Angel “Rodri” Rodriguez, the Miami-based floral designer and CEO of Rodri Studio, says, “An abuela’s influence is generational, starting with my great-great-grandmother, great-grandmother, grandma, and then me.” He recalls that, even as a young child, his grandmother and great-grandmother recognized his natural talent for arranging flowers and encouraged him to pursue it. “Looking back, all of that led to where I am today, without me even knowing it,” he says.
The Cuban-born designer moved from the city of Santiago de Cuba to Puerto Rico at the age of nine and then to Miami in his early adolescence. He recalls that back in Cuba, all the gardens were filled with spray roses, which are smaller versions of the common rose and typically have multiple blooms on each stem. Rodriguez’s tatarabuela (great-great-grandmother) Julia Lopez would ask him to cut spray roses for her, and he would also give them to his mother on her birthday.
“Looking back into my childhood, I remember picking flowers from the neighbor’s garden. I’ve always loved putting together little bouquets. Thinking about it, I feel flowers were always a part of me; somehow the universe conspired and I ended up a floral designer,” he says.
It was Rodriguez’s bisabuela (great-grandmother), Eutimia Lopez, who began the family legacy of floral design. She was a Puerto Rican florist who loved azucenas (lilies). He says, “I remember we would go to this retailer [along with my grandmother] every week and they would buy me silk flowers to do flower centerpieces at their homes or neighbors.”
Eventually Rodriguez moved on from silk flowers to the real deal. At 17 years old, he started selling florals for Mother’s Day. He then started creating arrangements for hotel lobbies and corporate offices, which led to him opening his floral design studio in Miami. Although he never took any formal courses, the combination of what his great-grandmother and grandmother taught him and his passion and creativity led him to find his style and identity within the floral design industry.
To honor his abuela and the other inimitable women in his family who helped shape his career, Rodriguez created an arrangement inspired by them. He says the arrangement is “dainty, romantic, and timeless.” He adds, “It very much resembles my grandma's style, but with an edge—and that’s something she has always had.”
The garden-inspired arrangement is colorful, abundant, and textured, thanks to a colorful mixture of premium roses, garden roses, peonies, ranunculus, lisianthuses, and tulips—all of which were intentional choices. Rodriguez says, “My abuela, Noelis Tamayo, loves roses and garden roses. Her favorite colors are coral, pink, and lilac.”
Beyond that, Rodriguez looked to the symbolism of the flowers to create a bespoke arrangement reminiscent of his abuela. “Roses speak of romance, love, and care. They are so delicate and because they come in so many colors, each one conveys a unique feeling,” he says. His abuela would be proud to call this arrangement her own.
This story was created as part of From Our Abuelas in partnership with Lexus. From Our Abuelas is a series running across Hearst Magazines to honor and preserve generations of wisdom within Latinx and Hispanic communities. Go to oprahdaily.com/fromourabuelas for the complete portfolio.
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