Meet Ida De La Rosa-Ellis of The Marisol Deluna Foundation!

Meet Ida De La Rosa-Ellis of The Marisol Deluna Foundation!

After the passing of her adoring husband and son, Ida De La Rosa-Ellis found herself ready for change. She had to look within to see that her true passions could build a strong future for herself. Her inspiration came at the perfect time. She jumped head first into her art and her fashion designs. With the Marisol Deluna Foundation in her heart, she set out to help teach aspiring youth in San Antonio, TX and has made a name for herself amongst her adoring community. Being a native Texan, Ida has always stayed true to her Tejana roots. Her story began at the age of seven when she picked up her first needle and began to sew with the mentorship of her mother, grandmothers, great-aunts and aunts. Her mother told her going into high school, “I have taken you as far as I can. Homemaking will make you better.”, so Ida did just that. She grew her talents in sewing and design making. With the support of her teachers she went on to winning sewing competitions and fashion shows for all four years of school. Ida believed she’d become a homemaking teacher but that was not in her future. Something greater was and she would soon see just what was ahead.

Ida De La Rosa-Ellis, Marisol Deluna and Students at the Marisol Deluna Foundation Fashion Show.

Being the oldest girl in a Hispanic family, she was expected to attend college, but not away from home. She was accepted to some great universities but her father was not in favor. She needed to stay close to home and attend school near San Benito, TX.  So, she chose Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. Unfortunately, they did not have a homemaking courses, but they did have Architecture. With interest in design and being that this was the only field of creativity that sparked her interest, she went on to study Architectural, Structural and Mechanical Drafting and Design, earning an Associates Degree in Fine Arts, Majoring in Architecture and Minoring in Mathematics; with a 4.0 average, while having 3 jobs to pay for school. Two of those jobs were working in a fabric store and making wedding dresses for clients. After graduation, Ida moved to San Antonio to work in the construction field for 30 years, but still sewed- making Halloween costumes, wedding dresses, quinceañera dresses and even started her own line, De La Rosa Designs. Ida’s company served two purposes: drawing houses and sewing. She enjoyed this for some time but she began to notice it was turning into a fashion mad house. One thing led to another and now she is the sewing engineer for Marisol Deluna NY, head of education at the Marisol Deluna Foundation, and Creative Director at De La Rosa Designs.

Ida De La Rosa-Ellis photographed by Saige Thomas Photography.

We were lucky enough to chat with Ida about her work in the fashion community. Here is what she had to say.

SLTV: How did you meet Marisol Deluna and become a vital part of her team?
IDA: I meet Marisol Deluna in 2010, when she was looking for someone to sew a project. She was in from New York and a friend passed my name onto her about engineering her items.  I made 12 pillows out of her signature scarves and we have been creative together ever since. I am also the product manager for Marisol Deluna New York.  Basically, my company De La Rosa Designs, works for her company. I have been her sewing engineer for all of her runway shows whether in New York or right here in San Antonio.

Ida De La Roda- Ellis, Marisol Deluna and students outside the Marisol Deluna Foundation. 

SLTV: That is incredible! We know that you are also the Director of Education for The Marisol Deluna Foundation. How did you get started with that?
IDA: About 6 years ago, Marisol decided to start a foundation here in San Antonio, to offer mentoring to students in fashion arts, creative arts and just help to those needing guidance. She asked me to become the Director of Education.  She has allowed me to pass on my skills to others in a unique and inspiring way.  My husband, Robert Spence, of 20 years had just passed away and I was looking for a new outlet in life.  At first, it was a matter of looking for a place to be housed and then one of Marisol’s friends showed us the location we are in at La Villita.  We filled out all of the proper paperwork and started building, painting, constructing and just trying to get it ready for our grand opening, November of 2015.

L to R: City Manager Sheryl Sculley, SAPD Chief William McManus, Director of Education, Ida De La Rosa Spence, Founder, Marisol Deluna, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor. Marisol Deluna Foundation grand opening in 2015.

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In the beginning, it was hard getting the foundation ready for students and there were many challenges to overcome so that my assistant, Taylor and I would not overwhelm ourselves, keeping Marisol in the loop of all the things we were doing.  Camps, birthday parties and private lessons were our first endeavors; word of mouth was beginning to start, and students started coming in.  We were also creating items for the Marisol Deluna New York brand, having our garments made in-house.  Marisol designing her beautiful fabrics and I doing my best to engineer the items to sell in our boutique.  After all, it is “New York Design and Texas Made”; we are very proud of this.

In the years following the opening, we have had 3 fashion shows for our students, award winning interns at the University of Incarnate Word and we also started the Linda Luna Duffy Creative Hope Initiative; named after Marisol’s sister who died of ALS.  She was a special needs teacher in the Alamo Heights school district and her motto was, “I’m Special, Your Special”.  Some of her students are still with us today, by means of the Alamo Heights Unified Club and other entities. I put on great fashion shows for the past 3 years, utilizing designers with my students. I have also hosted fashion shows for the Fiber Artist of San Antonio.

Ida and one of her students, Kevin. Picture sourced from Facebook. 
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SLTV: Wow! You have accomplished so much with this foundation. The shows are always inspiring and as someone who attends, I can always see the love you share with the kids. What is your favorite thing about teaching the youth?
IDA: My superpower is patience, especially when it comes to my students, I try to pull out the best in them. Now, I may not have patience with adults, but if I am teaching them a skill, that is a different story. I know that my students are ready, when the shoes come off and just are ready to sit in front of a machine and learn. We do our best to teach other skills, such as knitting, crocheting, polymer clay jewelry, fabric dyeing, and many other fashion skills. When they are excited about a project, I get excited for them. They make me proud every day; what else can you ask for?  One of my many mottos’ is “If it looks good for your college resume, go for it and work hard doing it”. We do our best to teach life lessons with our lessons. I know they have the skills to do anything, it is just a matter of showing them how to take the steps to get to their goals.

The 3rd Annual Marisol Deluna Foundation Fashion Show, 2020. L to R: Gia Guajardio, Mya Gonzales, Pareezay Koreshi, Sloane Holdridge, Amelia Oeffinger, & Mackenzie Blake.

SLTV: It seems to me like you found the perfect calling for your life. What would you say is your personal mission when it comes to teaching kids and/or the fashion community?
IDA: My mission is to pass along teaching that sometimes YouTube cannot teach. Hands on training is always the best, zippers and buttonholes, along with other fashion skills are hard; practicing the skills makes us better.  I know that this is the generation of instant gratification, but they are capable of so many wondrous things. I would like to see San Antonio, TX become a fashion hub; these young students have the world at their hand with the internet, and with the support of the friends and family they can have a worldwide brand, whether fashion or accessory related.  We can help them achieve just about anything.

Summer camp at the Marisol Deluna Foundation.

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SLTV: Apart from the kids, I’m sure working with your best friend is just as fulfilling. What is your favorite thing about working as a team with Marisol Deluna?
IDA: Marisol allows me to be as creative as I want. If she does not like something that I make out of her fabrics, it often comes back in play at another time. She is the Ying to my Yang; sometimes we do not agree on everything. Working with her has allowed me to also step out of my comfort zone and engineer beautiful pieces. I have made so may garments for her that we ran out of room in my office to store them. One of my favorites being a paper dress we made for a go green fashion show in San Antonio, in collaborations with the Girl Scouts here in town when Marisol rebranded the Girl Scout scarves as an engineering marvel. Another time I love most is September fashion week, it’s always a fun time in New York City. Our design system works so beautifully. Marisol decides on what fabric and designs to make, I engineer the patterns and make the garments and Taylor makes all our accessories. What more could you ask for? We all make a great team.

“From the moment I was introduced to Ida in 2010 during a visit to San Antonio, it was apparent that her enormous heart was open to those in her life.  Suffice to say, I wanted to know her better. Referred to as “Miss Ida“ by our foundation’s students, her willingness to provide genuine mentorship is inspiring. Her commitment to bringing out the best in others is unwavering. We approach creativity differently, but this allows us to be better versions of ourselves. We balance each other constructively. I say this about very few people, but Ida is like a beloved sister.” -Marisol Deluna to SLTV 

Ida De La Rosa-Ellis, Marisol Deluna and Students photographed during Summer Camp.

SLTV: I can tell you are a part of a beautifully close-knit family type of team. Aside from the work you do with The Marisol Deluna Foundation, I know you also have your own designs. Can you tell us more about De La Rosa Designs?
IDA: I do design on my own for local fashion shows. I have participated in the Fiber Artists of San Antonio’s annual show and this year is no exception. I have one garment that was chosen called “Knots”.  An A-line dress with knots put into it above the waist below the hips and at the hem. I do my best to create ideas that come to me or that others give to me. I have worked with artists or designers that do not know how to sew; maybe they need to work on a patent or just need to see if their design will work. I am always there to help.

Fiber Artist of San Antonio Mixed Media Award presented to Ida’s “China Fina” piece.

SLTV: You have made such an impact in our city. What changes do you hope to see in the San Antonio Fashion Community and how will you help in that change?
IDA: I would like to see more Texas designers come to San Antonio, workshops with them to help our young designers, to encourage and create. Teaming up with other designers to pull the best out of those who are struggling. At the end of the day, I would love to support those designers needing help.

Designs by De La Rosa Designs

SLTV: What can we look forward to this year from you?
IDA: My dream is to show my own line of unique garments, making my own fabrics, whether it is designing, dyeing or printing fabrics. I do not want to be on Project Runway, but I would like to host something like that for my students or students in Texas that want to showcase their talents. You do not want me (and I do not want me) on Project Runway; I have too many kids that I mentor and they do not want to hear “f*** you” the entire time I’m on and I would not want them to hear that. I would want to help all of them with their skills in design. More students are all I ever want for the future and world peace.

SLTV: I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you. You have left me inspired and I am sure all our readers would agree that the San Antonio Fashion Community is lucky to have a talent like yours. 

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Kassandra Rodriguez
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Kassandra is a Trendsetter Member of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative currently learning about online fashion media and content creation through its mentorship opportunity. Originally from McAllen, Texas, Kassandra is a fashionista at heart. She hopes to inspire everyone to dress outside of their comfort zone and use style as a form of self-expression. She's an advocate for plus size fashion, believing that fashion shouldn't discriminate on the basis of pant size. From working Alta Roma Fashion Week, to styling Milan Men's Fashion Week her experiences bring a unique flame to San Antonio.