Designer Maria Pinto not slowing down after 25 years in fashion business

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ByJudy Hsu via WLS logo
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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Maria Pinto always knew she wanted to design.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As fashion designer Maria Pinto describes it, she was born in a little Italian village just outside of Chicago's Chinatown. She always knew she wanted to design; it was a natural gift. What she had to learn is navigating the ups and downs of the business of fashion.

This year, Maria Pinto celebrates 25 years in fashion and she is not slowing down. The Chicago designer is launching a brand new collection and a concept store.

"I wanted to create something that had more relevance for 2016 and more accessible," Pinto said. "The idea here is that you come in we have every style and every size. It gives you the opportunity to try them on but then you go to an iPad and order and it's shipped to you within two days."

Maria Pinto's name has long been synonymous with luxury. Her designs chosen over and over again by First Lady Michelle Obama. But just two years later in 2010, Pinto surprised many when she closed her Chicago store. The economy had slowed.

"It was a hard decision but it was absolutely they very best decision I ever made," Pinto said.

She also knew she wouldn't stay away long, making her comeback late last year with her new studio in the West Loop.

"There was a void in the market for something that's really clean, as again we refer to as a blank canvas," Pinto said.

Her new collection meant to mix and match, but what's truly amazing is she launched this entire concept using crowdfunding, raising a quarter of a million dollars on Kickstarter in 45 days. But somehow, like she's done her entire career, she knew she would succeed.

"Part about being an entrepreneur is I think you need to listen to your instincts," Pinto said. "A lot of what you do is very guttural, and you kind of know."

This is now the first of many studios she hopes to open around the country. The pieces start in the $100 - $200 range. They can go up to $500.

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