Although designer Teresa Pinedo is a fairly recent Los Angeles transplant, she's no stranger to dreaming up looks for sun-drenched (and relaxation-inducing) climates. Before founding new L.A.-based label Saïnt Mojavï, Pinedo grew up in Hawaii, where she first dipped her toes into fashion by designing swimwear and reconstructed vintage pieces for herself and her friends.
From there, she spent nearly six years working for Hawaiian fashion designer Maggie Coulombe before jet-setting to the Golden State for the next chapter in her career. After landing in L.A., she got a job in the venture capital world: "Right out the gate I worked for a venture capital tech firm down in Manhattan Beach," Pinedo tells Uncover L.A. "While I was there I learned so much about business, investments, forming a company and the evolution of startups. This experience had a very positive impact on how I approached Saïnt Mojavï from a business perspective."
She launched Saïnt Mojavï in 2018 and the brand is now in its third collection. For summer, Pinedo channeled the spirit of Matevilya (for whom the range is also named), the mythical god believed to be the creator of the earth by the Mojave tribe. Priced from $250 to $485, the 12-piece range is comprised of vacation-ready dresses, blouses, and breezy bottoms in desert-inspired hues: Think shoulder-baring balloon-sleeved dresses in lavender, sand, or pink gingham prints; a belted white eyelet dress in the same silhouette that's very wedding-appropriate; and a long-sleeved washed silk dress with a thigh-high side slit (offering the perfect balance of conservative and sexy); to name just a few.
Here, we sat down with Pinedo to learn more about her career journey, what she loves about being an Angeleno, the South American destination she's eyeing for her next stylish getaway, and her favorite road trip outside of L.A. Read on below, then restock your summer wardrobe and shop her label's newest collection right here.
How has your design aesthetic changed since you started designing as a teen?
As I'm about to turn 30 and look back on the archives of my designs over the years, I wouldn't say that my design aesthetic has necessarily changed, but moreso evolved to what it is today.
I will say that as a teen I was much more carefree with my designs. I would design without the thought or care of future sales, demand, return on investment — in essence, I was designing for myself and my friends because it was fun and cool to tear up vintage clothes from a thrift store and re-invent it. At that time I was focused primarily on swimwear, because I grew up in Hawaii where I lived in bikinis!
Today, with managing the brand and fulfilling orders, I am much more thoughtful with my designs. I design each piece with a clear vision of who my shoppers and clients are that will wear the brand. I think about what they want and what they would buy. I have to consider so many elements, how it will fit each body, shape, height and age range: How will the fabric feel on the skin, the price points, marketing the brand, and forecasting trends for 12 months out. There is an entirely new element of consumer awareness now in my designs, which gives the brand a whole new layer of complexity, which I love!
When did you move to L.A., and what was that experience like? How has the city influenced your work?
I moved to L.A. in January 2015, straight from Maui, Hawaii. I've never lived anywhere else and moving away from my family was a really big deal for me. I have heard horror stories from people about their experiences in L.A., which actually scared me, but in the end made me more excited to conquer new horizons. Luckily, I had great friends that were like family to me who made my transition the most positive experience I could have imagined!
There are so many things I love about this city: The food, culture, art scene, and passion for fashion. But the one thing I love most about the city is that everyone I've been fortunate enough to spend some time with, are true "hustlers" for lack of a better word. They're all working so hard on their goals, dreams and careers. The hustle is truly inspiring, and has had a big influence on me, especially the female entrepreneurs scene out here! I recently hosted a dinner event and everyone that was sitting at our table were all female entrepreneurs working so hard on their careers, helping each other succeed. It was such a beautiful thing to see.
What inspired your latest Matevilya collection?
The summer 2019 Matevilya collection is a nostalgic capstone inspired by the earth's natural tones; clay, turquoise, lilac, and marigold hues. The hand-embroidered organic cotton eyelets, sand-washed silks, and delicate chiffon fabrics create the aesthetic of the Matevilya collection [which was inspired by the] mythical god that the [Native American] Mojave tribe believed to be the creator of the earth. This collection is a surreal reflection inspired by Mother Nature which transpired through each design. There is inspiration all around us and in everything that we do on a daily basis, but it takes something within us to see it and become inspired to create.
Given that your brand is rooted in resortwear, what destinations are you personally eyeing for your next vacay?
Cartagena, Colombia! I have been eyeing this place for so long and have been so inspired by this little historical town. I have designed a whole resort collection which is inspired by the colorful streets and colonial architecture of Cartagena! We [recently shot] our 2020 collection in the city in early June. I can't wait until this collection launches. It's going to be the best one yet, so stay tuned!
As far as local getaways, what's one of your favorite summer road trip-ready spots?
I would have to say La Quinta in Palm Springs. We love going out there because it's a quick trip and it never disappoints. I love doing a beautiful hike there to a hidden waterfall in the middle of the desert. I call it my hidden oasis. There is actually a nice flow of water at certain times of the year so I try to make it a point to check it out when we're in town. I would share the location but then it wouldn't be hidden anymore!
What else is coming down the pipeline for the brand?
We are currently finishing up our 2020 collection which I'm super excited about. There are a few exciting things in the pipeline but you'll have to stay tuned and follow the brand to find out!