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West Elm acquires affordable design brand Good Thing as partner

The direct-to-consumer home goods company founded by Jamie Wolfond will no longer manufacture its own products

designer homewares from Good Thing
Home accessories from Good Thing.
Good Thing

Modern furniture company West Elm is bringing Brooklyn-based design brand Good Thing under its wing, Fast Company first reported.

Founded by designer Jamie Wolfond, Good Thing is known for selling home accessories, furniture, and decor by emerging American designers at affordable prices.

In the new partnership, West Elm will become the exclusive retailer of Good Thing products online and in stores, taking over manufacturing, marketing, sales, and distribution. Good Thing will remain its own company, with Wolfond staying on as creative director of a scaled-back team focusing on the design side of things.

It’s worth noting that when Curbed interviewed Wolfond in August 2018—for a larger piece on how Trump’s tariffs would affect production in the furniture industry—he was already starting to crunch the numbers around Good Thing’s manufacturing costs:

Cofounder Jamie Wolfond, who trained as an industrial designer, tells Curbed that manufacturing prices have always fluctuated because of supply and demand. Tariffs are an added pressure.

“Leading up to Chinese New Year, for example, the cost of cardboard skyrockets and a package that typically costs us $1 to make could end up costing $3 or $4,” he says. “The same is true of raw metal, particularly aluminum. These prices change weekly and we’re constantly struggling with our vendors to maintain our margins.”

The import tariff hasn’t affected Good Thing yet, but Wolfond is already crunching numbers. A $1 increase in his production costs usually leads to a $4 to $6 increase in retail price, depending on the product. So a 10 percent tariff on a product that costs $50 to make would lead to a retail price that’s $20 or $30 more.

The ongoing U.S.-China trade war, with tariffs on goods wielded as the primary weapon, could continue to impact small design studios stateside who look to China for sourcing and manufacturing needs.

And speaking with Fast Company, Wolfond also notes that North American consumers aren’t quite embracing design as much as Scandinavians. The designer, in fact, will be ramping up his own studio, designing products catering to the Scandinavian market.

Meanwhile, Michigan-based furniture manufacturer Herman Miller recently acquired stake in Danish design brand Hay to help bring the brand to North American audiences through online and physical Hay stores and a presence in Design Within Reach stores.

Via: Fast Company