When considering a home accessories collaboration, The Citizenry – a socially conscious decor brand that partners with artisans around the world – was the first to come to mind. With a shared passion for premium quality and responsible manufacturing, together we created the Madera Lumbar Pillow. Made by a fair trade cooperative of 14 Zapotec women in Oaxaca, Mexico, each Madera takes three days to weave.
Here Rachel Bentley and Carly Nance, the college besties behind The Citizenry, share their evening routines, travel hacks and more.
Bedside tables can reveal a lot about a person. What’s on yours?
Rachel:A photo of my husband’s and my first dance, Skeem Cedar & Citron candles, and a huge stack of books. I’m currently reading Hamilton.
Carly:A small basket I picked up in Uganda, a water carafe from Portugal, a Bellocq Le Hammeau candle and a copy of Bringing up Bébé (I just had a little girl).
Current pillow count?
Rachel:Four pillows (two with pillowcases, two with shams) and one perfectly placed Siempre Lumbar.
Carly:For function: Six. For style: One Ceniza Lumbar.
What are some ways you’re refreshing your space this new year?
Rachel:One goal for the new year is to finish my house, so I’ll be investing in some statement rugs from The Citizenry. We’re developing a line of hand-knotted rugs from the High Atlas mountains of Morocco.
Carly:I FINALLY finished renovating our 1920s tudor. I’m going to splurge on beautiful towels as a finishing touch to the master bath. I’m also planning to purchase some paintings from my favorites: Heather Day, Linda Colletta and Satsuki Shibuya.
Traveling around the globe means you’ve had your fair share of jet lag. Any tips or tricks to getting some sleep on the go?
Rachel:My dad taught me to arrive in the morning and plan a full day of activity. If you keep moving the first day of your new schedule, it’s easier afterward.
Carly:I book overnight flights and limit coffee so I can sleep on the plane. Once I land, I stay outside as much as possible. The sunlight helps me adjust to the local time.
Walk us through your before-bed routines.
Rachel: Week nights involve checking emails, sipping wine and snuggling my pup. Weekends are for reading, watching all the Oscar-nominated films and taking luxurious baths.
Carly: I put my daughter to sleep, pour a glass of wine, answer emails, wash my face (Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Mist is my little indulgence) and get my daily dose of Instagram inspiration.
The Instagram account you have to look at before bed?
Rachel:Currently obsessed with wood objects of all kinds. These gentlemen are master woodworkers: @woodwoven @hopeinthewoods @davemassman.
Carly:@airbnb to help me have dreams set in beautiful, far-off destinations.
How well do you know each other’s morning coffee order? Let’s hear it:
Rachel:Carly’s very predictable – always the pour-over of the day.
Carly:Rachel’s order is a decaf cappuccino with almond milk from Houndstooth.
What inspired you to launch The Citizenry together?
Rachel:In college, we recognized that we had very different skill sets that worked together beautifully. We took different career paths but agreed if one of us ever started something, we’d give the other a call. The rest is history.
Carly:We were both uninspired by the home decor options out there. We couldn’t find quality pieces that fit our style, standards and values. We decided to help consumers like us access the best, ethically-crafted designs from around the world.
What was the experience like visiting Oaxaca and meeting the Zapotec women who make the Lumbar Pillow?
Rachel:From the moment we walked in the door, the women couldn’t wait to show us their work – their faces beamed with pride as they told us about the symbols found throughout their weavings. Their favorite is a butterfly pattern – a symbol of beauty and liberty, which represents everything for which this cooperative stands. My favorite moments included sitting around a table, chatting over Mexican hot chocolate and meeting their little ones. It’s evident that these pillows aren’t merely objects – they are statements of their personalities and their Zapotec roots.
Carly:I’ve never regretted missing an artisan visit more! These women have become incredible partners.
The Madera Lumbar Pillow is hand-woven and dyed with locally-sourced materials including tree bark, flowers and bugs! It takes three days to make a single pillow. Could you describe this process in more detail?
Rachel:It’s pretty amazing to see how this beauty comes together. The women start by washing the wool in a river. After drying and combing out the wool, they spin it by hand to make the thread. From there, they dye the thread using native plant and bug extracts. Their knowledge of natural dyes is incredible. Then, they hang the threads to dry – a process that can take about two days for the dyes to be completely absorbed. Finally, the women weave the masterpiece together. Using a wooden loom, each pillow takes a day or more to weave. They then finish off the pillow with a hand woven cotton backing and gold zipper. And there you go! Each one is truly a work of art, made with incredible attention to detail. With each step you can trace the pride that goes into every piece.
[Ed. note: The Madera Lumbar Pillow has sold out.]