The Internet is a pretty magical thing. Obvious reasons aside, we’re thoroughly impressed with the fact that a few clicks of a mouse can unlock instant access to artisan goods from around over the world. Think about it – 10 years ago, if you wanted to buy beautiful handmade products from another country, you’d have to find a speciality store OR have a well-travelled aunt who would bring you souvenirs. However, these days there are passionate people who scour the globe and bring the beautiful products directly to you. That’s why we had an instant obsession with The Citizenry. We get to fill our homes with beautiful products while supporting communities that otherwise wouldn’t have had a market. The Citizenry was founded because “our homes should be reflections of the journeys we take.” The founders, Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley, found themselves “frustrated by the mass-produced rubbish offered at traditional retailers,” and set out to transform modern home goods. The name is a reflection of the designers, artisans, and dreamers from all over the world – and the consumers who are ready to support them.
Each season, The Citizenry features a new collection sourced from another distinct corner of the globe. First up, Carly & Rachel visited Peru (known for intricate weavings and beautiful textiles) and Argentina (which has some of the softest leather in the world). Next, they headed to Uganda for the high quality Mugavu wood, Ankole cow horn, and the unique basket weaving. Each journey brings a better understanding of the world, and also an amazing online shopping experience for those who aren’t able to travel.
We wanted to learn more about Carly, Rachel, and their journey towards The Citizenry. Through the quick conversation, we became major fans:
OUR LIGHTBULB MOMENT:
CARLY & RACHEL: Shopping for our own homes, we found ourselves uninspired by offerings from most mass retailers. When we thought about it, we realized the things we treasured most in our homes were full of stories: we had either met the makers or picked the item up during our travels. The most interesting items checked both those boxes and we thought: maybe we can deliver an experience online that’s the next best thing to traveling abroad and meeting these amazing artisans personally. That idea was the creative spark that started it all.
I CAN’T START MY DAY UNTIL:
CARLY: I’ve made a French press and done a bit of snuggling with my French bulldog/lousy office assistant, Pete Turner.
RACHEL: It’s hilarious, but I love starting my day with a few minutes saying hello to Mr. Pete Turner as well. He’s our resident office entertainment!
RACHEL: Being able to give something extraordinarily beautiful and meaningful to the world.
CARLY: Spending my days doing something I love, surrounded by people and experiences that continue to inspire me.
YOU’LL NEVER SEE ME WITHOUT:
CARLY: A pretty notebook. I’m a notebook hoarder and carry one with me at all times. You never know what ideas will come when.
RACHEL: Red lipstick within an arm’s reach. Somehow it immediately dresses up any outfit, and we have a lot of impromptu visitors in our studio space.
OUR DREAM COLLABORATION:
CARLY & RACHEL: Working with a boutique hotel chain to outfit a series of properties in all the places we work. So far, that’d be Peru, Argentina, and Uganda. We have tons of ideas for creating an epic hotel experience in each destination!
THE ONLY PLACE BETTER THAN DALLAS & NEW YORK CITY:
CARLY: Barcelona or Buenos Aires.
RACHEL: Paris. The food, the wine, the style, the city itself. It’s perfect.
WHEN I FEEL UNINSPIRED:
RACHEL: I find a good friend and walk the streets of whatever city I’m in at the moment. Or I get outdoors into some beautiful countryside with a glass of Burgundy red.
CARLY: I pour a big glass of wine (notice a theme in our processes?) and peruse old travel photos. I always find something inspiring – an image, a moment, or feeling – when I look back at glimmers of adventures past.
ADVICE I WISH I HAD 5 YEARS AGO:
RACHEL: As a woman, you’re always quicker to doubt yourself and your own capabilities and experiences than you should be. Some fraction of those concerns may be valid, but the majority aren’t. So, ignore all of them.
CARLY: Mistakes happen. Find the beauty and lesson built into each one of them.
IN 5 YEARS FIND US:
CARLY & RACHEL: On a plane flying to visit our 100th artisan partner workshop OR in one of our showrooms stateside. We get excited about expanding our digital store to a physical shopping experience–one that pushes the “norms” of what traditional home decor shopping looks like today. Better yet, one of us will be in each place.
ABOVE ALL ELSE:
RACHEL: Do something meaningful with your career. You spend the majority of your time working so make it count.
CARLY: Leave this world and all the people you encounter a little better than you found them.