BROOKLYN, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--President Clinton visited home furnishings retailer West Elm in Brooklyn last week. He viewed West Elm’s work to support artisans around the world and offer handcrafted products under the brand’s 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. During the visit, West Elm President Jim Brett introduced President Clinton to many of the brand’s key artisan partners and shared the stories of the impact that West Elm’s collaborations are having in Haiti, India, the Philippines, Guatemala, Peru and the United States. West Elm also announced that it will be the first home retailer in the world to offer Fair Trade CertifiedTM rugs, handcrafted in India and available to customers this holiday season. West Elm is a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE:WSM) family of brands.
“I am grateful for the impact that West Elm’s CGI commitment is having all around the world,” said President Clinton. “Not only is West Elm supporting the creation of good, sustainable jobs, but they’re also ensuring that the tradition of important crafts such as textiles, pottery and papier-mâché find new markets.”
“Consciousness is not a short term initiative for West Elm, it is a core part of our business strategy,” said Brett. “We are at a tipping point in consumer demand for transparency, and West Elm is leading the way in the home industry.” Brett joined West Elm in 2010 and made commitments to supply chain transparency and artisan partnerships. Under his leadership, the brand has reported 17 consecutive quarters of double digit comparable brand revenue growth, proving that, “Doing good is not just our responsibility, it’s good business.”
"West Elm really respects our process, our needs, and our challenges in growing an artisan business,” said Theresa Kabigting, Marketing Director of Asia Ceramics, one of West Elm’s artisan partners. “They are a true partner and are helping us bring back traditional craft techniques and elevate craft employment in our country."
In partnership with its largest rug supplier, Raj Overseas, West Elm has established the first Fair Trade Certified factory for handcrafted rugs in India. Fair Trade certification ensures that the rugs are made in safe working conditions and that workers are justly compensated, delivering a premium back to the worker to invest in causes of their choice. Employees at the West Elm Fair Trade factory have chosen to fund additional health care coverage. Fair Trade Certified rugs will be available this holiday season at West Elm retail locations and on westelm.com.
Additional projects and progress under West Elm’s consciousness initiatives and CGI Commitment to Action include:
- In 2013, West Elm committed to purchasing $35M in handcrafted products over the next two years. The brand has nearly met this goal in one year.
- West Elm is building a network of artisan makers and currently working with more than 35 artisan groups in 15 countries. Over half of the artisans West Elm works with are women. The brand makes long-term commitments of 3-5 years to each maker.
- To further support artisans, West Elm recently launched an adult literacy initiative in Haiti in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and ProDev, teaching artisans reading, writing, financial literacy, and vocational training. The brand hopes to replicate the program with additional vendors and in other countries, including the Philippines.
- In August, West Elm will launch the We Love Local Small Business Grant as the next phase of its West Elm Local program. The grant, which will be awarded by West Elm with feedback from customers through online public voting, will go to one U.S. based small business and includes a $25K cash prize and ongoing business support from West Elm.
About West Elm
Mixing clean lines, natural materials and handcrafted collections from the US and around the world, West Elm creates unique, affordable designs for modern living. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, the brand introduced its first catalog in 2002 and opened the doors of its first retail location in 2003. West Elm’s complete collection of furniture and accessories for living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and dining rooms can be found in 58 retail stores in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK and around-the-clock at www.westelm.com. The brand also offers international shipping to customers around the world and has an unaffiliated franchisee that operates stores in the Middle East. West Elm is part of an active community on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram and a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands.
About Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. It audits and certifies transactions between companies and their international suppliers to ensure adherence to the rigorous Fair Trade standards. Fair Trade USA also educates consumers and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit FairTradeCertified.org for more information.