As part of its growing 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.
"It gives our customers the opportunity to discover new products."
The items represent all corners of Texas. From Dallas are Lilco, a design and letterpress studio with Texas-inspired notecards and tea towels, and Tiny Fawn, whimsical animal prints from artist Darrah Gooden.
Austin-based artisans include illustrator Leah Duncan, who created abstract prints inspired by Texas flora, and Son of a Sailor, handmade geometric jewelry and accessories. The 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.
From El Paso comes 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, and 40 percent by 2019.
"Everything we do is designed to make an impact," Ortega says. "It's really a global effort."