STARTUP POISED TO MORE THAN DOUBLE STAFF IN 2017
A knock on the door used to signal a potential sale for one Zapotec artisan cooperative.
Without a coveted spot in the marketplace, the women weavers living outside Oaxaca, Mexico had to wait for people to stumble upon their building for business. The setup didn’t bring in many clients.
Now, thanks to Dallas-based The Citizenry their goods can be accessed by anyone with internet access.
As it does with other artisan groups across the globe, the home décor startup helped the women develop a set of designs that showcased their signature handwoven textiles with a modern twist. The resulting pieces have become some of the most popular items of the startup’s Mexico collection.
“We develop the business country by country, collection by collection, and we try to highlight a new material or new technique that’s native to each of those regions,” said Rachel Bentley, The Citizenry co-founder.
GROWING A HOME DECOR BRAND
When Bentley and her college friend, Carly Nance, founded The Citizenry two years ago, they wanted to create a home décor brand based on the values of their generation — millennials.
“For us, that meant tapping into transparency, authenticity, social responsibility, and doing that online, which is where our generation is so tied,” Bentley said.
So far, it’s paid off.
Last summer, The Citizenry raised $1 million and moved into studio space tucked away on Insurance Lane in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood. Bentley said the company’s sales have quadrupled from 2015 and its social following has increased tenfold.
To kick off 2017, she plans to more than double its staff from six to 14.
“By creating a product that is very much in tune with our customer’s need and at the right design and the right price point, that fuels growth more than anything else,” she said.
“It’s been an amazing testimony being able to watch them grow the business and take care of their community at the same time.”
Establishing their own artisan partnerships and selling directly to consumers enables them to keep pieces at more reasonable prices than luxury boutiques, she said.
They work with the various groups to fill any gaps in business resources and expertise. Ten percent of the company’s profits are invested back into the artisans’ communities in the form of Entrepreneur Development Grants.
For the Zapotec cooperative, the partnership has helped to more than double its staff and provided the women, who are mostly single or widowed mothers, with a reliable income.
“It’s been an amazing testimony being able to watch them grow the business and take care of their community at the same time,” Bentley said.
ON THE HORIZON FOR THE CITIZENRY
And that’s just one story.
In its two-year journey, The Citizenry has collected many more tales of cooperatives from Ireland to Peru.
“What we really wanted to be able to do with The Citizenry is share that experience of traveling all over the world, meeting new people, [and] learning about new cultures even if you never actually got to go,” Bentley said.
Its collection launching in early 2017 comes from Morocco. Bentley traveled to the country in August to meet the artisans.
“We were inspired by the colors, the confluences of different cultures, and designs that represent the area and the ancient history of craftsmanship,” Bentley said of the upcoming collection.
In the future, she hopes to expand artisan partnerships to more countries and possibly open showrooms beyond Dallas.
“When we set out to build the company, where we really saw the transformative power was in scaling the brand at a national level rather than just being confined to a handful of artisans or a small group of people,” Bentley said.
IF YOU GO
Holidays at The Citizenry Studios
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Citizenry’s Dallas showroom, 4619 Insurance Lane, Suite 202, in Dallas
What: The home decor startup invites the community to shop its Dallas showroom. The event will include complimentary gift wrap, calligraphy, and free cider and hot cocoa.
More Info: Vist The Citizenry’s Facebook page for more details.
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