Our Story - Born in Brooklyn. At home in the world.

Our Story

Born in Brooklyn. At home in the world.

We make it simple to express your personal style at home.

Our Story

Since it launched in Brooklyn, NY in 2002, west elm has been helping customers express their personal style at home. Our mission is three-fold: 1) we offer CHOICE in our products and services, helping customers create a home that tells their story, 2) we build COMMUNITY with customers, collaborators and associates, connecting like-minded strangers through inspiration, conversation, events and activities, and 3) we focus on CONSCIOUSNESS and honest business practices in everything we do, from handcrafted and local products to supply chain transparency + sustainability.

Our Stores + Community

Our home base is nestled down under the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and our 65+ retail stores can be found in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK. We're also part of an active online community on our blog, Front & Main, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. We're a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands.

Our Commitments - At west elm, we're committed to people - not just products.

Our Commitments

At west elm, we’re committed to people—not just products. Our customers care about what they bring into their homes, who made it and how, and we’re proud to build our business while trying to make a positive impact in the world. For us, it’s not about the short term. It’s the basis of our brand.

Quality of Life

We’re committed to improving quality of life, at home and abroad.

We owe it to our customers to do good wherever we can—from providing quality products to improving quality of life. For example, in Haiti where we make our papier-mâché products, we’ve developed workplace programs that teach basic and financial literacy, helping artisans not only in their jobs but in their day-to-day lives.

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“In Haiti, we developed a workplace program that teaches basic and financial literacy—helping workers in and outside of the work force.”

Jim Brett, President, west elm

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Community

We’re committed to strengthening the communities where we live.

We think of our stores as community hubs—places run by individual shopkeepers who love where they live. We host local events and workshops, and we try to be good neighbors by connecting our customers with resources beyond our local stores—from mom-and-pop shops to non-profit networks.

UK blogger Will Taylor Instagrams with fans at his book signing at our Chicago store.

UK blogger Will Taylor Instagrams with fans at his book signing at our Chicago store.

Handcrafted

We’re committed to supporting and sustaining handcrafts.

Through 2015, west elm has committed to paying $35 million directly to artisans who use traditional handcraft techniques. We’re making long-term commitments to each of these makers and helping them to scale their businesses—in many cases, working with them to secure additional funding and equipment.

We work with Indian artisans to design weaves and patterns that play to their unique skills.

We work with Indian artisans to design weaves and patterns that play to their unique skills.

Fair Trade

We’re committed to maintaining fair labor and supply chain transparency.

We maintain high standards of ethical sourcing, and we’re transparent about our business practices. For example, we’re the first home goods retailer to make rugs certified by Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade products earn a premium for each piece, empowering workers to invest in their communities.

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“west elm is empowering consumers to purchase according to their values and to help alleviate poverty through every Fair Trade Certified rug they buy.”

Paul Rice, CEO + Founder, Fair Trade USA

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Local

We’re committed to growing local makers and manufacturers.

We partner with local makers + designers to handpick regionally sourced pieces for each of our stores + our $25,000 annual maker grant helps grow small businesses from the ground up. We also help keep jobs close to home by making much of our upholstery at our very own North Carolina factory.

Brooklyn-based Shira Entis of Fleabags works on a design for our local assortment.

Brooklyn-based Shira Entis of Fleabags works on a design for our local assortment.

Collaboration

We’re committed to collaborating with emerging and established designers.

Since our business began, we’ve worked with 100+ independent designers. Our limited edition collaborations help emerging and established artists and makers reach new markets while preserving the integrity of their designs.

Artist Rachel Kozlowski works on a plate collection inspired by her animal illustrations.

Artist Rachel Kozlowski works on a plate collection inspired by her animal illustrations.

Green

We’re committed to getting a little greener every day.

Products with the west elm green label are either certified organic, recycled, rapidly renewable, non-toxic, reclaimed or responsibly produced from materials like wood and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®).

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“west elm demonstrates real leadership on behalf of the world’s forests as one of the first to source FSC®-certified paper for their catalogs.”

Corey Brinkema, President, FSC-US

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"Collaboration is in our DNA: the artists we work with, and the unique way we work together, make our brand truly distinctive." -- Vanessa Holden, Creative Director, west elm

“Collaboration is in our DNA: the artists we work with, and the unique way we work together, make our brand truly distinctive.

—Vanessa Holden,

  Creative Director, west elm

Our Impact

From 2013–2015, west elm has made a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment To Action, paying $35 million directly to artisans around the world whose creations are entirely handcrafted. Watch the video to see how that commitment has impacted workers and their families. ■

Our Partners - We believe that working together makes us better at what we do, and we partner with organizations that share our mission and passion whenever we can.

Our Partners

We believe that working together makes us better at what we do, and we partner with organizations that share our mission and passion whenever we can.

Clinton Global Initiative

Founded in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan organization that convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Each year, CGI hosts a meeting in September where members develop commitments to action. Through 2015, west elm has committed to paying $35 million directly to artisans who use handcraft techniques and a transparency pledge around the making and sourcing of those products.

President Bill Clinton visits our headquarters in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

President Bill Clinton visits our headquarters in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Fair Trade USA

In fall 2014, west elm became the first home goods retailer in the world to offer Fair Trade Certified rugs, handcrafted in India. Artisans earn a premium for each piece sold, empowering them to collectively invest in their choice of community initiatives. At the factory where our rugs are made, workers chose to use their premium to fund additional health care coverage. When you purchase a Fair Trade Certified rug, you’re supporting better living and working conditions for artisans.

At our rug factory in Panipat, India, artisans receive health insurance to support their families.

At our rug factory in Panipat, India, artisans receive health insurance to support their families.

FSC

Committed to maintaining the world’s woods, the Forest Stewardship Council partners with us to help achieve our social and environmental goals. FSC certification is rigorous, and requires that paper or wood products be sourced from responsibly managed forests. It’s also a way to support local communities and conserve biological diversity. In addition to sourcing FSC-certified reclaimed wood for select collections, we source FSC-certified paper for nearly all of our catalogs.

Our Emmerson Collections are crafted from FSC-certified solid reclaimed pine.

Our Emmerson Collections are crafted from FSC-certified solid reclaimed pine.

Craftmark

As part of the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association, Craftmark certifies genuine handcrafted products. The organization connects artisans with broader markets, sets standards for handcrafts and develops social responsibility guidelines for the sector. Many of our collections are Craftmark certified, ensuring that traditional techniques are preserved. A 2012 study showed that Craftmark certification increases artisan sales by more than 30 percent.

An artisan in India puts the final touches on a hand-embellished piece of art.

An artisan in India puts the final touches on a hand-embellished piece of art.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary of our partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Our loyal customers and associates have helped us bring hope and inspiration to the lives of so many. Together we’ve raised more than $26 million to support treatment of some of the world’s sickest children with pioneering research and exceptional care. Join us in supporting St. Jude. Give. To help more kids live.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc has raised more than $26 million to support St. Jude.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. has raised more than $26 million to support St. Jude.

It Gets Better Project

Founded in 2010, the It Gets Better Project is an international movement that brings resources and hope to LGBT youth who face bullying or harassment. In spring 2014, we began a pilot program in our New York stores by establishing a corps of our own Ambassadors. Rather than act as a therapist or mentor, we’re there to provide an information bridge, connecting young people to the resources available in their communities that can help make it better for them.

Our associates are committed to be a bridge between people and their communities.

Our associates are committed to being a bridge between people and their communities.

Etsy

Focused on their mission to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world, Etsy is a marketplace where people connect to buy and sell unique handmade or vintage goods, including art, photography, jewelry and textiles. As longtime fans of the handmade movement, we’re thrilled to host Etsy Pop-Up Shops in many of our stores. We also partner with them to discover emerging artists, who we feature in our catalog and online.

Our Etsy Pop-Up Shops help us discover emerging local artists.

Our Etsy Pop-Up Shops help us discover emerging local artists.

Our Community Partners

In our stores' communities, we work with organizations at the local level. From Southern farm collectives to coastal ocean-protection organizations, we look for partners who share our focus on the home and our commitments to choice, community + consciousness. We've helped raise money for the Humane Society in Oklahoma City, dog rescue in Washington, DC, music preservation in New Orleans and environmental education in Kansas City. If your nonprofit organization is interested in working with us, contact your local store manager.

The Roots Of Music in New Orleans helps preserve local musical and cultural heritage.

The Roots Of Music in New Orleans helps preserve local musical and cultural heritage.