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West Elm takes 'locally sourced' to new level


Home furnishings retailer West Elm is launching an unprecedented digital campaign connecting customers with local designers and makers.

The retailer already offers its website, which featuresartist profiles, studio visits and neighborhood tours. But now the portal boasts a focused advice series, “Maker Toolkit,” that includes expert guidance on a variety of topics for entrepreneurs and is an essential component of West Elm’s initiative to help makers and designers grow and scale their work. West Elm first announced plans for the “Maker Toolkit” at the White House National Week of Making in 2015 in response to President Obama’s call to create and support a “Nation of Makers.”

“Since our launch in 2013, West Elm LOCAL has worked to bring regionally sourced products to customers, creating a community-based experience each time they walk into a West Elm store,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm. “We’ve built relationships with more than 500 makers and sharing their stories of creativity, craft and community insight is our way of furthering that connection in the cities we call home.”

West Elm says its LOCAL program focuses on providing both an expanded retail platform and the individualized support each maker requires, from processing their initial order to hiring their first employee. The “Maker Toolkit” extends that support by providing helpful resources necessary for business growth, including entrepreneurial advice from experts on marketing, sourcing, finance and law.

“Through West Elm LOCAL we’ve worked with enough makers to understand many of the issues they face in growing and scaling their businesses,” said Mo Mullen, director of West Elm LOCAL. “Our goal is to bring forth the best expert advice to help them face these challenges. And our hope is that this guidance will spur further conversation and empower artists within and beyond our communities.”

Featured makers and designers who will share stories about their craft, inspirations and local communities on include:

  • Matt Alexander, Holler Design, Nashville – IG: @hollerdesign

  • Ellen Van Dusen, Dusen Dusen, Brooklyn – IG: @dusendusen

  • Alyson Fox, Austin, IG: @alyson_fox

  • Karrie Kaneda, Happy Habitat, Kansas City - IG: @happyhabitat

  • Molly McGrath, Molly M Designs, San Francisco – IG: @mollymdesigns

  • Jackie Robinson, 42 Pressed, Charleston – IG: @42pressed

  • Haley Ann Robinson, Portland – IG: @haleyannrobinson

  • Tippy Tippens, Goods that Matter, New Orleans – IG: @goodsthatmatter

  • Eric Trine, Los Angeles – IG: @etrine

Shipping to homes this month, the West Elm Summer catalog showcases 25 LOCAL makers and designers of the newest products, and provides insight into the people, inspirations, and environments behind their unique designs. A series of accompanying videos will launch on West Elm’s You Tube channel and continue throughout the year. West Elm will announce additional events and opportunities for the maker and design community to share and promote their products for consideration in the West Elm LOCAL collection.

West Elm operates 87 retail stores in the United States, Australia, Canada and the U.K., ships internationally to customers around the world and operates stores in Mexico, the Middle East and Philippines through unaffiliated franchisees.

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