Diwali Feted by Luce Foundation, Lions Club for Orphans in India

New York, N.Y.  Delayed Diwali is just as good as celebrating on the proper date. Especially when this Festival of Lights is combined with its counterparts Chanukah and Christmas. It was a beautiful setting: Tusk retail headquarters at 242 West 26th Street in Manhattan.

Global Advisors Jan Ivarsson and Lynne Marie Paquette, jewelry designer Nicole Zahour, photographer Mangala Weeresakera, Global Advisor Susie De Rafelo, photojournalist Gwendolen Cates.Global Advisors Jan Ivarsson and Lynne Marie Paquette, jewelry designer
Nicole Zahour, photographer Mangala Weerasekera, Global Advisor
Susie De Rafelo, and photojournalist Gwendolen Cates.

It was a good cause; raising money for an orphanage in Bihar, India run by Gyanjyoti Rural Development Welfare Trust.  A long time partner of Orphans International Worldwide and the J. Luce Foundation as seen in this past article here.

12357233_1010433132331724_5007341617994109453_o-1-1024x810Michael McElroy shows a one-of-a-kind purse donated by Tusk to the Silent Auction.

The party was held at the invitation of Tusk founder and head designer, Hiten Manseta, to benefit the orphans and their school. It was a generous gesture for a man whose luxury handbags are popular items in stores such as Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor. The event also featured work by sculptress Janet Rutkowski, MOMA favorite Haresh Lalvani and dancing by Rohan Bhargava and the Rovaco Dance Company.

Lous Brown, Daniela Zahradnikova, Babs Alvani, Jim Luce and Hiten Manseta.Louis Brown, Daniela Zahradnikova, Babs Alvani, Jim Luce and Hiten Manseta.

A successful silent auction held donated items from Swap the Biz, Red Leaf Coaching, Jose Moro Wines, Hands In and Tusk as well as luxury items personally donated by Jessy Moya and Washington Garay.

12362698_1010431825665188_1089691796551608507_o-1-1024x953J. Luce Foundation Global Advisors Lasitha Gunasinghe and Susie De Rafelo.

It was my first time at the store. The three organizers of the event Daniela Zahradnikova, Jessy Moya and Washington Garay had set up everything beautifully.  It would be difficult for the set up to be otherwise with the existing display.  The clean lines and supple leather of each piece resembled a garden of colors.

12356838_1010431785665192_5107714225962904782_o-1-1024x928Global Advisor Patrice Samara, Sculptor Haresh Lalvani and Sculpture Janet Rutkowski.

I was not sure if shoppers looking for a Tusk bag or wallet would be interested in the orphanage as well. I was happily proved wrong. Daniela, who is well known as a professional who has successfully combined art, fashion and philanthropy, had no doubts that Tusk would be an ideal place for the fundraiser.  Garay, as professional designer, was enthusiastic to work with Tusk.

12316589_10204673365347257_7345602580078373667_n-e1450907741286Organizers Washington Garay, Jessy Moya, Global Advisor and Photographer
Mangala Weerasekera, Jenny Kantzian, and Jim Luce.

I am a small businessperson involved in fair trade and I usually zip past named luxury brands of any type. I thought Hiten would look a bit uncomfortable when I mentioned fair trade. Wrong again. He believes in it and ensures fair pay and treatment for workers in his two factories, one in China and one in India. In addition Creative Director Louis Brown and, Daniela in her role of fashion consultant, were supportive of promoting fair employment practices in fashion.

Creative Director Louis Brown, Tusk partner Babs Advani, Tusk founder Hiten Manseta and Fashion & Philanthropy consultant Daniela Zahradnikova. Creative Director Louis Brown, Tusk partner Babs Advani, Tusk founder
Hiten Manseta, and Fashion and Philanthropy consultant Daniela Zahradnikova.

Hiten and his team were very welcoming and did not appear to mind the disruption this event caused during high retail season. His partner, Babs Advani, gave quiet, elegant support to the event. If they did mind they have a fine acting talent in addition to their wonderful design abilities.

Next year perhaps we can impose upon everyone at Tusk a bit closer to Diwali and open the event to readers like you. In fact, send us a note to that effect.

During this other holiday, Christmas, as you are out shopping, keep an eye open for Tusk bags or wallets and remember the brand’s understated but appreciated commitment to charity.

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Susan De Rafelo
Susie De Rafelo is a humanitarian worker who divides her time between the US and overseas. She is the founder of S3 Works sustainability consulting and Hands In fair trade marketplace. Upon joining the non-profit world she earned a B.A. In development and an M.A. Humanitarian Services and has worked with groups in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Thailand.