Dallas natives Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley first discovered a fondness for working together during their time as undergraduates at Texas A&M University. Years later, after feeling uninspired by mass-produced home decor products, they set out to bring something more original to the market, which eventually led to The Citizenry, a new, globally inspired home decor brand.
“We both come from market research backgrounds, so when we started laying it out and realized what we were looking for in the market didn’t really exist, we started getting serious and putting together a plan,” Bentley says.
Both women noticed the things in their own homes that meant the most were those that had a great story behind them, whether they were purchased during a memorable trip or created by local artisans skilled in a specific craft. With this in mind, they traveled to South America in search of items for The Citizenry’s premiere collection.
“We set out to find artists who were the best in each category: We were looking for the best rug weavers, a leather workshop and the best street artists,” says The Citizenry co-founder Rachel Bentley.
“We set out to find artists who were the best in each category: We were looking for the best rug weavers, a leather workshop and the best street artists. We’ve approached it very systematically by category in order to find the right people,” Bentley says.
After a year of planning and developing a collection discovered during their travels in South America, Nance and Bentley introduced The Citizenry’s first online collection in August. All products are made in limited quantities, and collections from other countries will be introduced on a seasonal basis, beginning with Uganda in October.
“We know not everyone can travel the world to shop at these different markets and meet these amazing artists, so we asked ourselves if we could bring them the next best thing through an online experience,” Nance says.
The South American collection offers a variety of home decor products — including decorative pillows, hand-died wool rugs, alpaca throws and leather chairs — that have been crafted by artisans from remote regions of Argentina and Peru. Ten percent of all proceeds are returned to the community.
“It’s really a collaborative design process,” Nance says. “We look at what [the artisans] are already doing, because it’s really beautiful, and then we put a modern spin on it.”
The result is a unique style that falls somewhere in between the global designs you might expect to find at a World Market and modern pieces found in more mainstream collections of high-end decor.
Currently online only, Nance and Bentley are already brainstorming ideas for a digitally inspired, Dallas-based storefront that would allow buyers to come in and sample the products before making a purchase. Until then, the pieces appear to be speaking for themselves.
“When we see from the FedEx tracking that someone gets an order at 2:40 pm, and by 3:10 they’ve already ordered three more of that same product, that’s the best compliment we can get,” Bentley says.