Still revelling in the after glow of Valentines Day, we caught up with Bérénice Rogombe, CEO McQueens Flowers. We hear all about the brand's humble beginnings, the acclaimed McQueens Flower School, and where Bérénice's love of botanicals sprang from.
McQueens Flowers has been telling stories with flowers since 1991, please tell us about your humble beginnings?
McQueens Flowers has been building a reputation around the world for creating beautiful and memorable floral creations perfectly matched to every occasion and setting. What started out as a home of simple, stylish London flowers - beautifully presented, has grown to become one of the world’s most respected and admired floral designers – setting the standard for floral quality, style and elegance.
With creative studios and workshops in London, New York, and Seoul, McQueens is a truly international affair.
You’ll find McQueens Flowers designs in some of the world’s most loved and admired luxury hotels including Claridge’s, Shangri-La, Corinthia, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Mandarin Oriental and The Grove in London, and the Peninsula hotels in New York.
We work closely with each client to understand their needs and develop a creative direction to develop a signature style unique to each space.
We’re proud to have provided flowers for Vanity Fair’s Oscars After Party for more than 25 years, to be the floral design partner for the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s Wimbledon Champion’s Ball and the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – along with hundreds of other stunning events such as BFC Fashion Awards and Olivier Awards as well as high-profile weddings each year.
McQueens Flowers’ Flagship Atelier and International Flower School opened in the heart of London’s Mayfair in 2020, set across two floors in one of the area’s most elegant heritage buildings.
Flowers are central to both of our brands, where did your love of botanicals stem from?
I’ve always been interested in plants and making things for myself. I also love the fact that they have the power to heal. As a small child, I had my own patch of garden where I grew vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. A fruit tree that sparked my imagination was a guava tree that grew of its own accord in my patch; I was very surprised to see its beautiful flowers bloom and then later enjoy the sweet fruit.
McQueens has grown to become a global business, with locations in London, the USA and Korea. What practices help you to de-stress when things start to become overwhelming?
Getting enough sleep is very important to me. The quality and amount of sleep I have can affect my mood, energy levels, concentration and overall functioning so I make sure that I have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, and try to stick to a consistent schedule. I use the anatomē Somali Frankincense essential oil every night after taking a bath and using the anatomē Relax and Sleep Himalayan bath salts.
I also practice meditation to help instil a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefit both my emotional well-being and my overall health.
However, the most important drug is a good sense of humour!
We both have an appreciation of the power of scent, what are your favourite natural fragrances?
Without a doubt the Okoume Resin from the Wood-King of the Equatorial Forests of Gabon where I’m born.
As a young child, my grandmother would bring me to the beach after school. Walking through the forest with her, hand-in-hand, the scent of the Okoume would fill the air with a subtle mist. Those evening strolls are one of my favourite memories and the scent continues to transport me back to those nights in Gabon.
You have been involved in some amazing installations and projects. Are there any that stick out in your memory?
Christmas is always a crazy time in the world of McQueens. Working with some of the largest and most prestigious hotels in the country is a huge privilege for the business, but Christmas is when all of our creative and operational energies are stretched to their maximum.
This year was no different but I am so proud of the team's hard work and relentless determination. The feature episode on Channel 4 of our installation at the Corinthia was I know a very proud moment for the whole team, but personally being able to stand back and admire the vast array of unique installations across our client sites is what really sticks in my memory.
From a white Christmas at Claridge’s, to the twelve days of Christmas at the Grove and Christmas in Space at Shangri-La; every McQueens installation has its own uniqueness.
We've heard great things about the McQueens flower school, can you tell our readers a bit more about what happens here?
The school represents the tip of the McQueens Flowers creative spear. It is our funnel from top to bottom, where we look to find, nurture and develop talent, whilst also providing a 360 journey of development where many of our creative leads return to as tutors.
Some of McQueens most experienced and talented florists work within the school to support classes including our Senior Lead Creative Alison Lythgoe. We also look to attract external talent with many of the top florists in the country freelancing as tutors for McQueens.
McQueens is always looking for the next generation of experienced and talented florists. Come join our floristry family.Any tips for selecting the perfect bouquet for your partner?
Fresh, long lasting and impactful, if in doubt you can’t go wrong with roses. Go big she’s worth it!
You have a beautiful store in Mayfair, any date night suggestions around that area?
The Twenty-Two, it ticks all the boxes, great atmosphere, delicious menu, wine selection and excellent service from start to finish. Attention to detail is everything.
Do you ever choose flowers to suit your mood or to create a particular feeling (colour and aroma can often help brighten or calm)? If so, please share your favourites and why.
Colour and scent are the essence of my love for flowers. I love bright and vibrant coloured flowers that always lift my mood, McQueens Bisous Tulip bouquet always puts a smile on my face. We have recently launched our valentines partnership with Whispering Angel and the scent of the O’Hara and Love Lace roses in the bouquet really inspires a sense of tranquil romance in me.