Under the guidance of President, James Brett, West Elm has seen revitalization and growth on a large scale. But he has also challenged the company to think small. Global handicraft and the scaling of small-production goods have become a vibrant thread in the company’s tapestry, no doubt inspired by James’ personal love of travel and discovery.
“I learned about modern in Scandinavia, vintage in Paris, reclaimed and industrial in Belgium, and found a great fusion of nature, culture, and modernity in Thailand. But traveling through India is where I found my greatest inspiration: where I really came to truly understand and fall in love with the soulfulness of craft.”
Back at home, in 2013, James established West Elm’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, with a purchasing plan of $35 million in artisan-made goods over two years —all while providing transparency around the sourcing and manufacturing. He also navigated West Elm’s relationship with Fair Trade USA, pledging to certify 40 percent of West Elm products fair trade by 2019.
James has also been a driving force behind West Elm LOCAL, which allows store managers to connect customers with local designers and makers. Since its launch in 2013, West Elm LOCAL has supported more than 500 makers with 4,000 products, differentiating stores while strengthening the brands’ connection with the community.