Lori Samuels

Business leadership for good

From class president to social entrepreneur, Lori Samuels '86 drives change for the better

During her very first week at Kellogg, Lori Samuels witnessed the school's legendary teamwork firsthand. A fellow student was seriously injured in a cycling accident. Though the school year had just begun, and friendships had yet to gel, the entire class rallied so the injured student didn't miss a beat; they surrounded him with support so he could stay current with his school work in hopes of being able to graduate on time. He did.

This compassionate camaraderie epitomizes Kellogg leadership for Samuels: "Business school doesn't immediately call to mind words like ‘collaborative' and ‘kind,'" she says with a laugh, "yet, Kellogg attracts this type of student and fosters this culture."

As class president, Samuels proactively elicited the best ideas from her peers, and with them, launched new endeavors such as an annual student yearbook and student government campaign finance guidelines.

Kellogg's legacy of spirited teamwork has shaped Samuels' career at every turn. At her first job after graduate school, she bristled at a lone wolf, competitive environment, immediately left and landed a product management position at Ralston-Purina where the community more closely reflected her Kellogg experience. From there, she went on to Colgate-Palmolive before taking time to raise her three children and share her marketing expertise as a volunteer and consultant to nonprofit organizations.

A vacation in Venice unexpectedly sparked a new business venture. Samuels discovered silver jewelry made in the Dolomite region of northern Italy. "Everyone back home wanted it," she recalls. "I searched for someone to sell the pieces in the States." Ultimately, that "someone" turned out to be Samuels, herself.

Launching brick and mortar retail was outside of her wheelhouse, but "I knew from my Kellogg experience that oftentimes you know enough to know that you don't know enough, and when it came to the world of retail, I certainly didn't know enough." So she sought out people with the knowledge, experience and expertise who did. Giving back was a priority for her, and Samuels chose to donate profits to an organization dedicated to autism research and education.

As her business grew, she began adding more accessories, and noticed a dearth of highquality, vibrantly-colored leather goods. So, she decided to start One Odd Bird, a leather line designed to fill that void in the market. As that business began to grow and take up most of her time, Samuels decided to close her store and focus solely on her new label — selling online and through other retailers.

Though Samuels' career has evolved, the lessons from that first week at Kellogg remain constant: "I surround myself with smart, collaborative people. I work to understand and meet the needs of my market, and successes power something positive."

2015-16 Donors

  • The MBA that I received at Kellogg was life-changing and I want to help fund projects and programs to help the next generation of Kellogg students.
    – Jenny Lee '01

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  • My success is in large part due to the launch pad of Kellogg. I feel a responsibility to create the same opportunity for others.
    – Bruce Spohler '86

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  • Kellogg is achieving a bold and strategic vision. Students, faculty and leadership are accomplishing extraordinary things, and I'm excited to be a part of that.
    – Edith Cooper '86

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  • For us, it's more about paying forward than giving back. We feel proud to invest in Kellogg's future; enabling it to claim its place among the world's top business schools.
    – Gary '89 and Catherine Briggs '94

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  • We give to support Kellogg Scholarships. I believe that diversity is the way to attract students of the highest caliber and character. Supporting Kellogg's financial aid initiatives make this happen.
    – Lori Samuels '86

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  • We have gained a lot of value through our experiences at the Center for Family Enterprise, and know other families have as well. We think it's important to continue that work.
    – Drew Everett '08/'16

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