Friends and Entrepreneurs: How 3 Latinas are Impacting the Real Estate Industry

Rocío Hermosillo, Mariana Hernandez, and Maria Rocha are the co-founders of Ellla Co. a Real Estate company in Iowa.

Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Rocío Hermosillo, 30, Mariana Hernandez, 31, and Maria Rocha, 29, never imagined that one day they would become business owners. Before they met and launched Ellla Co. in May of 2022, these three strong Latinas were just peers in the real estate business. That all changed once they met and decided to create something that was a part of each of them.

Mariana Hernandez moved to the United States from Ecatepec, México with her family when she was 2 years old. She attended Harding Middle School and graduated from North High School in 2009. “I did not pursue the college route and it was something that I can honestly say just wasn’t for me,” Hernandez explains. She did not know what she wanted to do with her life, but one thing was for sure, being an immigrant without legal status meant she had very few professional opportunities after high school.

Coming from a family of five siblings, Hernandez remembers her parents working hard to provide for them. She started doing odd jobs at the age of 14 to contribute to the family’s income. “I picked up work wherever I could to make my own money and alleviate that stress for my parents. I will always be grateful for the work ethic they instilled in me,” says Hernandez.


Learning that college was not something she could do given the uncertainty of her legal status, Hernandez realized from an early age that she would have to work harder than those with citizenship to achieve her dreams and goals. “Little did I know that I had to work 4 times harder at what I wanted to accomplish because of my status and being a woman,” Hernandez remembers.

Mariana Hernandez

A high school class where she learned about investments and passive income piqued her interest in real estate, but she was not yet ready to pursue a career in the industry. After graduating high school, Hernandez continued working any job she’d find that would hire young people. In 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was put into effect across the country and finally opened some doors of opportunity for her. DACA is the deportation deferral program created by President Obama’s administration that provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to young undocumented immigrants, also known as DREAMers, who were brought to the United States as children. The program began taking applications on August 15, 2012, and Hernandez was among the initial applicants. “When DACA was born almost 10 years ago, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and told myself it’s time to start doing the things I want for a better future for my family while I have this temporary relief. Opportunities were and continue to be a little different.” 

DACA changed her life and Hernandez bought her own home at the age of 25. The purchase gave her the confidence to pursue a career in real estate because with no savings and a new baby to support, she was not satisfied working for someone else.  She decided to take a risk and sign up for classes to become a licensed agent. After months of studying and with the support of her family and her partner, Hernandez passed the licensing exams and was ready to start making a name for herself in real estate. “Through this journey, I discovered my why; To break generational chains to make way for better legacies,” she says with pride.


Hernandez worked in real estate for five years before getting together with Rocío Hermosillo and Maria Rocha to forge a new path in real estate as part of their joint venture.

“I met Maria at the beginning, and she taught me everything I know about how to be an above-average agent. I have always cheered Rocío on even before I met her through the things she was doing in the community and in soccer, but it wasn’t until I got licensed that I met Rocío in the industry as well,” she shares about meeting the other co-founders of their company, Ellla Co. w/ Keller Williams Greater Des Moines.

Like Hernandez, Maria Rocha comes from a large family. Only Rocha’s family is twice as big! “I come from a family of 10 – yes 10 siblings! I have 7 brothers and 2 sisters, I am the second youngest,” she shares.


Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, her family moved to Des Moines when she was 3 years old. Rocha graduated from Lincoln High School in 2011 and started attending college, but soon she realized college was not the right fit for her. “I started at DMAAC. College didn’t go so well for me; I ended up dropping out and Googling a career where I could help people and make good money,” recalls Rocha. So began her search for a new career.

“The last grade my parents completed was the 3rd grade, and my older siblings didn’t go to college, so Google was my only resource at that time,” she says about how she went about looking for something she would enjoy doing as a career. “It was hard for me to know and understand what I had a passion for if I didn’t know what questions to ask or who to go to.”

Maria Rocha

While working for a company where she started from the bottom and worked her way up to a corporate office position, she continued to search for a job that would make her happy. During her search, she came across information about a career as a real estate agent. Rocha realized this was something she could see herself doing for the rest of her life. It combined her passion for helping others and her desire to have her own business. “I have now been in real estate a little over 5 years. I got licensed at the end of 2016 and since then have been able to help more than 200 families buy or sell real estate.”

Being a real estate agent is something she greatly enjoys. “Coming from a big family and watching my parents work two jobs to provide us with a better life, I knew I needed to pivot and look at other options that made not only financial sense but helped me enjoy my job more. That is exactly what I love about real estate,” Rocha explains. She adds that this particular job allows her to meet great people and she prides herself in treating clients like family. “Seventy percent of my business is with the Latino community, and I treat them as if they were my own family,” Rocha says with great emotion. “They all remind me of when my parents bought a home. They had nothing explained to them, they just signed on the dotted line, and they knew at the end of all the signing they would receive a home.”


Before launching Ellla Co., Rocha knew and admired Rocío Hermosillo for fifteen years. The two women used to play soccer and attended catechism classes together. “I’ve always looked up to her and was very excited when she first reached out to me that she was interested in doing real estate,” Rocha shares about her ongoing friendship with Rocío Hermosillo, co-founder.  “We’ve been working alongside each other ever since.”

Rocha met Hernandez when she got her real estate license. “[Hernandez] had just purchased her first home and I thought she was a badass,” Rocha remembers with a laugh and a touch of admiration. “She bought a home on her own at a young age and also knew how to ride a motorcycle. She’s fearless! I connected with her and learned she was getting her real estate license as well.”

Rocío Hermosillo, the other co-founder of Ellla Co., and their current Sales Director, did not consider real estate as a career after getting her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance from Grand View University. “Real estate was not something I had considered as a career or a business. I was set on becoming an HR executive in the corporate world. It changed really quickly when I wanted more from life and felt unfulfilled,” explains Hermosillo.

Hermosillo was born in El Paso, Texas. “My parents, sisters, and brother were born in Aldama, Chihuahua, Mexico. I was too little to remember but we lived in a small rancho called El Porvenir for a few years before my parents made the tough decision to come to the United States for a better quality of life.” Looking for job opportunities, her parents made their way up north to Des Moines more than 20 years ago, where Hermosillo grew up and got an education. “This was all possible because of the risks and sacrifices my parents made in conjunction with the community we had around us who believed in me and my family,” Hermosillo says with much gratitude. “It is because of this that I deeply believe in giving back, paying it forward, and making it better for those who come after me.”

Rocío Hermosillo

Hermosillo became a licensed real estate agent in the spring of 2019, and although it was not her intended plan after college, it turned out to be one of the best choices she’s made. “Real estate has not only changed my life, but also my family’s. It has allowed me to do things I never imagined I would do or have the capability to do for others. Ultimately, real-life connections and helping others continue to achieve their biggest goals in life is what I like most.”

Hermosillo knew Rocha for many years. It felt natural to align their talents to start Ellla Co. “Maria and I met probably when we were babies since our families have known each other since we arrived in Des Moines, but my memory only allows me to remember us playing soccer together,” recalls Hermosillo. She met Hernandez several years later when she got into real estate. The connection between the two women was instant and they quickly became friends. “I ask her all the time where she’s been my whole life because it felt like a friend I had known for so many years even though we had just met,” Hermosillo gushes about how much she treasures the new friendship.

The bond born between these three women was instant and deep. From their friendship came the idea of starting a business together. It was a decision they did not need to think much about. They had similar visions for the company and dove head-first into it. “We found we aligned very well in terms of our values, what we wanted in our business, and how we wanted to make it different. It was after countless phone calls, meetings, continuous late nights, and a couple of months, that we decided we would join forces and Ellla Co. was created,” says Hermosillo. “It was a no-brainer that together we make a powerhouse with each one having different skillsets, connections, and strengths. We also fulfill each other’s weaknesses and simply just help and care for each other,” adds Hernandez.

The name Ellla Co. was an easy decision for the three of them. “Ella in Spanish means her or she, so it resonated with me when I came across it on social media,” shares Rocha. “There was a class called “Ella” which consisted of powerful real estate Latina leaders and I turned and looked at Mariana and was like, I know what our name is.”


The three co-founders of Ellla Co. truly care about their clients. “We care, we do things right the first time, and educate our clients. We pride ourselves on that. When we work with clients we listen to understand, not just listen. We give them our professional opinion, show them all the options and at the end of the day, the client decides what’s best for them,” shares Rocha about what makes Ellla Co. the best choice for those who are looking to buy or sell their home. “Personally speaking, I try not to compare myself to the “competition” because there is only one Mariana, Rocío, and Maria,” Hernandez explains emphasizing how each of the three co-founders is unique in their own way. “We surround ourselves with like-minded people and have created a culture where there is abundance for everyone! If you ask me why I am so proud of Ellla Co. it’s that we truly CARE and do what is right first. Those that we get the opportunity to help feel that way about us, too.” 

Ellla Co. strives to add value to those looking for specialized services when looking to buy or sell a home. “If you ask us if it makes sense to sell, sometimes the answer will be no. It all truly depends on the person’s goals.  También hablamos español y todos de nuestro equipo somos bilingüe. We are also real estate coaches so if you are an agent or want to become an agent, we may be able to help you, too!” Hermosillo says.

A few years ago, careers in real estate were not on the minds of Hernandez, Rocha, and Hermosillo, but life takes many turns and detours and somehow destiny brought these three women together. Their deep and fast friendship born a business in a field they love, where they get to serve their community and impact others through their work. Ellla Co. might be the new kid on the block in the real estate industry, but the business will surely grow because it is run by strong, smart, caring, and dedicated Latinas with a passion for helping families like their own buy and sell homes.

Follow Ellla Co. on Facebook or visit their website at to see their listings and announcements for upcoming real estate events and trainings.

You can also reach Ellla Co. at (515) 417-1059. Their office is located at 4001 Westown Parkway in Des Moines, IA. 

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