Chicago bridal gown designer pivots to masks during pandemic

Chicago's Very Own

Due to lack of bridal business, a Chicago designer turned to masks to help make money and increase donations during the pandemic.

Since 2000 Elda De La Rosa has been adorning brides and debutantes with her couture designs.

“My debutante dresses were hits, I grew a clientele of debutantes and mother of the bride,” she said.

Located in Chicago’s Gold Coast, De La Rosa designs have long been a hit on Chicago’s social scene. In 2010, she won a spot as a top 10 finalist in the Oscar’s design competition. But as she geared up for 2020’s busy season everything suddenly changed.

“Before we knew it, there we were on the stay at home and I had to learn how to stay alive,” she said.

De La Rosa, who is a single mother, says she immediately turned to the now competitive field of mask making to stay afloat.

“I didn’t realize the big business that was in mask making, but at the same time I felt that because it was a pandemic, I didn’t feel so comfortable profiting big from a pandemic,” she said.

Forced to let go of her staff, De La Rosa sews an average of 400 masks per week. Until recently, she donated a mask for every single mask she made.

“I always tell my clients, give it to a cashier, give it to a healthcare worker,” De La Rosa said.

As labor intensive as mask making can be, the artist and designer in De La Rosa hasn’t been tempered.

“I put a lot of heart into them not just literally I love what i do and i couldn’t just do a simple mask, they are artistically created and we cut out the little pieces and make them what they are,” she said.

Her best seller is the City of Chicago’s flag mask, made with hearts in place of the stars.

She named it after the City Clerk Anna Valencia who purchased a large amount for city hall workers.

De La Rosa said the pandemic has forced her to rethink her business strategy, but it also allowed her to spread her artistic wings.

“I feel like i know how to do a mask or a trend for a season and put it on a mannequin and say this is my mask,” De La Rosa said.

Her designer masks sell for around $22 and she will continue to donate one mask per order.

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