How I Made It: Eva Franco

The gig: Chief executive and creative director of the company that bears her name, Eva Franco designs chic and whimsical dresses that have been featured on television shows including "New Girl" and "The Carrie Diaries."

Coming to America: The designer was born in Romania to Hungarian parents. The family fled during a political uprising in the late 1980s and lived in Greece before arriving in Connecticut when Franco was 10. "I very quickly learned that Americans judge you by the way you dress. It was a revelation that what I'm wearing is why" she was treated differently, she said.

Inherited drive: The memory of her parents' perseverance to make a better life for their family is Franco's driving force. Now, as the head of her fashion house with a family-like staff of 17 and $5 million in sales, she relishes the responsibility.

"If my parents wouldn't have done what they did, I wouldn't be here and these people wouldn't have jobs," she said. "At the end of the day, this country is based on the blood, sweat and tears of hardworking people."

If at first you don't succeed: Franco's first foray in creating her own line in New York was cut short when financial backers pulled their support. Down but determined, she moved to Los Angeles. Using her Mid-City home as her studio, Franco kept fabrics under her bed and would cut the patterns herself, have the pieces sewn by others and sell her wares at the Fairfax Flea Market.

"I used to chase UPS trucks with boxes of dresses because they wouldn't stop by at my home," she said. Now the company takes up an entire floor of a building in downtown Los Angeles, and dresses ship across the globe.

Very L.A.: Franco said she is inspired by the immigrant communities in her adopted city and is proud that her garments and staff are a reflection of it.

The garments come to life after going through the minds and hands of her "very L.A." employees: Franco's designs are handed to a Russian pattern maker, who dictates how pieces of fabric will be cut by a British "magician." The pieces are puzzled together by a Guatemalan seamstress and the entire assembly is overseen by a Mexican production manager.

Most of Franco's garments are produced in the United States, with most coming from manufacturers in Los Angeles.

"Here in L.A. you have the infrastructure" to create a line and oversee its progress, she said. "When producing a garment overseas, you never know what mistakes come up until you receive a huge heap of misshapen dresses."

Franco is also very aware of her contribution to the local economy. "Our production money stays in America. We could go to China, but that would go against my values."

Chaos and the future: Fast-fashion and constantly changing trends are not things that Franco worries about too much.

"I'm not trend-obsessed," she said. "I'm all about creating something beautiful and having a woman be complimented. That's the greatest satisfaction."

Her feminine silhouettes are inspired by Franco's trips, whether to another country or simply to the market.

"Every day in this economy owning a business is a risk," Franco said. "I limit my creativity because we might not have the funds" to do a certain design or use an expensive fabric. "But sometimes that leads to another creative outlet."

"The glamorous part is seeing the collection emerge from the utter chaos."

dalina.castellanos@latimes.com