A Glorious Life

Every cabbage patch begins with a simple impetus: to create something beautiful and nourishing. For our founder, Christina Strutt – forever known to us as Mama Cabbage – that call to sew, to tend and to grow hovered ever present in her orbit, perennially poised to strike. To spend time with her was to bask in the fizzing thrill of her fertile imagination, as she cast the world around her in a special kind of magic – a magic that we will bathe in and savour for the rest of our days. 

When, in 2000, her inspiration was sparked by a delicate piece of faded floral uncannily redolent of her childhood, she could scarcely have guessed that it would change her life –

and those of so many others, its beauty rippling out  over the years from her own verdant valley and spreading delight to homes across the world. For there, at Brook Cottage, within the hefty medieval stone walls of her home set deep in the rolling Somerset hills, the seed for Cabbages & Roses was planted.

Like all the best ideas, it took root around her kitchen table with her best friend, Brigette Buchanan. From the very beginning, they knew that they would only – could only – sell the things that they loved. And so, as their small children played and grew in their midst, Christina and Brigette took their own domestic lives as a starting point, offering up a slice of their own enduring pursuit of a life beautifully lived to the world. 

They were, Christina would say, ‘muddly and eccentric.’ They had no business plan. They didn’t know what a spreadsheet was, let alone how to use one. Bu, crucially, having met in their twenties at Vogue where Christina cut her teeth in the art department, they did know how to imbue everything they touched with enchantment. 

As it turns out, the business plan could wait. Surrounded by their families, the pair stuffed envelopes with catalogues for their mail order business – their pages bursting with those heralded things that they loved so very much – and sent them out into the world. The world, for its part, was beguiled. 

It is in keeping with the blissfully meandering nature of the business that it should have gently ebbed this way and flowed that.

When, one day in the 2000, Christina went to collect Kate – her daughter and now Cabbages & Roses’ Managing Director – from a flat share on Langton Street, just off the King’s Road, she spied the most perfect shop front and, enraptured, vowed that if ever she were to don a shop-keeper’s pinafore, she would do so there, on that very spot. 

As with so many of the threads that ran through Christina’s glorious life, providence was waiting in the wings. When, in 2002, her dear friend and founder of Egg, Maureen Doherty, rang to say that she’d found the ideal shop for Cabbages & Roses, it was with a certain inevitability that it so happened to be the very same place that had enraptured Christina a couple of years earlier. 

Unable to argue with fate, there, on that refined Chelsea street, flanked by antique shops and gloriously old-fashioned Italian restaurants – Christina set about creating the most beautiful shop in London, redecorating it with vigour for the seasons: white washed and fresh in summer; darker, cosy and fire-lit in winter. To step inside it aroused a feeling akin to coming home to the warmth after a long walk on a winter’s day – a sense that cannot be conjured by aesthetics alone. Christina’s warmth, humanity, humour, irreverence, and her ache for beauty in all things, formed the architecture of the place. And within that seductive scaffold sat her creations, offering exquisite comfort and uncomplicated joy to all who visited. 


Introduce customers to your shop with lifestyle and product imagery


Introduce customers to your shop with lifestyle and product imagery

Collaborations with Jigsaw, with John Lewis and with Uniqlo cropped up along the way. A string of additional shops were opened. A small library of books were penned. A commitment to sustainability was woven through each and every Cabbages & Roses’ collection. And, like all small businesses, there were the buoyant best of times and the less buoyant worst of times. 

Through it all, Christina was the constant.

She never loosened her grip on that first and guiding imperative: that Brook Cottage should be the linchpin, that the meeting point of the Strutts’ real lives should inform the cosy, gentle fabrics, the soft knits, the incomparably beautiful coats and the romantic dresses worthy of Hardy heroines. That abiding truth endured through shop openings and closures; through new flagship premises; and to a final move out of London and back home to Somerset. It did so because no scrap of what Christina created was manufactured. Every stitch, every print and every flourish was an expression of her own life – and life, as seen through Christina’s rosy eyes, was nothing if not beautiful. 

She may have left us for her keenly anticipated tea with The Queen on a particularly lovely cloud overhead, but she will never stray far from the cabbage patch she planted all those years ago. She is present in every fibre of its creation. And she was, of course, right: life is beautiful. If ever we needed proof, we need but look to what she left behind: not simply a business that trades in delight and beauty, but one in which family and friends and love are intertwined into its very fabric. The small children that once ran underfoot in the nascent days at the kitchen table now sit at Cabbages & Roses’ helm: as Christina’s daughter Kate manages the business, so Brigette’s daughter Violet designs the enduringly lovely collections as Creative Director. 

Christina is not simply held in their hearts but etched into their souls. Nothing could be more apposite. Christina had a deeply held appreciation for nature’s replenishing cycles –and what could be more natural that the children she loved and nurtured now taking up her mantle? 

In her own words, ‘Cabbages & Roses has beauty and kindness in its DNA – that will never be lost.’