BROOKLYN, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Responding to the President’s call to action to create a Nation of Makers, and as part of a White House event kicking off the National Week of Making, Brooklyn-based home furnishings retailer West Elm today announced an expansion of its LOCAL program to all U.S. stores. By the end of 2015, West Elm expects to support more than 500 makers and designers in the communities where its more than 60 U.S. stores are located. West Elm further promotes its LOCAL initiative with new tools and resources, including a Maker Toolkit.
“Showcasing local design talent connects, grows, and strengthens the communities where we have West Elm stores,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm. “The LOCAL initiative empowers our store managers to be shopkeepers, our customers to discover and support local small businesses, and the makers to reach a much broader audience through our doors and online.”
By building a network of makers and designers from their own communities, West Elm shopkeepers are able to create LOCAL assortments that are regionally specific, providing an established retail platform that helps to both raise awareness and drive sales.
The Maker Toolkit will be aimed at helping makers navigate the challenges they face as they grow their businesses, and will include best practices on everything from accounting to marketing.
West Elm first introduced LOCAL in 2013 and today features over 200 makers and designers of products ranging from housewares and textiles to notebooks and artwork. In 2014, West Elm awarded a $25,000 small business grant to LOCAL maker Little Seed Farm, an artisan producer of sustainable goat-milk-based products just outside Nashville, Tennessee. James and Eileen Ray from Little Seed Farm will travel with West Elm to the White House to celebrate West Elm’s renewed commitment to makers.
“West Elm’s support has been a complete game changer for our business,” said James Ray, co-founder of Little Seed Farm. “As a company they are committed to American-made, to preserving and promoting handcraft. With their support, we have been able to change how we run our business. We started by going from our gut, and with the help of West Elm, have grown to incorporate best business practices that have enabled us to expand our product SKU count and our retail outlets. We are incredibly grateful for the support and opportunities offered by West Elm.”
West Elm most recently opened stores in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, featuring more than 20 local artists from both locations. By the end of 2015, West Elm LOCAL expects to represent more than 500 makers from across the United States. For more about West Elm LOCAL, visit West Elm’s blog Front & Main.
About West Elm
West Elm helps customers express their personal style at home. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, the brand introduced its first catalog in 2002, and opened its first store in 2003 in DUMBO, the Brooklyn neighborhood it still proudly calls home. Everything West Elm does is designed to make an impact, from its commitment to Fair Trade Certified, local and handcrafted products, to its community-driven in-store events and collaborations. Mixing clean lines, natural materials, and handcrafted collections from the United States and around the world, West Elm creates unique, affordable designs for modern living. The brand operates 72 retail stores in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, ships to customers globally, and operates stores in the Middle East through an unaffiliated franchisee. West Elm is online at westelm.com, is part of an active community on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, and is a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands.