LIKE THE PUFFY CLUSTERS of yarrow flowers that blossom during the summer, Shayai Lucero (Laguna Pueblo) is a rare delight. As the owner of Earth & Sky Floral Designs, she is among the very small percentage of Indigenous people working in the flower industry. “I am always navigating spaces,” Lucero says. “I may be the first Native person customers have had interactions with.”
At her Laguna shop, Lucero uses the art of conversation, known in Spanish as plática, to get to know her customers and create arrangements specifically for them. A former Miss Indian World and a University of New Mexico graduate with degrees in biology and chemistry, she has been commissioned by the FBI, Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art, the Miss Indian World Pageant, and tribal leaders throughout the state.
Lucero’s Indigenous practices and beliefs inform her creations as well. “As a Pueblo person, we do things in even numbers,” she says. “I talk to the flowers when they come into my shop. I welcome them. I send them off with prayers and bless them before they go.”
In the late summer, Lucero forages the fields near the pueblo for Native plants like sage, globemallow, snakeweed, and yarrow. She often asks her wholesalers for nontraditional blooms to use in her arrangements. “There are thousands of plants out there,” she says. “They are all beautiful.”
A floral designer for seven years, Lucero continually advocates for the medium. “It has a short life,” she says, “but it’s still art.”