WEST BURBANK — A Bloomingdale's sales assistant who made children's clothes for her granddaughter in her spare time is now set to see her designs featured at the upscale store where she works.
The development is a dramatic reversal of fortunes for Linda Legorreta, 43, who said she didn't know where the next meal was coming from just 18 months ago.
It was low point for someone who had owned two women's clothing stores with 16 employees. But her monthly lease exposed her business to a decision to tear down the shopping center.
"There was nothing I could do. It was a bad economy, which had been affecting my sales anyway, and I was eating up my savings," she said.
Legorreta had gone through a difficult divorce and she lost her home in Chino Hills due to foreclosure in January 2009.
"It got to the point where my neighbors were buying my groceries," she said. "I thought I'd find a job, but it took eight months until I finally got a job at Bloomingdale's in Costa Mesa."
Although her two older children, Eric and Kristine, were in their 20s and no longer lived at home, she was still raising her 9-year-old son Chase.
Gradually, Legorreta started to rebuild her life.
She met Burbank resident John McCarroll online and began dating again. She requested a transfer to the Sherman Oaks Bloomingdale's, and she and her son moved in with McCarroll in March last year.
Legorreta had always enjoyed customizing and making her own clothes — she even made her own prom dress — and with McCarroll's encouragement, she decided to make a birthday outfit for her granddaughter, London Coplin, who was about to turn 1.
Her creations — a white and pink tutu decorated with ribbons, a shirt with "Birthday Girl" spelled out in sequins, and a hat with a pompom — were a hit.
"I got 10 orders from that party," Legorreta said. "I thought: 'Wow! Maybe I have something here.'"
Legorreta showed her designs to a Bloomingdale's manager, who suggested she make a whole collection for both boys and girls aged between 1 and 6. They'd be used for a trial run at the store, known as a "trunk show."
Legorreta then hired a manufacturer to make the clothes using her patterns.
"I have zero experience, so I taught myself patterns and things like that over the Internet," she said. "I named the collection 'Chase n' London' after my son and my granddaughter who inspired me in the first place."
If sales are strong enough during the trunk show, Bloomingdale's may decide to manufacture the clothes and roll them out to all its stores. A store representative could not be reached for comment.
The Chase n' London collection will be on sale in Bloomingdale's in Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks on July 15 through 16, 17.
With the prospect looming, Legorreta said she would love to be a full-time designer.
"I'm very excited," she said. "I can't believe this is happening. So many doors were slammed in my face, but now bigger doors are opening."