Tina Leser was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1910. She studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the School of Industrial Arts, Philadelphia, and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She traveled all over the world as a child and gained a great love of the textiles she encountered on her visits. This love of exotic fabrics was the basis of her fashion designs, and she imported the finest textiles available for her collections. In 1935, she opened a small dress store in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she sold both traditional textiles as well as her own designs. She started her New York business in 1941, specializing in sportswear inspired by other cultures.