• April 14, 2021
 The Wondering Latina: Meet Ilene Serna – El Paso Chihuahuas designer behind the Diamond

Photo courtesy Jorge Salgado | EP Chihuahuas

The Wondering Latina: Meet Ilene Serna – El Paso Chihuahuas designer behind the Diamond

Last weekend I was scrolling twitter, when I was stopped dead in my social media tracks, what is this?!

I instantly recognized the white rose, the signature letter “S” and the unmistakable purple coloring…no, it can’t be, do my eyes deceive me…a SELENA TRIBUTE JERSEY from the El Paso Chihuahuas!

Like any devoted fan I immediately began to investigate, who, what, when, how!?

I was super stoked to find out that the iconic jersey was designed by one of our very own, a young, talented designer named Ilene Serna, who is the Creative Services and Digital Marketing Coordinator for the El Paso Chihuahuas.

Serna – who is a huge Selena fan – began working on this project a year ago. She had created a couple of different concepts for the tribute night and the winning design was what fans saw on game night. I asked her how it felt to hold the jersey after almost a year of anticipation, she said when the moment came she was super excited but also couldn’t wait to see El Paso’s reaction. Well the verdict is in, we LOVED it.

photo contributed: designer Ilene Serna, her original sketches

The entire design is filled with hidden gems. To begin with, she worked intensely on perfecting Selena’s signature “S” at the end of Chihuahuas and recreating the rest of the lettering to match, she wanted to make sure she got it just right.

The next big task was finding the exact shade of purple that Selena often wore, then there was the detail of how the rose or como la flor would lay out across the front of the jersey. One of my favorite elements was the arm patch, which has Chico swinging the rose, instead of his usual bat.

The overall jersey was a nod to her iconic bustier fashion style.

Fun fact, Ilene told me she had once read in a memoir that one of Selena’s most notable bustiers was actually missing rhinestones because she had run out, so Serna made sure to have one of the sleeves replicate the “missing” beadwork as a little piece of trivia.

Did the Quintanilla family know? I asked the same thing.

It turns out Suzette Quintanilla, sister to La Reina/Queen of Tejano, did catch wind of it and made a personal phone call, giving her blessing to the organization. 

Serna told me they received so many letters of support from fans and tons of request to order a jersey.  Sadly, as of right now there aren’t any plans to make more.

The limited edition jersey was signed by the team and auctioned off, with all the proceeds benefiting local charities issued through the El Paso Chihuahuas Foundation.

photo contributed: Ilene Serna a.k.a. Ilene Sidewayz, celebrating her Whata-birthday at work

This isn’t the first time Ilene’s design has been a home run, earlier this year she wowed fans with her Game of Thrones jersey edition.

When she is not coming up with super dope artwork for the Chihuahuas organization, she is working on her own personal graphic designs under her artistic moniker, “Ilene Sidewayz” which she created as a way to reclaim her name.

As a child she always heard the typical jokes about her name, then later an accident left her with permanent facial nerve damage, resulting in a type of sideway smile; just like Frida Kahlo, she turned her pain into art, and made it her own signature style.

As an artist, Ilene Sidewayz – with the support of her family and her muse and partner Crystal – just opened up an Etsy store, Sidewayz Theory, where she shares her love of all things El Paso, including her best selling cap, which features the Franklin Mountains complete with “The Star.”

I myself had tried to buy this cap a few weeks ago and I had no idea this was created by the same artist who designed the Selena tribute jersey! Needless to say, I’m a fan.

El Paso is lucky to have so many young artist putting their stamp on the city. I can’t wait to see what fotos y recuerdos Ilene Sidewayz creates for us next!

*Full disclosure, I listened to all my favorite Selena playlists while writing this story…

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Keep calm and baila esta cumbia 💃🏻

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Yol-Itzma Aguirre

A little about me, I am a proud El Paso, TX native. I have built my career working in national media and both – national and Texas – politics. Most recently, I was selected as one of only a handful of Latina writers (chosen from across the nation) to participate in a storytellers cohort as part of the Yale School of Journalism. I love traveling throughout Texas, finding those interesting stories that are hidden in everyday conversation. I write about people, pop culture, politics and my Texas Latina life; proudly walking through the world with El Paso “nopal-colored glasses” on.

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