A beacon of Modernism, color and philanthropy recently opened its doors on a charming stretch of Mission Street in San Marino that is home mostly to Old World-style shops and the well-known neighborhood French restaurant Julienne. It is aptly named Colori.
The shop, owned by Los Angeles philanthropist Lori Samuels, is a colorful shot-in-the-arm for the more subdued neighborhood. Its streamlined white modern interiors feature a rainbow array of color-soaked Italian, French and Scottish leather goods, jewelry and home accessories.
"I love color, and I love giving back, and it was my son who came up with the idea of marrying my two passions — color and philanthropy — into one shop," says Samuels, who sits on the board of the Los Angeles Zoo and has a background in marketing for a number of nonprofits.
After a few trips to Italy, where she fell in love with the quality of desk accessories and other leather goods, she decided to test the L.A. market by holding a trunk show for her friends, while donating 100% of the sales to the Help Group, the largest charity in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems. "I told my friends, 'Don't feel any pressure to buy anything. I only want your feedback,' and the positive feedback was overwhelming."
It was overwhelming enough to open the chic shop. In her first few months of business, Samuels was able to donate upward of 5% of gross sales — "not profits, huge difference," she interjects — to the Help Group, brightening the lives of children and the interiors of the San Gabriel Valley one color at a time.