West Elm Goes Local
As part of its Local initiative, Brooklyn-based West Elm is stocking its shelves with crafted goods from Texas-based artists and makers.
"The idea is to give small businesses the opportunity to have retail space in our stores," says West Elm public relations manager Dru Ortega. "And it gives our customers the opportunity to discover new products."
The items represent all corners of Texas.
Austin-based artisans featured in the initiative include illustrator Leah Duncan, who created abstract prints inspired by Texas flora, and Son of a Sailor, handmade geometric jewelry and accessories from the husband and wife team of William Knopp and Jessica Tata.
Texas-shaped wall hangings made of 100-percent reclaimed materials from Austin-based Hemlock & Heather have been such a hit that the products are featured as part of the “Best of Local” assortment on the West Elm website. There, you'll also find vibrant geometric prints from Austin favorite Alyson Fox.
Dallas is represented by Lilco, a design and letterpress studio with Texas-inspired note cards and tea towels, and Tiny Fawn, whimsical animal prints from artist Darrah Gooden.
From El Paso come Desert Beauty Soaps & Lotions, a maker of all-natural hot and cold processed soaps, and Creative Kids, a nonprofit, community-based art agency that works with disadvantaged youth to create art pieces that are turned into pillows and prints. Marfa Brands creates all-natural soap bars from the beloved West Texas town.
In addition to partnering with local artisans to produce handcrafted collections, West Elm also offers a large number of rugs produced in fair-trade-certified factories in India, Nepal, and Vietnam and sofas made in the U.S. Working with Fair Trade USA. The chain plans to certify 20 percent of its product assortment is made by fair trade standards by 2017, 40 percent by 2019.
"Everything we do is designed to make an impact," Ortega says. "It's really a global effort."