“Quality and Trust are our most significant legacy.”
– Jean Cesar Reboul, founder
A Frenchman travels to Istanbul
Our story begins in 1895. Jean Cesar Reboul, a young French pharmacist, was traveling through Istanbul on his way to Trabzon, a city in the northeastern part of Turkey, to visit his father, who was working as an engineer to build the highway from Hopa to Trabzon. Istanbul, with its unique blend of old-world mystique and modern commerce, immediately captured his imagination. The entrepreneur in him was awakened, and he found the perfect spot, on Rue de Pera in Beyoglu, to open one of Turkey’s first pharmacies, the Grande Pharmacie Parisienne, or the Great Paris Pharmacy.
Enter the apprentice
In 1918/1919, there was a shortage of pharmacists, doctors and chemical engineers in Turkey. To address this situation, the government passed a special law allowing students to bypass high school by taking an exam that would allow them to go straight to university. Kemal Müderrisoglu, an orphan, seized this opportunity, and was one of the few students who succeeded in passing the exam and entering university as a 14-year-old.
Kemal first approached Mr. Reboul about an apprenticeship when he was in his first year of pharmacy studies at the University of Istanbul. Kemal wanted to learn at the feet of a master. However, Mr. Reboul was uncompromising. To be eligible for an apprenticeship in the Grande Pharmacie Parisienne, the young man would have to learn to speak French. Kemal was undeterred. He enrolled in evening language classes at the French consulate and returned to Mr. Reboul the following year, armed with his new language skills and the same level of determination. “Why do you insist on coming to this pharmacy?” asked Mr. Reboul, to which Kemal replied, “I know that you are a very different pharmacist and therefore I want to learn the profession from you.” His resolve paid off. In 1920, Kemal began his apprenticeship with Mr. Reboul.
When he finished his studies as one of the first graduates of the University of Istanbul’s Faculty of Pharmacy in 1923, Kemal was offered a lucrative position with the government. Yet he opted instead to continue working alongside his mentor, where he could pursue his passion for research and development within the pharmacy field. For the next decade, the two pharmacists laboured side by side, their mutual curiosity and fascination with their profession propelling them forward and prompting them to create innovative, forward-thinking products for their customers.
From apprentice to partner
In 1936, Mr. Reboul invited Kemal to be a full-fledged partner in the pharmacy. Although the young man lacked the funds to purchase a partnership outright, Mr. Reboul made an arrangement with him for payment, and once the terms were finalised, the pharmacy’s name was changed to Kemal and Rebul Pharmacy. Once Kemal had finished paying for his share of the business, in 1938, he changed the name to Rebul Pharmacy, to pay homage to the mentor who had given him so much.
The legendary lavender / An icon is born
The Rebul Pharmacy quickly grew in reputation and prestige, and one product in particular helped to cement the Pharmacy’s place in the minds and hearts of its customers, REBUL LAVANDA. The story of our iconic cologne begins in 1938. Originally made from lavender flowers growing in Mr. Reboul’s own garden, Rebul Lavanda soon became the fragrance of choice for Istanbul’s gentlemen. It was a part of a distinguished man’s identity; a tradition that was handed down from fathers to sons over generations. It’s use of pure lavender oils made it an attractive choice for barbers as well, who used it to pamper their customers, giving them soothing hair treatments that helped relieve stress. It was also a prestigious gift reserved for special occasions. In 1981, the cologne’s iconic status was sealed as it was awarded the gold medal by the International Beauty Products Quality Control Centre, an accolade that recognised and affirmed our tireless dedication to creating fragrances and skincare products of the utmost quality.
The Pharmacy becomes a family business
In 1939, Mr. Reboul decided to return to France, leaving his beloved pharmacy in the capable hands of his protégè and business partner, Kemal. Now a very successful and well-renowned pharmacist, Kemal later married and had three sons of his own. Mehmet Müderrisoğlu, or Mehmet Bey as he is affectionately known, was the youngest.
Born in Istanbul in 1948, Mehmet Bey was practically destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. When he was a young boy, his father brought home a guest who was a General Manager of a Swiss company. Upon meeting Mehmet, the man asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Mehmet replied, without any prompting from his father, that he wanted to be a perfumer chemist. He already had a toy pharmacy, his pride and joy, complete with small bottles, scales and a miniature mortar and pestle to play with. Young Mehmet’s ambitions made such an impression on the guest, that he sent him a calendar every year bearing the title, Monsieur le parfumerie chemist Mehmet Müderrisoğlu.
Mehmet and his brothers spent everyday after school working in the pharmacy. When Mehmet entered university, it was only natural that he would pursue pharmacy as the focus of his education.
- Understanding the importance of learning in a professional environment, Kemal organised apprenticeships for his son during the summer months, sending Mehmet to work at the companies Kemal manufactured products for and encouraging him to learn as much as he could from them. When Mehmet would return home, he was bombarded with questions from his father, asking him about all the new production methods he had learned in his time away, and picking his brain for inspiration for new products that they should include in their business. Early on in his studies, Mehmet developed a passion for the production side of cosmetics, and when he graduated from the Marmara University Faculty of Pharmacy in 1970, he began working in his father’s pharmacy. After two years, his father appointed him as the Official Pharmacist.
Bringing over 120 years of expertise to the world
Mehmet is now an accomplished author, TV personality, consultant and educator. And he can still be found where he feels most at home, behind the counter, serving the pharmacy’s customers. Mehmet had often dreamed of creating a line of products based on the pharmacy’s century-long history and knowledge, and making these available to the world. Yet with his busy schedule and multiple business endeavours, it seemed like his dream would remain just that. Until 2013, when Mehmet’s son, Kerim Müderrisoglu, gathered a team of talented individuals who share Mehmet’s vision and passion, to make his father’s dream a reality. Atelier Rebul was born.Read more about our Brand Story