Indigenous-owned boutique opens in Iowa City with jewelry, artwork

As a child, Alicia Velasquez used to sit by her father’s side and watch him do beadwork, stringing the beads and weaving them in and out.

Her father, who is Apache, would be calmed by the practice, Velasquez recalled. He called it medicine.

When Velasquez began facing challenges in her life, she also turned to beadwork to center herself.

And, through it, created her own business.

Velasquez, who is of Apache and Yaqui descent, is an artist and owner of The House of Dotł’izhi, located at 327 Kirkwood Ave. in Iowa City. The boutique, gallery and studio opened Monday, which also marks the start of Native American Heritage Month.

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The month is meant to celebrate Indigenous cultures and traditions, as well as contributions made by Indigenous people.

Inside the boutique are colorful, beaded earrings, turquoise rings and other pieces of jewelry, all made by Velasquez. One wall in The House of Dotł’izhi displays framed pieces of art created by Velasquez’s daughter.

Artist Alicia Velasquez is the owner of The House of Dotł’izhi, a new boutique, studio and art gallery in Iowa City. Velasquez, a member of the Indigenous community, creates handcrafted jewelry using lessons passed down to her.

Velasquez started Dotł’izhi, pronounced Dot-Cluh-Gee, in 2019 as an online business. When she moved to Iowa City with her family last December, she began participating in art shows, including one in Des Moines and another organized by Summer of the Arts.

People were responsive to her work, wanting to know more about her culture. That interest spurred Velasquez to seek a physical location. She began working out of a small office, so that clients could meet with Velasquez to plan out their custom pieces.