Maria Pinto Grows
By 40 Percent
Could Consider Private Equity
Investment In The Future
By Richard Collings
Maria Pinto, the private Chicago-based fashion business, which was made famous by the simple chic sheaths that adorned First Lady Michelle Obama on the campaign trail last year, has seen its revenues jump by 40 percent this year, designer Maria Pinto said.
Although the company’s revenues are below $10 million, it is thriving through the downturn thanks to support from the likes of Mrs. Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Marcia Gay Harden.
To date, the company has been funded by private individual investors, but Pinto said the company could consider taking on additional investment such as private equity in the future, though she was unsure of the timing. “Let’s get through 2010 first,” Pinto said, but also said her company is at "the tipping point."
Pinto first opened the doors to her label in 1991, but then temporarily closed it down due to embezzlement issues in 2002 and then reopened two years later in 2004, she said.
When it relaunched, it was able to lure back previous clients.
Although the company has been able to create brand awareness by fulfilling the needs of the likes of Mrs. Obama, it was built on a solid foundation, including the know-how Pinto gained by working for legendary designer Geoffrey Beene, and her focus on fabric selection and fit.
Maria Pinto opened her first boutique last fall and now is exploring opening more such stores, as well as entertaining e-commerce possibilities, she said.
The line is currently carried by retailers such as Barneys New York and
The label may also launch a diffusion line focused on more casual clothing, which would serve a different need, she explained.
Though the company’s roots are in providing garments for special occasions, it has branched out, offering professional women clothes that are appropriate for the office, yet feminine, with an emphasis on fit and comfort.
For spring 2010, Pinto is offering a sharply tailored pant suit, for example, and hemlines on smart-looking skirts that go below the knee, although there is a mixture of flirty party dresses and evening gowns to choose from as well.
Maria Pinto currently produces most of her clothing in a factory she operates in
Pinto admitted that manufacturing in the
As a result of Pinto’s design sensibility, the quality of her company’s clothing, and all the recognition, her company is “in a very good place.”
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