James (Jim) Brett is the president of West Elm, foremost growth sector of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio. Upon his appointment in 2010, Brett revitalized the brand by implementing his “Re-Mix, Re-Merch, Re-Price” strategy, leading to 23 consecutive quarters of double-digit comparable brand revenue growth. By working with a vision to “make it simple for people to express their personal style at home”, he developed an influential new West Elm look and feel as well as an innovative, relationship-driven marketing program, engaging customers across platforms.
An advocate for global handicraft and scaling of small production goods, Brett expanded West Elm’s product range by collaborating with artisan workers and communities, implementing dual-purpose “Impact Sourcing” to deliver financial return and measurable social impact through employment as well as non-financial support. Looking to enact pilot programs with a multiplier effect in the community, Brett made a pioneering partnership with Fair Trade USA and launched educational efforts for craft partners, from basic literacy in Haiti to financial literacy in the Philippines.
Brett came to West Elm with two decades of retail experience, most recently in leadership roles at Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, Inc. During his 2003 to 2007 term as merchandise manager for the multi-channel subsidiary Anthropologie, Brett developed his passion for global craft, traveling extensively to source products and find inspiration, creating the sophisticated brand identity and merchandise mix that is Anthropologie Home today. In late 2007, Brett was selected as Chief Merchandising Officer for the diverse Urban Outfitters brand, generating record sales and productivity despite a challenging retail environment. In addition to his tenure at Urban Outfitters, Inc. Brett has served in various merchandising roles with leading retailers including the J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. and May Company Department Stores.
Brett, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, is active in The DUMBO Improvement District—the revitalization advocacy group for one of New York’s earliest industrial neighborhoods—and was the largest individual fundraiser for the 2015 AIDS Walk NYC. Recently appointed to the advisory board of Nest, a non-profit organization helping artisans sustainably develop their businesses, Brett makes his home in Brooklyn, NY.
- In 2013, Brett established West Elm’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action: a two-year, $35 million handcraft purchasing plan supplemented by a transparency pledge around the making and sourcing of those products.
- That same year, Brett launched West Elm LOCAL, a program that empowers individual West Elm store managers—known as shopkeepers—to find area makers and designers, building a creative network that celebrates craftspeople and differentiates the brand with regional assortments. Through LOCAL, West Elm makes long-term commitments to artists and collaborating at all stages of growth, now supporting more than 500 makers and offering more than 4,000 products in the US and Canada as well as a “Best of LOCAL” assortment on westelm.com.
- In 2015, Brett showed continued support of global artisan and factory workers, by updating the CGI Commitment to include a partnership with Fair Trade USA, pledging to certify 20% of West Elm’s assortment Fair Trade by 2017 and 40% by 2019. West Elm’s investment includes supporting certification of more than 10 new factories, contributing over $1,000,000 in premiums that will improve the lives of over 10,000 workers during the course of the commitment.