Richmond, Virginia. She then attended boarding school at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where she met her first husband, Topper Mortimer. Together, they moved to New York City, where Tinsley attended Columbia University and graduated with a degree in art history. As soon as Tinsley landed in New York, her blonde hair, Southern belle charm, and personal branding abilities propelled her into high society. After working at Vogue, she transitioned to a career in public relations. Always an entrepreneur at heart, Tinsley built a successful personal brand that was launched with a line of handbags, Samantha Thavasa by Tinsley Mortimer; a clothing collection, Riccimie by Tinsley Mortimer, which was sold exclusively in Japan; and a tabletop collection. Tinsley then became the beauty ambassador for the iconic French fashion design house of Christian Dior and helped to create a lip gloss coined Tinsley Pink.
Tinsley made her television debut in the season premiere of "Gossip Girl" in 2010, but after she and Topper divorced, she decided to take a sabbatical from the fast-paced and overwhelming lifestyle that she created for herself in New York City. A respite in Palm Beach gave her time to reflect on her accomplishments, and in late 2016, Tinsley decided to move back to New York City and prove that there is more to her than meets the eye.