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West Elm - The history
Williams-Sonoma Inc., the father company of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, started West Elm in 2002. West Elm soon became a leader in home furnishings that are affordable, approachable and sustainably produced. Each season, West Elm's talented in-house team of designers delivers an exclusive collection, collaborating with artists and independent designers locally and globally. The brand also offers handmade and one-of-a-kind discoveries from around the world, working with companies that support the development of global craft communities.
In 2012, Brett’s team started West Elm Market, a kitchen and home-goods spin-off that highlights at least 75% American-made products and lures in passersby with a La Colombe coffee bar. There are now two stand-alone Market locations, including a 3,000-square-foot Brooklyn flagship, and remarkable 24 other mini Markets that have been retrofitted inside of West Elm’s 56 spots.
Brett also struggled to make West Elm seem less like just another store in a suburban strip mall. Alternatively, he wanted retail outlets to feel like community hubs–individual shops with distinct personalities that are run by real human beings. To accomplish that, last summer Brett directed salespeople to think of themselves as old-fashioned merchants.