Tamara Horton, Founder of Studio Samuel, is from Troy, a sleepy, one-stoplight town in rural Pennsylvania, and moved to New York City 36 years ago to operate her business from there.
She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Design, Marketing and spent over 13 years working in Operations and Event Planning for Sony Music Entertainment before shifting to dedicate full-time work to Studio Samuel.
Her path to building Studio Samuel is a deeply personal one. Tamara founded Studio Samuel following the international adoption of her son, Samuel. She witnessed how girls born into poverty end up in the all too common pathways of child marriage, trafficking, and child labor, which deny them education and voice. Her goal was to create a ‘teach a woman to fish’ platform that would result in opportunity and safe options, steering girls away from those situations.
In implementing the teach-a-woman-to-fish model, Tamara consciously designed the program not providing tangible items to their program participants. However, because many organizations do provide for basic needs, their students’ families initially expected goods or financial assistance in exchange for letting their girls attend classes.
It was difficult to balance the need to put food on the table today vs. waiting for years for daughters to complete their education. This was a difficult challenge.
When their first graduate received a four-year scholarship to a reputable university, their waitlist grew to 1,600! By working alongside the community and always championing their students, they were able to earn their community’s trust.