Fashion Meets Activism
Suzanne Lerner, co-founder and president of lifestyle and clothing brand Michael Stars, is an activist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Her primary focus is on creating economic empowerment for women and girls and supporting organizations that promote gender and racial equality – giving back to communities both domestically and internationally through personal grants, impact investments, and the Michael Stars Foundation.
Born and raised in Chicago, Suzanne’s commitment to social and racial equality began at a young age when she became part of the city’s dynamic movements for gender and racial equality. She and Michael Cohen, her partner in business and in life, co-founded and built Michael Stars in Los Angeles with opportunity, equality, and diversity as core values.
Michael and Suzanne began with a simple purpose: to “make people happy and feel comfortable and confident.” They began a quest to make the perfect tee that would have timeless appeal and outstanding quality. They saw the tee as a canvas for expression and saw the potential for Michael Stars as a company to create opportunity for the Los Angeles community.
Under Suzanne’s leadership, Michael Stars has evolved into a contemporary collection of high quality, beautifully designed and constructed wardrobe essentials, made with sustainable materials in Los Angeles. Her company was an early innovator, locally sourcing and manufacturing Michael Stars clothing, which gave them direct control over garment quality and the ability to ensure fair wages. Suzanne and Michael also established the Michael Stars Foundation more than 15 years ago, which has become a major supporter of organizations that build critical pathways to equality in LA County and around the world.
Today Suzanne inspires new generations of social impact entrepreneurs and is a frequent contributor and speaker on investing, founding, and running socially-conscious and purpose-driven businesses. She serves as a director on several non-profit boards including the ACLU of Southern California, the ERA Coalition, and the Ms. Foundation. She has been honored as a “Woman of Vision” by the Ms. Foundation and was recognized as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews in 2018. She is an active member of both Women Moving Millions and Women’s Donor Network.
Suzanne serves as an advisory board member of Prosperity Catalyst, Children Mending Hearts, and A Call to Men. She also is an avid supporter of the Women at Sundance Initiative and of documentary films.
She resides in Los Angeles, CA with her #feministpup @ms_simba.
Michael Stars was founded in 1986 with one simple premise: to make people happy. Co-founders, Michael Cohen and Suzanne Lerner, set out to create effortless fashion that was timeless and comfortable—meant to go with people wherever they went in life. What started with an iconic, one-sized tee that created a fashion movement, has evolved into a collection of contemporary essentials that includes style-driven silhouettes and accessories; crafted with quality and made to last.
As a women-led and family-owned business, Michael Stars continues to produce the majority of its garments in Los Angeles to ensure quality production and provide fair wages and economic opportunity for the community. The Michael Stars Foundation, established by Michael and Suzanne more than 15 years ago, is a major supporter of grassroots organizations building critical pathways to equality.