Today in The Street Where You Live you're meeting Rawan Rihani- designer, floral artist and entrepreneur. I met Rawan back in 2014, when, after fan girl-ing over her stunning, wild flower arrangements, I asked her to create my wedding flowers (you can see what she made for me here and here). Rawan is a true original who has managed to create a thriving business from her art, and her ethereal, uber creative and gentle energy, not to mention the fact that girlfriend rocks her vintage wardrobe like no other, makes her the go-to girl for Brooklyn brides and flower aficionados, who flock to her for custom bouquets, naturally dyed textiles, flower crowns and wall hangings. Now, take a walk with Rawan down the street where she lives in Brooklyn's lesser known gem of a hood, Ditmas Park, and get to know the girl behind the gardenias.
On her neighborhood of Ditmas Park, and her loyalty to Brooklyn:
Im grew up in Rhode Island, but I moved to Brooklyn in 2006. And I'm super loyal to my neighborhood! Ive been in Ditmas for the last five years. I live with my fiancé, Zac and our two cats, Lulu and Lali. Zac is a musician and composer and really fun to live with :) Our cats are pretty hilarious too.
We rent in an apartment building- we found it because a good friend was living here. Before this apartment we were living in an old Victorian home in Ditmas, but we had roommates. As much as we loved the people we lived with, Zac and I were ready to create a life together (we're getting married in June!) and so we moved here. I love it!
I LOVE my hood. Ditmas Park is such a diverse neighborhood. Everyone is here. No specific kind of person lives in it, it's a true diversity. My neighbors are the nicest people, they are always giving me a hand and are just generally happy and helpful. It's just a really pleasant and a wonderful place to live, good for all ages, and everyone old and young. I've also thrown a couple of amazing parties here- last year on Halloween and New Years for friends and neighbors. Our New Years Party was a dance party and all of our friends jammed on the piano. Then as a group we wrote our worries on pieces of paper and burned them outside on the back area in a little bonfire. Then we danced until 4am. It was amazing.
On owning her own business
I own my own business called Aurora Botanica, which focuses on floral design, natural dyes and wedding designs. Soon, I'll have clothing and headpieces, which will be launching in the Spring! The business is basically the result of all the creations of my life as an artist and designer. Everything Aurora Botanica is either made with or inspired by flowers and botanical elements. And because my job is basically freelance, each day is totally different from the other, since I do flowers for events and nothing is a routine. However, every other day without failI I get up early and drive to the flower market in the city, picking the best of the best in an inspired palette and then coming back to the studio to create and arrange.
I usually spend the mid afternoon creating, designing, and following up on emails for different projects and events I am planning and working on. Then the nighttime is when I tend to get most inspired. I sketch, dream up new concepts and think of fun new ideas to do over tea. Then if Im lucky I snuggle up with the cats and Zac for a little movie and chocolate.
On her journey to becoming the Brooklyn bride's wedding florist du jour:
I went to Rhode Island School of Design, and majored in fashion design because I thought it just fused so many things I love about art and design together. was drawn to clothing design because of my love for textiles, and also because you can create a mood and story though color and materials and bring clothing to life, watching it in motion on a person. That was fascinating to me. But after moving to NYC and working as a fashion designer, I found that the insane hours, the overload of work, and harsh expectations were becoming a huge drag on my creative brain. Eventually I got burnt out and decided to take a break. So I waitressed for a while, before one day taking up a job at a local flower shop down the street. And that was it. I fell in LOVE with working with flowers, it was absolutely refreshing! Over time, that evolved to creating flower crowns and making bouquets and bridal accessories for friends who were getting married. I was then inspired to get into the bridal market, and I discovered Stone Fox Bride, who embody a bohemian cool vibe. I loved their relaxed aesthetic as I felt it was similar to mine. So I met with them and ended up collaborating and working with them for three years! It was really fun and I got to create so much and meet wonderful people. But the time came when I felt that I had learned as much as I could and I felt that I was truly ready to launch my own business. I am so grateful for their support and am now so excited about this next step!
On misconceptions about her hood:
The only thing I don't like about my neighborhood is that people think Ditmas Park is like living in a different country or something, they think we live so far away! The truth is that it take 30-40 minutes to get to the city which is not bad! It's on an express train! The worst thing is sometimes seeing kittens that need shelter, and occasionally hearing the loud construction, which can be annoying in the morning. But all in all, I’ve got it good here. I really can't complain.
Describe your street in five words:
Lush, pretty, picturesque, kind, genuine
When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?
I feel connected to the trees. They are truly magnificent and wondrous trees. They are beautiful.
On how Ditmas Park made her who she is today:
Ditmas saved me! As soon as I moved to this neighborhood, I relaxed and felt like I could breathe. Before I moved here I had spent six years living in the cool but much more gritty neighborhood of Bushwick. Bushwick made me so anxious and distracted. It’s so much more quiet here, and it feels like there is so much more space both literally and psychologically, which is how I like to create and work. It really helps me focus. Bushwick is fun, but I prefer to visit and shop there or dine there rather than live there. It was an endless party for me there! Here, I feel so relaxed and focused and I think the environment absolutely has to do with that. The magnificent trees on my street are my favorite, its the opposite of Bushwick! I feel so much closer to nature here.
On her perfect day off in her neighborhood:
My perfect morning in Ditmas begins with an iced decaf soy latte at Coffee Mob, or at Cafe Madeline. I love to stop in and visit my friend Suzanna at Stems (which is a flower shop at Sycamore Bar). Then try and stop me from buying a beautiful candle from Collyer’s Mansion on Stratford, they have such beautiful things for the home. Then I'd want to finish my day by meeting Zac and friends for dinner at Lea or Castello Plan or Cafe Tibet. Such good food!
Rawan's top seven places to go in Ditmas Park:
Lea- a great Italian! Best Margherita pizza and ravioli and great wine too
The Farm on Adderley- I love to get lunch here. I love their french fries and kale salad.
Coffee Mob- An awesome cafe, really great pastries and great coffee.
Cafe Madeline- Yummy coffee, smoothies and sandwiches
Cafe Tibet- The best Tibetan vegetarian food.
Sycamore Bar- I don't drink spirits but I love to hang here to meet friends that do! I'm told that they have great whiskey.
The Castello Plan- wine!
Thank you, darling Rawan. You rocked my wedding day and my world. Make sure to follow RR on Instagram for serious floral inspiration. And if you're an NYC bride in need of flowers, give her a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.