Cisco Pinedo had always fantasized about starting his own business, but it wasn’t until he found himself at the brink of unemployment that he gave the notion any real thought.
Faced with the reality that the company he’d long worked for was at the verge of shuttering its doors, his 26-year-old self deeply contemplated his next career move. “I didn’t see myself looking for another job,” he says, recalling his reluctance to start back at square one at another firm. So he didn’t.
Instead, he decided to take the plunge and pursue his lifelong dream.
Pinedo boldly set sights on transforming his hobby of handcrafting custom furniture pieces in his garage into a full-scale operation: an ambitious vision that would demand a great deal of time, courage, and support—not to mention money—to fully realize.
He cashed out his 401K, invested the $10,000 he collected after taxes on equipment and, with a whole lot of help from friends and family, launched Cisco Brothers in 1990. “I had a very simple mission: to design and make beautiful products that would improve the quality of life of people… [using methods that would have minimal] impact on the environment,” he says.
Ever since, Pinedo has championed sustainable living through his work, designing products meticulously handmade by local craftsmen using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing techniques. In fact, all of his company’s woods are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Its foam is also free of fire-retardant chemicals, and all its glues and stains are water-based.
The brand took its mission a step further in 2005 with its introduction of “Inside Green,” a unique technology that entails fashioning pieces solely out of all-natural substances including organic latex, cotton, and wool. “Through our journey we have learned to challenge our vendors and our customers to embrace and demand materials that are less harmful to our health and the environment,” Pinedo says.
The designer’s story is rooted in very humble beginnings; in truth, his prolific career can be traced all the way back to a small, local re-upholstery shop in which he worked part-time as a teen. Shockingly, the California resident—who was born on a bucolic swath in central Mexico, in an area devoid of electricity and public transportation—had zero exposure to the modern urban world until he was 13, when he and his family moved to Los Angeles.
Even more surprisingly, Pinedo wholly credits his atypical childhood with his success as a designer, asserting that his experience growing up in a primitive, unspoiled environment spurred his passion for nature, which in turn sparked his desire to craft creations that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also sustainable. “[Living such] different lifestyles… helped me adapt and become flexible. I did not have the normal youth path and influence of pop culture… so my craft became very natural,” he says. “I became a craftsman at such a young age that designing my own product came naturally.”
At the end of the day, Pinedo—who claims he’s inspired by “all walks of life,” including weathered and discarded materials—is driven by a fairly straightforward ambition: “[I want to] connect with people from all cultures and inspire a lifestyle that brings authenticity and comfort to their lives,” he says.
Recently the designer’s home décor line, Cisco Home, opened a new 8,000-square-foot outpost—the brand’s seventh location nationwide—in Costa Mesa.
“Our goal in the new store was to invite our craftsmen, architect friends, and artists to come and make an interactive [place] that [features products made from] re-purposed materials, and to bring a new retail environment to Orange County,” he says. “We pride ourselves in creating interesting products out of rescued and cast-away objects that may otherwise end up in landfills.”
The whimsical, vintage-inspired boutique is adorned with a slew of one-of-a-kind installations, including a luminescent silkscreen wall, an airplane skeleton from the ‘50s, and a carousel from the 18th century. Aside from displaying the brand’s already established array of home decor pieces, the playful space showcases the brand’s new Mid-Century Collection: a line of furnishings inspired by the 1930s modern revolution, featuring clean lines and modern silhouettes.
Asked whether or not he plans to establish any other locales in the near future, the designer remarks that the opening of his stores are, like his products, very organic. “We wait for the right location and partner to do it with,” he explains.
When he’s not coming up with new ways to better the world through furniture design, Pinedo—an avid cook, bicyclist, runner, and hiker—loves traveling to remote places. “Going to space would be fun!” he says, only half-kidding.
Though we doubt he’ll ever make it on board a rocket ship, we’re confident the veritable family man—who has three daughters with his wife, Alba—will manage to check off the more sentimental aims on his bucket list: “To see my girls take over my company and continue its mission… and to stay healthy [and live long enough] to meet my grandkids!”