Rebel Rebel are pioneers of the artisanal East London we have come to love so deeply, and from whimsical beginnings a bonafide neighbourhood institution has emerged.
We're delighted to welcome their beautiful bouquets to Floom, for your browsing pleasure! Like most of our favourite flowers, the iconic floristry of Rebel Rebel sprung from roots a little wild and untamed. A bouquet gifted to co-founder Mairead Curtin by her boyfriend was enough to spark a freewheeling journey into the flower world.
From the “floristry might be fun, no?” conversation between Mairead and fellow founder Athena Duncan sprung a few days-worth of courses at the Jane Packer and Paula Pryke flower schools.
Two years later, and from these humble-yet-self-assured beginnings, came the pair’s first commission: centerpieces for the 90 tables that would be filling Grosvenor House for a prestigious restaurant awards ceremony. “We worked hard, we learned our craft, learned about flowers, worked even harder, learned more,” says Mairead Curtin, with the cool understatement presumably needed to see out such a debut, unfazed.
‘From tiny seeds…’ and all that jazz, right?
The first Rebel Rebel flower shop was situated on Broadway Market, long before the street became a (re-)born again go-to for locals and visitors alike, eager to indulge in delicious, artisanal wares of all kinds. With its spunky, bright blue façade and meticulously chosen stems sourced straight from New Covent Garden Market, it very much embodied the ideals that the current iteration of Broadway Market is built on.
Today, almost two decades later, Mairead and Athena have carved out something of a Rebel empire for themselves in their home of East London. They maintain a presence on Broadway Market in the form of a market stall, nestled amongst like-minded creators of delicious baked goods; cheese and meat connoisseurs; good-time buskers and seasoned dealers of vinyl records.
There’s also another market stall, situated at that other bastion of East London market-life, Old Spitalfields Market. Here, their striking blooms fan out from their designated spot, emanating a burst of natural good vibes amidst the bustle of lunch-break city boys, bewildered tourists and those slightly odd folk who are drawn to the grimy Victoriana of the pubs once haunted by the likes of Jack the Ripper and other characters of London-past.
We didn’t want to follow fashion, we wanted to do our own thing.
Last but not least on the store front comes their most recent addition: a brand spanking new shop smack bang in the entrance way to the new Mare Street Market. The new market is testament to the vision of artisanal local businesses such as Rebel Rebel: a vast mecca of the music, drink, food and, yes, flowers that have helped make this part of London so beloved, so thriving once more. It’s not built only on nostalgia either – progressive touches such as wholly cash-free transactions and commitment to reuse and recycling (the building itself is a formerly abandoned Job Centre) is admirable.
For those who think they’re too cool for East London these days, you could really up your Insta-game by visiting one of the Tuscany-based floristry workshops that Rebel Rebel run, or enrolling at the course they hold at the Cohim Flower School in Beijing. How do they do it, these two friends who came to flowers almost on a whim and named their company after a favourite David Bowie song because, “we didn’t want to follow fashion, we wanted to do our own thing.”
The answer it seems is two-fold: first, embrace a collaborative spirit and surround yourselves with inspiring people. “We built up a Rebel team of imaginative, creative, clever florists whose ambition and flamboyance fills us with excitement-” says Mairead, before adding mischievously, “-whilst also tolerating their wide range of musical tastes! We’re talking Lana del Rey, Steely Dan, Beyonce, Crowded House…”
If the huge affection and respect for their team is clear then so too is their passion for the aspect that first kickstarted the whole venture: the flowers themselves. The vastness of nature provides continuous inspiration that shows no signs of slowing down. “Our favourite flowers? Impossible to answer!” says Mairead. “Today it’s butterfly ranunculus, yesterday it was fluffy mimosa, last week it was fritillaria persica, last month it was Icelandic poppies… next week? Who knows!”
One thing’s for sure: whatever flight of fancy takes hold of the Rebel Rebel team as they scour the markets for the freshest blooms each week, we cannot wait to see them spring up on Floom. Keep your eyes peeled here for all their latest bouquets!
Words by James Darton
Photographs by Christina Wentworth