Williams-Sonoma was founded by Charles E. Williams in 1956 when he began selling restaurant-quality kitchenware for homes in his store in Sonoma, California. In 1971 he began to publish a mail-order catalog.
By 1972 he was sending out thousands of catalogs and had taken out a business loan to open more stores.
The company went public in 1983 and bought Pottery Barn from Gap, Inc. In 1999 Williams-Sonoma introduced Pottery Barn Kids, then PBTeen in 2003.
Williams-Sonoma products have been featured on several television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Sex and the City, American Dad!, Friends, Frasier, The King of Queens, and Weeds.
Today Williams-Sonoma sells high-end kitchenwares, furniture, linens, housewares, home furnishings, specialty foods, soaps, and lotions. The company operates over 500 retail stores, has 26,000 employees, and had $4.042 billion in revenue in 2012.