Christina Minasian models two looks from her Pencey summer collection. Photos courtesy of Pencey

Christina Minasian, the young designer of must-have label Pencey, could be describing herself when talks about the clothes she creates: "pretty and girly but with a toughness too."

Her comfortable yet edgy urban aesthetic has struck a cord with celebrity clients like Leighton Meester, Jessica Alba, Katy Perry, Audrina Partridge, Kristin Cavallari, Beyonce Knowles, and models Jessica Hart and Alessandra Ambrosio.

But as the 32-year-old designer told StyleList: "Being in business is really hard and it gets harder every day."

"You have to stay true to yourself and stay focused and not worry about what the competition is doing," says the Chicago native who has held "almost every kind of job" in the fashion industry. "And you have to listen to what your customers are telling you."

Minasian started out working on "windows and interiors" for Ralph Lauren, doing a little styling on the side for celebrities like Lauren Hill and Molly Sims. After helping her brother run his boutique in Miami, she became a buyer for the Los Angeles store Kitson before founding her own label in 2007.

Her signature designs might combine a floral skirt with studded pockets of the type that Rihanna was recently photographed wearing, or a white deep v-neck dress punched with industrial eyelets.

"For this summer with both regular people and also celebrities, I'm seeing that girls are dressing down," she said. "They are dressing more Bohemian and relaxed, it's about jeans shorts and flowing dresses. With my work I like to mix femininity with stuff that's tough and unpolished."

Minasian describes the Pencey customer as "a little like a downtown girl, she's always tough but has something that's different about her. She's confident and likes to wear things her own way."

She also designs less expensive line called Sauce, which features items like t-shirts, leggings and hoodies. "Sauce is a lot more diverse and casual, it's for the girl who likes to go to the music festivals like Lollapalooza or Coachella," she says.

For fall, the designer says comfort is likely to remain a priority. "People are still going to be gravitating toward a skinny pant and chunky knits," she said. "I think when the weather gets colder we'll see things like leather leggings and blazers."

Pencey is sold at boutiques across the country and internationally, and also through its website,