Suzanne Lerner, Michael Stars Co-founder and President, Speaks With Entrepreneurship Students

Suzanne Lerner, Michael Stars Co-founder and President, Speaks With Entrepreneurship Students

Marlborough students in the Entrepreneurship Capstone and Business Launch classes welcomed Suzanne Lerner, co-founder and president of the clothing brand Michael Stars, to their class on Monday, November 29. 

Hoping to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs, Lerner spoke with Marlborough students about her experience as an entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist.

In her earlier years, Lerner learned from failure, something that she shares is just as important to experience alongside the victories with our students. 

“Failure is going to happen and it could happen more than once. Utilize it as your power going forward,” Lerner says. It is by being true to herself – despite setbacks – that she has been able to persevere and maintain a passion for her business for 35 years.

She also recognizes the importance of finding the right people and mentors to support one another, highlighting the work of SheEO and Sheros as resources to help with both investment and social connection, specifically for women and non-binary folx.

“My mentors came along the way. You don’t know when that person will come along.” For Lerner, some of these mentors were sales representatives who could share the basics of the sales process. 

LinkedIn has also been a valuable tool for Lerner to reach out and connect with people. In fact, it was through a cold message that Lerner sent on LinkedIn that ultimately launched the successful partnership with Michael Stars and ThredUp.

Born and raised in Chicago, Lerner began her activism at a young age, joining the city’s movements for gender and racial equity. Together, with her husband Michael Cohen, they built Michael Stars with core values that intrinsically mirrored their own beliefs: opportunity, equality, and inclusivity.

Nearly 20 years ago, she and Cohen set up the Michael Stars Foundation, supporting critical pathways to racial and gender equality. Recently, the company has launched new initiatives including a voter registration campaign and giving campaign that supports communities hardest hit by Covid-19. 

Under Lerner’s leadership, Michael Stars is a leading business focusing on social impact and gender equity, with women making up 84% of their employees, and 50% being intersectional. Looking forward, Lerner is looking to ensure that the Michael Stars brand is completely sustainable by 2023.

@michaelstarsinc | @michaelstarsvintage

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