life

There was a time when Aurora James never thought she'd have a seat at the proverbial table. Now, after dipping her toes in multiple industries, she's at the helm of the sustainable fashion company Brother Vellies and is proof that if you have a goal, you can make it happen, even if that means finding a new way of getting there. "I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion. I just knew that fashion wasn't working for me in a way that I needed it to," she tells Hillary Kerr on Episode 23 of Second Life.

James's career began in fashion, though it wasn't the linear path most take. She tried her hand in a few different industries but was eventually fueled by a desire to travel. After visiting Africa, James discovered that the preservation of culture from a fashion perspective was in danger. Locals were wearing western designs while few were creating their own goods, so James set out in search of local artisans, without a clear plan, but knowing she wanted to help.

"I had this concern, and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do. I never said I'm going to start a company," she explains. However, after buying shoes from a local artisan and selling them at the flea market in New York City, the designs began garnering attention and Brother Vellies—James's sustainable fashion brand that creates jobs throughout Africa by selling handcrafted traditional footwear and handbags—was born.

"Everything that I know about shoes, I learned from people in Africa," she says. Now that she's found success, the one thing on her mind is helping other "outsiders" achieve their goals. "Being an outsider, being someone who is not even from this country, being a woman of color, I have a responsibility to everyone else behind me."

Head to iTunes to subscribe to Second Life and hear the full episode.