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West Elm to launch small business grant contest

Home furnishings retailer West Elm, the fast-growing division of Williams-Sonoma with 58 stores and counting, plans to launch a contest called “We Love Local Small Business Grant.”

Designed to support U.S.-based artists, makers and designers as they grow and scale their businesses, the small business grant contest will this week with open online submissions.

From August 12 through September 9, participants go to westelm.com/localgrant to tell their story. On August 16, West Elm will host in-store portfolio reviews in five stores across the country — not required for entry — and on September 30, the brand will introduce 20 finalists and commence online public voting. The winner will be announced on November 19 and will receive $25,000, business support and mentorship from the West Elm team, as well as a chance to be included in the Best of LOCAL Assortment available to customers nationwide this holiday season on westelm.com. Three runner-ups will also have a chance to be included in the assortment.

“We are at the height of a maker revolution in the United States,” said West Elm president Jim Brett. “Every time I visit our stores and meet artists and makers in our communities, I’m blown away by the small-scale manufacturing and design that’s happening in our own backyards. West Elm is committed to supporting emerging artists and makers around the world. But this small business grant is focused on helping micro-entrepreneurs in the U.S. We want to give back to the communities where our stores are located and where we’re doing business every day.”

“We know the $25,000 prize can have a huge impact on a small business,” said Mo Mullen, senior manager of business development and West Elm LOCAL. “We are committed to providing mentorship on everything from financial plans to manufacturing to marketing as our winner scales and develops their business.”

Winners will be judged based on design, originality, story, commitment to local production and depth of product assortment.

The We Love Local Small Business Grant is part of West Elm’s LOCAL initiative, which brings regionalized assortments to West Elm stores across the country. West Elm LOCAL currently includes more than 1,000 products from more than 160 artists and makers. LOCAL assortments are available in 16 West Elm stores and by the end of 2014 will be in eight additional stores. This holiday season, West Elm will launch the Best of LOCAL Assortment on westelm.com with 20 of the bestselling makers and more than 60 products available to online customers.

August 16th portfolio reviews will take place at the following stores. Interested participants should contact the store to schedule an appointment:

  • West Elm Dallas, Mockingbird Station: 5307 East Mockingbird Lane, Suite 100, 214-821-3999
  • West Elm Los Angeles: 8366 Beverly Blvd., 323-782-9672
  • West Elm Nashville, Hill Center: 4019 Hillsboro Pike, 615-385-1512
  • West Elm New York, Chelsea: 112 West 18th Street, 212-929-4464
  • West Elm Seattle, South Lake Union: 2201 Westlake, Space 100, 206-467-5798