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Designer's backstory: From living on a friend's couch to creating a line of sexy resort wear

Designer's backstory: From living on a friend's couch to creating a line of sexy resort wear
Designer Teresa Pinedo launched her ready-to-wear resort line Saïnt Mojavï this summer. (Saïnt Mojavï)

Saïnt Mojavï may have launched this summer, but according to its designer, Teresa Pinedo, the ready-to-wear resort label has been many years in the making.

“It’s a collection that I’ve been designing my whole life,” Pinedo said during a recent interview at a West Hollywood eatery.

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The summer 2018 collection, Desert X, is bohemian in nature and takes its inspiration from Pinedo’s Hawaiian roots. Retailing for $225 to $450, the line features clean, minimalist dresses, caftans, shawls, palazzo pants and maxi skirts in neutral colors and lightweight fabrics such as linen, cotton and silk.

“A lot of these pieces are designs that I’ve always had in my head,” she explained. “Growing up, I would see travelers from all of the world come to Maui. Seeing a lot of the resort fashion really made me want to start a resort line.”

An off-the-shoulder bodysuit from the new line Saïnt Mojavï.
An off-the-shoulder bodysuit from the new line Saïnt Mojavï. (Marc Kayne and Paula Kayne)

However, Pinedo initially wasn’t sure how to get started. Despite sewing her own swimsuits at age 12 and having later been mentored by Canadian fashion designer Maggie Coulombe, Pinedo didn’t have any L.A.-based connections when she first moved to town three years ago.

“I was living on my girlfriend’s couch in Beverly Hills,” the 29-year-old designer said. “I was like, ‘I need to find a job, figure out what to do with my career, get a car, pay rent — all of it.’ ”

Like any ambitious newcomer, Pinedo jumped on LinkedIn and then applied for a position as an office manager and executive assistant to Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of venture capitalist firm B Capital Group and a co-founder of Facebook.

Retailing for $225 to $450, the Saïnt Mojavï line features clean looks in lightweight fabrics.
Retailing for $225 to $450, the Saïnt Mojavï line features clean looks in lightweight fabrics. (Saïnt Mojavï)

She landed the gig, but, all the while, couldn’t shake her original passion. “I would literally have dreams about clothes,” she said. “I would wake up and be like, ‘I need to write this down because I’ll forget.’ ”

After two years of working for Saverin, Pinedo decided to shift focus. “I woke up one day and was like, ‘I’m going to start my own clothing line,’ ” she said. “I was turning 28 and thought, ‘I’m ready.’ So last May, I gave my notice and I started putting things into motion — applying for the trademark, looking for manufacturers, sourcing fabrics, trying to find pattern makers.”

Pinedo said her exposure to business and finance empowered her to launch Saïnt Mojavï, whose name is a nod to “holy water.” “I’m a water sign,” she explained. “I find a lot of inspiration when I’m near water.”

Manufactured in Los Angeles, Saïnt Mojavï is currently available at Fred Segal in West Hollywood and at saintmojavi.com. The brand had a pop-up shop at the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills hotel earlier this year.

“I wanted to design clothes that are easy to travel with and easy to wear,” Pinedo said, pointing out that the pieces easily fit into a carry-on. “Fred Segal ordered 84 pieces from the collection, and all 84 pieces fit into a 4-by-4 box. When I dropped off the order, they were like, ‘This is everything? The whole order is in here?’”

Pinedo wanted pieces that are easy to travel with.
Pinedo wanted pieces that are easy to travel with. (Saïnt Mojavï)

Her favorite piece in the collection is the Mojavï shawl jacket because of its “breathable” bamboo jersey fabric. “It’ll keep you warm in cold weather,” she said, “and keep you cool in hot weather, so it’s very versatile.” She’s also a big fan of the Mojavï kaftan.

As for what’s next, Saïnt Mojavï’s resort 2018 collection, inspired by the Riviera Maya, is scheduled to drop in September. The lookbook for the collection, called the Mayan Escape, was shot in Tulum, Mexico.

While Pinedo will remain focused on designing resort pieces for the near future, she said she plans to eventually grow the brand and its aesthetic.

“I want to eventually have my own atelier,” Pinedo said. “I’m thinking big. I want to leave a footprint here.”

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Saïnt Mojavï's Mojavï Wrap top and Arabian skirt.
Saïnt Mojavï's Mojavï Wrap top and Arabian skirt. (Saïnt Mojavï)
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