Blooming In Black
How This West African Duo Is Redefining Floral Design, One Stem At a Time
Rugie & Effie are the faces behind Brooklyn-based floral design company, reflorish.
This Black History Month, Abby&Edna is honoring the past by looking to the future — spotlighting burgeoning pioneers who are making a name for themselves, while honoring who they are and where they come from.
This week, A&E spoke to Rugie Jalloh and Effie Cudjoe — the co-founders of Brooklyn-based floral studio, reflorish — about celebrating Black beauty through floral design and how their signature arrangements take shape , from stem-to-vase. reflorish
ON THE ORIGINS OF REFLORISH.
reflorish started in October 2020 after months of brainstorming how to enter a new space that neither one of us had previous experience in. Our business is rooted in a genuine friendship between two Black women. We hope to extend some of the appreciation we show one another to other Black people, specifically Black womxn, within our local Brooklyn community.
ON FLORAL INSPIRATION.
Artistically, we are superrrrrr inspired by Maurice Harris, the artist/florist/visionary behind Bloom and Plume. His work is phenomenal and never seizes to amaze us. We love how he also ties his personality into everything he creates! It would be a dream to take a course or do a workshop led by him one day.
ON CELEBRATING BLACK LEGACY IN 2021.
Remembering Black pioneers in 2021 (and every year following) is necessary for the preservation of legacy and impact. We must remember those who made what we are doing possible today. The beauty of life is that we are continuously building on a path that someone before us paved. As Black Women, we have a responsibility to always build on the beauty of our essence, and we hope to do that by celebrating each other through flowers.
A TYPICAL DAY FOR REFLORISH LOOKS LIKE?
5:45am – On a market morning, we wake up around 5:45am and immediately text each other to make sure we’re both awake. Sometimes these texts lead to “I need 15 more minutes” or “I’m going to catch the 6:20 train.”
7:00am – On her walk to the flower district, Effie usually stops by a Chase to withdraw the amount of cash we’ll use for the morning.
7:15am – We meet up at Jamali to pick out the vessels we’ll be designing in and look around for any other materials we might be running out of, like chicken wire or floral tape (both are great mechanics when designing an arrangement!)
7:30am – We start our shopping which consists of hopping from Dutch Flower Line to J Rose, and everything in between.
8:15am – Most of our trips end at J Rose because we end up chatting it up with the owner and other staff in the shop. They’ve become like family to us and are always imparting flower knowledge, good laughs and wisdom on us.
9:15am – We make it back to one of our apartments (yes, we arrange at home!) and immediately process the flowers by stripping the stems and putting them in water.
9:30am – Since we are both [still working] full time, we usually hop on our laptops after processing to answer emails and start any work-related projects we have for the day.
12:00pm – It’s best for flowers to process for a while so they are able to properly hydrate, so we usually don’t begin arranging until lunch time. Sometimes we order from a local restaurant or make a quick bite before getting our vessels ready.
12:30pm – Stems are flying, the arrangements are coming together, and our floors are covered with brown paper and excess leaves.
1:15pm – We’ve wrapped up the arrangements and give them some time to sit while we jump back into emails and meetings.
3:00pm – Deliveries are scheduled and we take a quick break to grab some photos and content of the arrangements!
6:00pm – We have wrapped up our work days and have all of the deliveries out of the door. Now our evenings are mostly used for cooking dinner, responding to emails and mapping out future orders and partnerships.
8:30pm – On a good day, we try to wrap up all reflorish work before 9pm…
10:30pm – Rugie sends Effie a text (or vice versa): “We should think about doing…” It never really stops.