If you’ve seen it once, you won’t see it twice. With an untraditional approach to floral arranging, owner of Rebel Girl Floral Sothea Keller, rebels against the ordinary. Vowing to never make the same arrangement twice, orders are custom made and created to give each flower a purpose.
Sothea views herself as a garden florist, arranging “flowers for the wild at heart” and emphasizes the importance of creating a unique display while encapsulating the personality of each client.
Rebel Girl Floral
Her husband and business partner, James Keller, shares her approach. “I just want people to enjoy flowers and to experiment with just not having something typical,” he says. “I want them to be wowed.”
The couple’s exposure to the floral industry does not fall short. James’ mother and sister are professional florists, and Sothea has been in the business for almost 15 years. Working alongside her in-laws helped her learn the ropes. Primarily focusing her work on wedding arrangements, Sothea eventually began to branch out to other events and custom work.
Recognizing that the wedding industry is filled with florists, Sothea took another route—one that celebrates other important moments in life. After she, unfortunately, attended several funerals, she noticed that a majority of the arrangements fell flat. Seeing the same stark variation of flowers, shapes and colors, Sothea knew that there was a void that needed to be filled in the industry. “I wanted them to be beautiful,” she says. “These events should be celebrating someone’s life rather than mourning someone’s death.” Emphasizing the importance of representing the individual, she wanted her creations to emulate the memories that the person shared with others.
Paisley Ann Photography
Regardless of the occasion, the team makes each arrangement to order, and James says that clients often bring in photos for inspiration in hopes of achieving a certain look or essence. Though Rebel Girl Floral maintains the desired character or color story that the client wants, it ensures that the team will never recreate a direct replica of a prior arrangement. “[The process of creating] is not standardized,” James says. “It allows us more flexibility to truly make something that is special for an individual.”
Developing new ways of capturing beauty is what the industry is all about. Sothea says that she richly enjoys expressing herself creatively because of the endless possibilities that flowers offer. By sourcing flowers from local gardeners and pickers, they are able to purchase varieties that may not be available from big-bulk sources, which typically carry the classics, such as roses, carnations and baby’s breath. Ensuring high quality and freshness, local vendors make it easy for Rebel Girl Floral’s team to pick and choose what it wants in order to fulfill each custom piece.
Typically, opting for regional varieties, availability depends on the season. In the spring and summer, Rebel Girl Floral’s purchasing focus remains mostly local, including chocolate-scented orchids and much more. In the fall and winter, sourcing stretches beyond the country to locate unique species, including lotus flowers and more, from suppliers in Holland and South America.
With the vast majority of clientele granting free reign when it comes to design, this feeds Sothea’s imagination and desire to seek fresh ideas. “… I get bored when I use the same stuff,” she says. “I could love something one week but then use it so much that I want switch it up.”
Beyond the Vase
Pushing boundaries and taking an innovative approach, Rebel Girl Floral expands beyond the vase to wearable florals (think out-of-the-box boutonnieres, corsages and floral crowns) and illumafloral, which are LED light-infused flowers (primarily roses).
Dodge Creative Photography
With a background in technology, Sothea says that it was inevitable that James combined the two areas. Seeking innovation, James merged his two interests to develop Illumafloral. “Flowers are in a static place. The only innovative thing you can do with them is breeding new ones,” James says.
His creation sheds new light, literally, on arrangements. Giving off a soft, candlelit glow, flowers are illuminated with LED lights. Accentuated by the light, every detail in the petals is exposed, creating a breathtaking focal point.