by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, October 2011
Lisa Samuel wanted to change her world. At 19, the Santa Fe native found herself divorced and a mother of two. “I knew I needed to do something to make my life work,” she says. “And I knew I couldn’t do it here.”
With dreams of designing, Samuel packed up her small children and moved to San Diego, where she lived on welfare for two years while studying architecture and construction at The American College. When she finished, she moved back to Santa Fe and tried to find a job with an architect. “But it was the late ’70s,” she says. “I was young and I was a woman. I couldn’t get an architect to hire me.”
Samuel made her living for years working for civil and mechanical engineers, but the job never satisfied her; she longed for something more creative. She found some release in raising her by then three children. When they were grown, she went back to school at Santa Fe Community College, this time studying interior design. Even then, in her 40s, her path wasn’t smooth. In order to maintain scholarship money, she had to go to school full-time, and she did that while continuing to work full-time and take care of her second husband, who had gone legally blind (they’ve since divorced). Somehow, in the same breath, she started her own business, the Samuel Design Group.