Dara Erck (she/her) is the Founder & CEO of SAM+LEO. She spent much of her career as a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Global Health R&D Advocacy. She worked with the foundation to advocate for increased spending for global health R&D as well as to promote innovative financing for product development. She also served as a Senior Advisor to Made By Dyslexia, a nonprofit launched by Richard Branson to bring awareness and support to the 1 out of 10 children affected by dyslexia.
In addition to working in global health, Dara is passionate about government reform and democratization. She has been an election supervisor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation since 1997 in Armenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine.
Dara holds a Master’s of International Finance and Business from Columbia University in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics and Politics from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
What inspired SAM+LEO?
SAM+LEO was founded due to a complete lack of available clean body care products for Gen Z. While shopping for toiletries for my 13-year old son for sleep away camp, I realized that there was a huge gap in the market. I spent a couple of years sitting with the idea and asking friends if they had a similar experience. When the answers were all a resounding “YES,” I decided to further explore the idea.
How would you describe SAM+LEO to a friend?
What are your individual core values?
Inclusivity, positivity, education, sustainability, kindness, and individuality.
How do your friends describe you?
Highly motivated, adventurous, friendly, inclusive, connected, and mindful.
How do you want to be remembered?
I hope that SAM+LEO is remembered as a leader in the ungendered market category, and that the Targets and Walmarts of the world change their aisles to be less gendered. Although SAM+LEO is targeted to Gen-Z, I hope that the brand ages with them, as well as attracts Gen-Alpha.
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