Located in the heart of Downtown London, Rebel is an all-in-one kombucha brewery, cafe, and grocery shop. Owners Julie Kortekaas and Shayna Patterson take pride in their location – they encourage their customers to enjoy their carefully crafted Rebel lattes as they explore the shops and events that Dundas Place has to offer.
You might think that Julie and Shayna have their hands full with their triple threat business, but that doesn’t stop them from planning events of their own! Mark your calendars to celebrate the 6-year anniversary of Rebel on April 1 and the Punk Rock Flea Market (PRFM) on April 23.
Continue reading below to learn what Julie has to say about Rebel’s tasty drink collection, her passion for sustainable business practices, and the immaculate vibes on “PRFM” Day.
1) You recently changed your name from “Rebel Remedy” to just “Rebel”. What made you decide to make this change?
Answer: Rebel is what our customers started to call our biz a few years ago, and it’s caught on – it’s our shop’s name, it’s Rebel Kombucha, it’s even us ( “hey rebels”) or our customers ( “local rebel”). We like the simplicity and what it stands for too.
2) This Spring marks your 6-year anniversary of opening Rebel downtown, and it looks like you have lots planned to celebrate – free samples, birthday cake, and lots of great discounts! How has your shop changed since you opened in 2017?
Answer: Rebel has changed things up quite a bit over the years as our neighbourhood ebbs and flows, but for the most part we like to keep things consistent and good for some work-life balance! Our cafe is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10am – 3pm so our customers can count on us for Thursday morning lattes, Friday lunches with work pals, and Saturday 6-packs of kombucha for the weekend. Earlier in the week, the cafe is closed and we are in full kombucha production mode: brewing, bottling, labelling, and sending out hundreds of bottles of fizzy goodness to our regional stockists. Over the last few years, our retail shelves have also grown and gone online at www.rebelremedy.com, now including our favourite pantry goods and artisanal staples. Think: hot honey, freshly roasted coffee beans, juicy olives, and your new favourite mushroom powders.
Answer: Our customers are all very different and range in age from small kids to 70+, but it’s safe to say if it stays on our menu, it’s gotta be wildly popular! We’ve got different flavours throughout the year: Honey Lavender, Blueberry Mint, Ginger Green Tea, Cherry Lemon, Pear Turmeric, Rhubarb Vanilla, Mulled Cranberry, Citrus Jasmine, etc. It keeps things fun to shift the flavours with the seasons. Personally, I’m a sucker for anything rhubarb, so we make sure we get several hundred pounds of locally grown every Spring and Summer to juice and make our Rhubarb Vanilla Kombucha. It tastes a little like cream soda 🙂
4) Your shop has a strong focus on environmental sustainability, and it’s more than just a label. Why focus on direct-trade partners and sourcing ingredients consciously?
Answer: We’re trying to do the least harm while also sourcing high quality raw materials. Our direct-trade partners for tea (JusTea) and coffee (Pilot Coffee Roasters) have been fantastic to work with over the last 6 years, with their commitments to building relationships with producer communities and paying above fair prices. This directly supports a better life for farmers and co-operatives in the Global South with income for community development and environmental management.
We’re also consistently blown away by the quality and flavours that come from unique teas and coffees grown with care. It feels right for a kombucha brewery to serve a good cuppa too.
5) Your glass bottle return program encourages customers to bring back their kombucha bottles and jars for a return deposit. People often think of the challenges that sustainable practices can bring – can you instead tell us the way that bottle returns support your business and make things easier for you?
Answer: We serve our kombucha in 375ml glass bottles and our iced coffee, smoothies, chia puddings and more in 16oz glass jars – so far we have a decent return rate. We’re committed to being a low-waste cafe experience, but it also depends on customers participation and actively returning and continuing that circular economy. Being completely honest, it is absolutely not easier to do things in a more environmentally responsible way and certainly not cheaper. But, returnable consumables ARE making a mark and the idea that we can personally be more environmental responsibility is catching on. Returning our glass gets you back anywhere from 50c – $1 a piece, so it’s totally worth it for everyone to wash-return-and-reuse.
6) The Punk Rock Flea Market is a great way to bring people out to Dundas Place and support local vendors. How has the market changed from the early days operating out of Call the Office?
Answer: When PRFM began in 2016, we held quarterly markets at Call the Office that quickly grew a cult-like following. It was a great home base, but CTO closed and we had to find a new place to host events. Now, hosting PRFM on Dundas Place means we can include more vendors, more of our neighbourhood brick-and-mortar businesses, more local non-profit organizations, and more fun activations!
Since we started up again in Sept 2022, we’ve had anywhere from 30-55 vendors participating, a stage with local musicians and performers funded in part by London Music Office, partnerships with Odyssey Records + Cinema for entertainment, partnerships with the Winter Spectacular music festival, and more. We’ve also added the forest city’s sweetheart, Alayna of Soft Flirt, to our planning team alongside Shayna Patterson and I (and an amazing team of volunteers!).
The vibes are always immaculate on “PRFM Day” and everyone who is part of the market or attends the market always seems so positive and welcoming, not to mention that they are consistently supportive to our non-profit community partners: ReZonance Printing, Growing Chefs, Safe Space, My Sister’s Place, Atlohsa, Unity Project. Our commitment to sharing and uplifting those doing good in our community is a core tenet of being punk.
7) Do you have a favourite memory from one of the flea market events?
Answer: Each PRFM is special in it’s own right, and it’s impossible to pick a moment in time out of the whirlwind of activity and so many fun artistic things happening. We love when someone takes their first sip ever of kombucha on a hot day, we love when London Skate Co-op runs a skate competition inside the market, we love drag queen performances, we love when kids make businesses and table at the market, we love the community of people that has grown around this thing. We love sipping on iced coffee on the stoop of our cafe right before the market starts, and then seeing four thousand people milling about browsing all of our pals’ booths. Most of all, we absolutely love uplifting businesses that start out at a small table at PRFM and grow to e-commerce giants, filling tents with goods and making 10k per market – just unreal!
8) What’s something you’re excited about for this upcoming Punk Rock Flea Market?
Answer: The spring market is always the one that feels like a homecoming! We’re excited for warmer weather, filling the street with some seriously cool vendors and live music, setting out picnic tables on Dundas Place, partnering with our neighbour e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shops to put on the biggest and best PRFM ever!
9) Pay it forward – what’s your favourite Downtown business and why?
Answer: We love Attic Books. It’s in a beautiful historic building with lots of nooks to explore, tall shelves of well laid-out books, and a wildly curated awesome selection of art prints, maps, old photos, and curiosities. They’re great neighbours and a real destination on our block, with kind and smart staff and an eccentric owner named Marvin who always tips in rare coin. A true London gem.
You can find Rebel located in our directory. Check back soon for the next blog post. Thank you for continuing to support the London community.