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Is sustainable home décor brand The Citizenry worth the hype?

We put this Instagrammable brand to the test.

Kansa bronze bowls and handwoven palm leave coasters with a champagne glass and cashews on a green kitchen linen Credit: Reviewed / Felicity Warner

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The Citizenry’s strong social media presence portrays a modern lifestyle filled with beautifully-made, neutral-tone décor and home goods. All you have to do is scroll through Instagram and you are likely to come upon the brand’s aesthetically pleasing throw pillows and beautiful earthy vases created by makers in countries around the world.

Like many other brands in recent years, The Citizenry brings sustainable business practices to the forefront of its products. Co-founders Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley have worked to preserve artisan craft by paying wages that average twice the Fair Trade requirement, along with ensuring that the artisans they work with have a happy, safe working environment.

With all of the social media buzz around The Citizenry, we wanted to get our hands on some of its artisan-made products and see if they’re worth the hefty price tags they carry.

And with that, here’s everything you need to know about The Citizenry.

What is The Citizenry?

A mantle with a fireplace, firewood, woven boxes with a throw, a rug, and two linen stockings
Credit: The Citizenry

The Citizenry claims to bring high-quality, artisan goods at a price cheaper than most traditional boutiques.

From rugs to bedding to tableware, The Citizenry offers ethically-made and ethically-sourced home products with in-depth information as to how, where, and who made the product.

To put it simply, The Citizenry works directly with the artisans to ship the handcrafts directly to you, which means that these artisans working in workshops, mills, co-ops, and studios around the world are earning a fair wage in a safe and happy work environment.

To establish these sustainable partnerships, The Citizenry’s team travels to 13 countries including Uganda, India, Ireland, and Argentina to collaborate with the makers in person.

You can read in-depth bios about each of The Citizenry’s partners that include first-hand accounts of how they started off, what their goals are as artisans, and the cultural roots and significance of their art. You can even learn how many people work in each workshop or studio and how many artisans work there.

For example, the Weavers of Huancavelica create intricate alpaca throws in Peru. On The Citizenry’s website, you’ll read, “Perched high up in the Andes, surrounded by streams of icy mountain water and herds of grazing alpacas and llamas, these villages are amongst the most beautiful in Peru. Their remoteness has long been a natural barrier, making it nearly impossible for these talented weavers to work with outsiders.”

Megan McCarthy, an executive editor here at Reviewed, raves about the indigo Diamanta Throw made by the Andean weavers that she purchased from The Citizenry.

“I live in an old, drafty building in Boston, so this blanket gets a lot of use, especially in the winter,” says McCarthy. “It's perfect for curling up while watching a movie, and I basically leave it draped over the couch cushions, so it's easy to grab when it gets cold. The design matches my style and the fabric is super soft. It's on the thinner side—think t-shirt weight instead of a heavy sweater—but that just makes it easier to wrap up in.”

With all this in mind, I decided to see if The Citizenry lives up to its Instagram hype, beyond hand-loomed throws.

What I ordered

Coasters and bronze bowls with a glass and cashews
Credit: Reviewed / Felicity Warner

Most of the home items from The Citizenry come in a neutral shade, making mixing and matching the décor easy. Although from different origin countries, the coasters and bronze bowls pair nicely.

I ordered these food-safe Dasar bronze bowls, which comes as a set of two for $75 and a set of four woven Mahaba coasters for $55.

The items arrived at my house in about a week, which was even quicker than I had expected in comparison to other sustainable or “slow” brands.

While the products came tightly and safely wrapped in paper, they arrived together in a regular cardboard shipping box with no additional documents or cards for further details on the products. All of the manufacturing and artisan information is available on The Citizenry’s website, but I would have loved to have had some sort of card or paper detailing each product’s origin country and workshop or co-op. In retrospect, this does cut down the amount of paper and printing necessary, which may be purposeful.

The dazzling Dasar bronze bowls were handcrafted in India by Artisans of Senapati, a collective of 35 metalworkers based in Pune—a city in western India not far from Mumbai—that creates beautiful bronze accessories, including these Dasar bronze trays that match the bowls I bought and this elegant copper Palo Santo holder.

Two Kansa bronze dip bowls on a wooden counter
Credit: The Citizenry

These bronze bowls are inspired by the traditional thali dishes used throughout Indian cuisine.

Kansa bronze—an Indian name for bell metal—is a high-quality copper alloy, giving this particular set of bowls its stunning gold-ish tone.

Each bronze piece is made from a family-run workshop that’s been crafting for over 400 years. Artisans go through a complex process of die casting, sanding, heating, molding, and polishing to bring a high-quality product to your home.

The Dasar bowls hold weight—you can tell the material is of higher quality than most gold or copper-plated bowls. The Kansa bronze is beautifully brushed, giving a soft and sleek appearance.

I can totally see myself using these for a fancier dinner set-up, for a quick snack, or even as a small tray for rings and accessories.

My only qualm is there seems to be some staining inside the bowls, which I can only assume maybe be the color of the raw bronze itself. While it’s not a big deal to me (it adds more character to the bowl), it does feel slightly distracting to the design of the bowl itself.

For my second purchase, the Mahaba coasters—along with this handwoven Neema basket—are crafted by The Women of Mukono, a cooperative of 32 women based in Uganda, who are all working mothers providing for their families. The women have spent time teaching others in their communities—including their own daughters—the time-honored craft of weaving palm leaves. The $55 price tag felt a bit steep for four coasters, but this price guarantees a fair wage for the mothers who made them.

Three natural tan and black color block coasters with a glass of water on a wooden counter
Credit: The Citizenry

Made of locally sourced palm leaves, these coasters are great for dinner or cocktail hour.

The half tan and half black color block style looks even bolder in person. I can easily see these coasters matching anyone’s style, as it did mine. While I expected the hand-woven palm leaves to feel rough to the touch, the material ended up being extremely soft—almost like satin—due to how tightly and meticulously the coasters are wound.

I used these coasters a few times with no problems, until I left a glass of cold water for too long. The sweating mason jar sat on the coaster for an hour or two, and when I picked up the coaster I noticed it left behind a brown-ish green stain in the shape of a circle on my white table. I scrubbed the table with soap and water immediately, but the stain remains.

I am surprised that the dye used on the coaster is so easily transferable. Because of this experience, I don't recommend these coasters—you'll ruin your coffee table or countertop.

Is The Citizenry worth the hype?

While I am impressed by the craftsmanship of both the bronze bowls and the coasters, I cannot see myself recommending the coasters for the reason that the palm leaves seem to leak dye so easily.

Despite this, I really do appreciate The Citizenry's mission. Learning about each workshop or studio is not only fascinating it’s important in understanding the cultural significance each piece holds.

The Citizenry works hard to provide a sustainable supply chain of artisan products that don’t over-produce or exploit workers. With the high-quality craftsmanship and fair trade environment in mind, I feel many of the price points are well-justified.

I can definitely see myself getting good use out of the bowls—and can’t wait to share with my house guests the histories behind them.

Shop all things home at The Citizenry

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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