Luminary founder Cate Luzio has been to India over a dozen times. She knows the culture and embraces the traditions. The women’s collaborative hub she founded is hosting it’s first Diwali event this year. Fifteen South Asian women-owned businesses will be featured in a bazaar on October 17th and the public is invited to come shop.
Cate and Luminary Chief Impact Officer Surabhi Lal engage in a Q&A with host Joya Dass, founder of the LadyDrinks Women’s Networking movement for South Asian women executives about the occasion.
Cate: Joya, what does Diwali mean to South Asians living and working in New York City?
Joya: I was born and raised in Pennsylvania to immigrant parents from Calcutta and Burma. Christmas parties began in earnest December 5th and continued through December 25th. Eight years ago, I founded and began curating a platform for South Asian executive women. Many of the women went on to become close personal friends. With that, Diwali parties began late September and continued until October 27th. It became a wonderful occasion to gather with these friends. As with any holiday, its reason to eat, drink and be merry.
Two of the biggest ways for us living and working in New York City to celebrate Diwali is Megha Desai’s Diwali on the Hudson and Mona Panjwani’s Sparkles Diwali in Jersey City. We get to don our traditional Indian gear and jewelry and bop to our favorite Bollywood songs. I am hoping to introduce occasion 3.
The idea of hosting a bazaar with female business owners has been percolating in my mind for years. When I became a Luminary member November 2018, you and I talked about the biggest occasion to draw South Asian women to the space. It quickly became apparent that I needed to host a LadyDrinks Small Business Diwali Bazaar, not a Christmas Bazaar.
Cate: Surabhi, you are my Chief Impact Officer here at Luminary. You’re also of Indian origin. What does Diwali mean to you?
Surabhi: To me, Diwali means hope for a new year and prosperity in terms of health, work, friends, and yes money. It is the time that I most wish I was in India celebrating with my family there.
Cate: I’ve been to India over a dozen times and so embraced the culture, what will be seeing at the Bazaar on the 17th?
Joya: We will feature a handsome leather suit carry-all for the man in your life that already has everything. He can tote that traditional Indian sherwani jacket to work and then do a Superman change for the Diwali party after. For the ladies, headed to after work Diwali parties, there are Indian inspired t-shirts from Desai Designs, that can be paired with jeans and a black blazer. I personally will be wearing a clever pant suit saree from Dhashi Lifestyle to the Mayor’s Diwali at Gracie Mansion. I can’t tie a regular saree to save my life.
From the food aisle, LadyDrinks Member Sanketa Jain will featuring a tasting of her delicious Masala Gambas, a fusion of Indian/Portuguese/Spanish inspired flavors. Renuka Udasi, founder of Trufills will be offering gourmet chocolate truffles in exotic Indian flavors. Each are handcrafted in small batches. Neha Khullar will be selling copies of her cookbook-come-short-story-collection Palate Passport at the Diwali Bazaar. The book features recipes to international dishes you can make at home.
Jewellery from upcycled sarees. Traditionally ornate and decadent Indian earrings and bangles. Essential oils that are an elixir of organic lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and geranium. The list goes on and on.
Cate: Surabhi, why is it important for Luminary to celebrate and host the Diwali Bazaar?
Surabhi: Diwali is all about light as is Luminary. At Luminary we are lighting up pathways of connection that lead to friendships and new business collaborations. Luminary is a community that celebrates members of all backgrounds and this is but one example of how we do so.
Cate: We love partnering with the LadyDrinks community. What is LadyDrinks and why should women know about it in New York? Imagine a global community of 1800 power South Asian women, who are executives at major corporates or successful entrepreneurs. These are women who can sponsor important introductions. These are women who already understand the cultural hurdles you are up against and can get to the deeper conversations about your professional ambitions quicker. These are women who can support you with judgement of your story. I lead LadyDrinks with a strong set of values, and the women in the movement are a reflection of that.
October 17th is an opportunity to not only buy local, but to support 15 women owned businesses. That is the LadyDrinks Small Business Diwali Bazaar. If you are looking for a way to learn about the Indian occasion of Diwali and enjoy what will be an incredibly fun party, THIS is the place to come and shop!
Cate: What is the 5 year goal? Imagine a network of power South Asian women who have resources, who have powerful networks themselves, who can sponsor introductions that move the needle forward on whatever challenge you are facing. My journey to achieving my childhood dream of becoming a television anchor was a singular journey, with my family not in the picture. I had to install other strong men and women as my support system as I built a career that brought me to New York. Today, I strongly believe in building our own support systems for success, especially if they don’t occur naturally.
My five year goal is to host a LadyDrinks event in every major city of the world, so this network grows in depth and breadth, in resources and talents. I’m hosting LadyDrinks San Diego, Houston, Nashville, and Brussels in the next few months.
Cate: What is Luminary important to you/LadyDrinks? Or what is the benefit of being a part of the Luminary Community? I’m somebody who needs a separation between church and state. Between home and work. For 20 years, I was a business news anchor. I was up and at work at trading floor by 330 am. When I went full time with my women’s initiative, I wanted to get up, get dressed and still ‘go to work’. Luminary is that place for me. I’m usually the first one in at 8am. Since I’m usually in a place of service, it’s important that I am feeding my brain and spirit as well. Luminary is a place where I have gleaned resources such as speakers for my events, invitations to exclusive power women dinners like the Wonder Woman Dinner, and venues to host my events as a result of the relationships I have formed. A strong support network for success is something I firmly believe in. Luminary plugs me into that.
This Diwali, for your gifting needs, Buy female-owned. Buy local! We host our first LADYDRINKS SMALL BUSINESS DIWALI BAZAAR Fifteen female-owned vendors are featured. Come shop! RSVP to attend the Bazaar here.