During 2022, while we spent the weekend filming the Des Moines Arts Festival, we stopped by Dotl'izhi to catch up with a happy customer. Dotl'izhi received an Award of Excellence at the festival, which is prestigiously recognized as one of the top in the nation. The Indigenous artist behind the jewelry, Alicia Velasquez, and Studio Process Founder, Laura Formanek, were peers in a business accelerator back in 2021 through the Iowa Center for Economic Success. Alicia was in the process of opening her brick-and-mortar space in Iowa City and Laura was dreaming up the next phase of business ownership, Studio Process, after 4 years as a freelancer. The cohort met virtually, so the two finally officially met in person for the first time during the 2022 DSM Arts Festival. We were excited to see Alicia back at the 2023 festival as well, sharing the unique origin story behind her work.

From Dotl'izhi's website: "I am Apache, Yaqui, and Spanish. My father who was Apache, left me a legacy, would always tell me stories about our people and to never forget where I came from or who I am. When the struggles of life get a little too much, I can hear his voice echo in my head "NEVER forget that you are Apache". Then I get up, dust myself off and continue the battle. I have childhood memories of my father sitting at the table by his bed creating beautiful beadwork. I longed to be like him and create such beauty, and now I am. He would always use the color turquoise in his beadwork, which to me represents strength, beauty and worth."
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