Hudson's Bay Celebrates The Launch Of SHOP_BLK; Fifteen Percent Pledge’s Aurora James Delivers Keynote For Panel Discussion

The Retailer Announces New Digital Shop, Making It Easier For Customers to Discover and Get Inspired By Black-Owned and Black-Led Brands on

(TORONTO, ON) February 8, 2023 — Today, Hudson’s Bay is proud to unveil SHOP_BLK, a new destination on that empowers customers to discover and support Black-owned and led brands year-round. Highlighting the talent and innovations of Black creators across the lifestyle landscape, SHOP_BLK delivers an incredible array of Black-owned and Black-led products ranging from apparel and accessories to beauty and home in one curated location.

“As the first department store in Canada to sign the Fifteen Percent Pledge, we have prioritized a commitment to ensure the products and experiences we offer at Hudson’s Bay reflect the diversity of our customers, associates and communities in Canada,” says Sophia Hwang-Judiesch, President at Hudson’s Bay. “SHOP_BLK delivers the ease of shopping incredible Black-owned and Black-led brands through a dedicated curation, inspiring customers to support the brands they love and encourage discovery for those they haven’t been introduced to yet.”

To celebrate the launch of SHOP_BLK, Hudson’s Bay and Fifteen Percent Pledge hosted an intimate discussion at the retailers' Queen Street flagship store, moderated by Vanessa Craft, Global Head of Lifestyle & Education, TikTok. Keynote speaker Aurora James, Creative Director and Founder of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies and founder of the non-profit advocacy organization, Fifteen Percent Pledge joined panellists;George Sully, Designer, Founder of Black Designers of Canada; Emefa Kuadey, Fashion Engineer, Founder of ISRAELLA KOBLA; and Tyler Ferguson, Owner & Lead Designer, Monoxide; all of whom touched on the topics of the economic power of Black businesses, opportunities for emerging designers as well as Black equity in Canada.

“Our partnership with Hudson’s Bay has been instrumental in supporting Black entrepreneurs throughout Canada,” said Aurora James, Founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge and Creative Director of Brother Vellies. “I am so excited that shoppers will have the opportunity to browse all of the incredible brands represented within SHOP_BLK, and play their part in supporting and uplifting Black business owners.”

As part of the event, Hudson’s Bay unveiled an in-store pop-up shop where customers could discover a curation of SHOP_BLK’s assortment while enjoying refreshments, live music, beauty services, art gallery and a photo studio, all from local Black businesses.

Among the brands included in SHOP_BLK’s assortment are Balmain, Brillcool, City Chic, Ellie Bianca, Good Man Brand, Heron Preston, ISRAELLA KOBLA, Kaela Kay, Loola Cosmetics, Maison Jiji, Monoxide, Oma The Label, Saint Lyon, SIMKHA Biocosmetiques, Skindew, Sully & Son Co., Yo Mama’s Foods, LaQuan Smith, and more.

Discover SHOP_BLK now on



Global Head of Lifestyle & Education, TikTok

A trailblazing thought leader, Vanessa has built a career around inclusive content direction, trend architecture and amplifying next generation talent. As the Global Head of Lifestyle & Education at TikTok, she leads a team that sets the global strategy and direction for highly influential content verticals such as fashion, beauty, food, books and NGOs. Previously, Vanessa was the Editor-in-Chief at ELLE Canada, holding the historic position as the first Black woman across 44 global editions of the magazine to hold this title. In 2021, Vanessa was named to Variety’s 2021 Global Impact list.


Owner & Lead Designer, Monoxide

Tyler Ferguson was born in Canada, and raised in The Bahamas and Toronto. She founded Monoxide in 2012 and has been sharing it with the world ever since. Her collections have been showcased at London Fashion Week and featured in Forbes and Elle Canada.


Creative Director and Founder of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies and founder of the non-profit advocacy organization, Fifteen Percent Pledge

Aurora James has long worked to make the global economy a more equitable place for historically excluded groups.

Founded in 2013, Brother Vellies began with the mission of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive. The brand supports artisan communities around the world, creating timeless pieces that celebrate different cultural histories and honor the individuals that make them through fair labor practices and job creation.

In June 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Aurora founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a non-profit advocacy organization that urges companies and individuals to make a long-term commitment to increased diversity and representation across their business practices and buying habits. Since its founding, the Pledge has signed 29 pledge takers including Nordstrom, Vogue, InStyle, and Sephora U.S., and helped over 625 companies launch their products with pledge takers. In 2021, Aurora became the first Black female designer to receive The Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert, and was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.


Civil Engineer turned Fashion Engineer, Founder of ISRAELLA KOBLA

Emefa Kuadey is a Fashion Engineer and Founder of ISRAELLA KOBLA, the women's clothing and accessories brand that is redefining minimalism, with pieces highlighting an appreciation for architecture and timeless design. In 2022, Emefa was the recipient of the first ever 'The Bay Fashion Fund.'


Designer, Founder of Black Designers of Canada

George Sully is an award-winning multidisciplinary designer, entrepreneur, and creator of the Black Designers of Canada (BDC). He is also a Bata Shoe museum inductee, co-founder of House of Hayla and creator of the break-out brand Sully & Son Company.


Through a digital-first, purpose-driven lens, The Bay helps Canadians live their best style of life. The Bay operates featuring Marketplace, one of the largest premium life & style platforms in Canada, with a seamless connection to a network of 84 Hudson's Bay stores. The Bay has established a reputation for quality and style through an unrivaled assortment of products and categories including fashion, home, beauty, food concepts and more. Follow us on our social media channels: InstagramFacebookTwitterTikTok.

The Bay and Hudson’s Bay operate under the HBC brand portfolio. Founded in 1670, HBC is North America’s oldest company. The signature stripes are a registered trademark of HBC.


Lauren Polyak
Director, Public Relations

Tiffany Bourré
DVP, Communications, PR & Heritage