Ana Patricia Boutique: Style with a purpose


Nancy Velder of Milford was on a mission trip more than 20 years ago when she saw a young woman, Ana Patricia Vallejo Alvarez, put a wire into her mouth and make a flower with her teeth.

She got to know her over the week and told her that if she made pieces for her to bring back to the United States she would sell them for her and send the money back to her. 

That is exactly what she did. 

Velder started by keeping a box of the designs in her car and selling them wherever she met people, typically at church. Eventually, she started doing home parties. Her family started using a bedroom in their house for the items, then moved everything into their detached garage and used it as a store.

Two years ago, they opened a storefront in downtown Milford. 

Velder said meeting Vallejo Alvarez was simply meant to be.

“It was totally a God thing,” Velder said. “I saw a need, and I met it. I didn’t even think about it. It was just like, ‘We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to help these people.’”

Vallejo Alvarez’s aunt in California took the supplies to her and brought her finished products to Velder. Vallejo Alvarez said her jewelry was very simple at first but got more artistic as it went along. Some of her family members began making items as well.

The money from the sales helped support her family and pay for her schooling, a computer and a printer. She said although these things may sound basic to some people, they were huge for her. No one around her had them. 

She then started using the money to help more of her loved ones. They built bathrooms for families, helped fix leaky roofs and paid for people’s medical bills. 

Vallejo Alvarez was the only person in her family to own a car, and she used it for good.

“There was a lot of drug problems around, many people doing drugs. So, I used to try to convince people that I know and say, ‘Hey, I can take you to the rehab center,’” she said. “I used to bring these guys to the rehab center so they could have that life change.”

Vallejo Alvarez said it felt unbelievable that all of this was happening. People who saw what she was doing often asked her how they could do the same thing, but she told them it was impossible without having “a Nancy.”

“I was really, really thankful that she was willing to do this job, and for free. It was her heart. She’s just too kind,” Vallejo Alvarez said. “It is not possible to do this without her and her family and friends around her and all the community in Milford.”

She eventually earned degrees in industrial engineering and architecture and moved to California to be an industrial engineer.

She and her family still visit Mexico often to work with the churches. Vallejo Alvarez, who plays several instruments, said she enjoys teaching music to the kids there.

Ana Patricia Boutique became for-profit about seven years ago after Vallejo Alvarez’s move. The business now sells jewelry, clothes, women’s comfort clothing and accessories. Velder passed ownership of it to her daughter, Erika Stauffer, but still works in the front of the store helping customers.

“It's almost like a ministry that goes on in here,” she said. “I just love connecting with the people and truly caring about our customers and making lifelong friendships and making them feel better about themselves.”

The store, which can be found on Facebook and Instagram, still makes a point to give to the community. Velder said it donates to organizations such as the Backpack Program, the City Mission, City Impact, St. Monica’s and schools.

Velder still talks with Vallejo Alvarez every day.

“She’s our child without papers,” she said.