For this month’s edition of Lulu Loves we spoke to our friend and florist Rachael Barker, who has spent her time in lockdown delivering flowers across the capital and donating a portion of the profits to charity. Here she tells us about her new daily routine (including flower delivery at 1.30am!), what she’s been reading and watching and which flower cat Ronnie can’t get enough of.
FIRSTLY, HOW ARE YOU COPING WITH OUR NEW WAY OF NORMAL?
"The new way of normal is wonderful. I’ve been remarking for a long time that we, as humans, need to slow down - and take time to really appreciate ourselves and look after ourselves properly. The kinder and more patient our society is – the better. All we have to do is take a step back, be more caring and remember how fortunate we really are. I take everything day by day and try not to worry about anything that’s out of my control."
WHAT DID YOUR DAY LOOK LIKE BEFORE CORONAVIRUS AND WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE NOW?
"Before the Coronavirus I would wake up at 4am and go straight to the Flower Market. As a florist, you become used to waking up in the witching hour and starting your day early. I’ve always been good at getting up earlier than others - because it makes me feel more productive. I’ve had my breakfast at the market, got everything on my shopping list and driven back to the East End before 7.30am usually! Now, the mornings are earlier! My flowers are delivered to my front door by my incredible suppliers in Holland. They arrive at 1.30am, so I wake up, condition them and put them in fresh water. Then I have a cup of tea and go back to bed until around 5am. I’m working from my tiny kitchen – which makes a change from the studio! But I’m extremely tidy so it feels very calm and comforting. My little cat Ronnie loves it too, she especially loves Ranunculus!"
ARE YOU MANAGING TO HAVE SOME DOWN TIME AT THE MOMENT AND IF SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO CHILL OUT?
"My down time is when all the flowers have been delivered. I love knowing that my clients have received their flowers and love them! I love reading and listening to audio books too – I can read a book in two days – I have an extremely addictive personality! I love going for walks – my closest park is Victoria Park, so I love a gentle walk around there listening to an audio book."
WHAT KIND OF KID WERE YOU? IS BEING A FLORIST ALWAYS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?
"I was terribly curious and ultimately very naughty. I was a tomboy who loved playing football and boxing. I would always play with boys and I loved making new friends. I always had a love of colour and how colours worked together - and I’ve always been extremely particular about details - it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older! Floristry was never on the cards but it completely makes sense to me now. "
WHAT PART DOES FASHION PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
"I used to work in menswear. I have always worn and prefer menswear over womenswear. My ‘work’ wardrobe and my ‘posh’ wardrobe have merged – now they’re the same. I love tracksuits and cashmere jumpers. I always wear trainers too. Always have! Frustratingly, as a florist you get utterly filthy and I’ve ruined SO many beautiful jumpers over the years; but then I think, ‘oh well! It’s just a jumper’."
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO WEAR 'OFF-DUTY'?
"Off-duty I’ll wear merino wool wide-legged trousers, silk trousers and white t-shirts! Fresh white T- shirts are such a luxury! I’ll wear my hair down too – that’s always a sign I’m not at work. I’ll also wear jumpers I can’t afford to replace – I have a few Raf Simons, Richard Nicoll and Ganni ones that I’ll save for off-duty."
BEST ADVICE YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN?
"Never regret anything. Everything is a lesson. "
LOOKING AHEAD TO BETTER DAYS, WHAT DOES A PERFECT DAY OFF LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
"A perfect day off is going for breakfast at my favourite cafe E. Pellicci, meeting a friend for a cup of tea, then going home to relax in the garden. For me, time is such a luxury and the freedom to spend your time how you wish is perfection in itself. "
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT AN UNFORGETTABLE MEAL/PLAY BOOK/FILM YOU'VE EXPERIENCED RECENTLY(ISH) AND SIMPLY HAVE TO SHARE...
"An unforgettable book would have to be ‘Three Women’ by Lisa Toddeo. Full of realness and true experiences of women – nothing romanticised and unrealistic. An unforgettable film would be ‘Parasite’, I saw it at the cinema a few months ago and I thought it was perfection. It highlights so many issues in society – class struggle, poverty, stereotypes and wealth. An unforgettable meal for me, would ALWAYS be at Scott’s. It’s the most delicious restaurant and the ultimate treat."
From bags to treasure forever to our playful trainers and accessories, there's always a new piece of Lulu to love.