Kickstarter style: Maria Pinto, first lady's former dress designer, stitches together a comeback


(CBS News) In 2008, Maria Pinto was the mastermind behind Michelle Obama's effortless look on the night her husband became a presidential nominee. Obama wore a purple sheath. For Pinto, it was an instant bump in sales.

But it was a red dress, worn on her first visit to the White House after the election, that put Pinto in demand.

Pinto has dressed Oprah Winfrey, Marsha Gay Harden, Brooke Shields, among others.

However, in 2010, as the economy started to unravel, so did her company.

"It was a combustion of things happening, so I realized it was best to take a break," she said.

New York Magazine fashion editor Robin Givhan said that Pinto faced the same troubles as many others in the industry.

"You aren't going to build a fashion company when you are going to sell to celebrities and high-profile consumers alone," she said. "I mean, the reality is that most of the clothes that we see on celebrities have not been, in fact, purchased."

Now Pinto is back, reinventing herself. She designed 13 ready-to-wear pieces and six weeks ago put them on the website Kickstarter, hoping to raise $250,000 for her new company, and she got $271,000.

Even with the money, Pinto is proceeding cautiously. She is working out of her Chicago loft and aiming for a different tier of shopper.

She told CBS News' Vinita Nair that she plans to keep the cost of her dresses between $250 and $350. Five years ago, the average price of her dresses was $900 and up.

In the next three months, Pinto plans to use the Kickstarter money to sell her line across the country.

Pinto said that at the height of her success she never could have imagined going under, but now she said she never could have designed a better journey back.

"Do I want to make something great out of it or focus on the past and be disappointed? I don't feel disappointed at all; it's the happiest I've ever been."

For Vinita Nair's full report, watch the video in the player above.