Sandy Lerner: Featured Speaker for Valley Health Business at the Bloom
In 1984, Sandy Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems with Leonard Bosack. While employed at Stanford University, the pair worked with others at Stanford and other universities and laboratories to create a network of networks which was the technical foundation of today’s Internet. The routers used to link the diverse computer systems revolutionized the computer communications industry, leading to the technology which enabled the world-wide web and follow-on service providers such as AOL and Google. After leaving Cisco in 1990, Sandy found other passions to explore. In 1992, she purchased and refurbished the Chawton House, a 300-acre manor house and farm dating back to the 1580s in Hampshire, England. Formerly the estate of Jane Austen’s brother, the property is now Chawton House Library and the Centre for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing. Founding Urban Decay in 1995, Lerner sought to provide lipstick and nail polish in a variety of alternative shades beyond traditional pinks and reds. Urban Decay products reached instant success; and, Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) acquired the brand in 2000. More recently it sold to L’Oreal, and that company still touts that no product has ever been tested on animals, a founding principle set by Lerner.
Sandy Lerner’s lifelong passion for farming led to her purchase of Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, Virginia in 1996. Fully restored, the farm provides the perfect acreage, location and layout for a sustainable and profit-driven operation. Today, the farm’s mission is to preserve genetically viable heritage variety crops and herds of rare breeds of livestock through humane and sustainable farming practices. Lerner’s choice of rare and endangered heritage breeds is an extension of her quest to help rebuild the local American agricultural infrastructure. She is now turning her attention to the expansion of her Gentle Harvest stores: providing a forum for local farms to sell their products; a market for local residents; and locally grown, healthy fast food for those wanting the drive-thru meal experience. The first store launched in fall 2016, with a Winchester store set to open in 2017.