Investment banking firm Ohana & Co. on Wednesday hosted its seventh annual Success for Progress Luncheon to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The event was held in Manhattan at Porter House Restaurant, and moderated by Susan Rockefeller of Protect What Is Precious and Kara Ross of Diamonds Unleashed. Event partners include, but were not limited to: Caroline Wang, vice chairman of Alexander Wang, and the firms Santa Maria Novella; Hale Bob; Réard Bathing Suits; Vera Wang and Surrat Beauty.
While the general theme was a look to the future, particularly through the concept of sustainability, many presenters also shared their personal experiences on what they are doing to help make the world a better place.
Some presenters include: David and Zachary Batstone, founders of Not for Sale and Z Shoes; Scott Tannen, cofounder of Boll & Branch, and Francine LeFrak, founder of Same Sky.
After Karine Ohana, a partner at Ohana & Co. opened the event, Susan Rockefeller, a renowned conservationist, spoke about how her platform is helping to raise awareness and empower action for a more harmonious world, whether its enlightened consumerism and transparency on the true cost for the apparel they wear, or facing the realities of climate change.
David Batstone, a venture capitalist, spoke about learning how his favorite restaurant was involved in human trafficking, and through that experience found that it was happening in many major American cities. He told attendees about how Not for Sale helps bring awareness to the issue of human slavery. He also spoke about his other firm Z Shoes — which works in consultation with The Camuto Group and sources rubber and cotton from the Peruvian Amazon — and how profits are brought back to the infrastructure in the Peruvian community so factory workers can be paid a fair wage and be self autonomous.
LeFrak opened her presentation with the question, “What kind of world do you want to live in?” She also spoke about her firm Same Sky, which she formed after working on a documentary about Rwanda. The firm works with jewelry artisans in Rwanda to provide employment for HIV-positive women who are survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, as well as taking the initiative to the U.S. to help employ women who leave prison so they can become self-supporting. “When they get out, they are given $200. They have no job and no education. We work with over 200 women and not one of them has gone back to prison,” she said.
Tannen spoke about sustainability and fast fashion, and about the supply chain in the textiles industry. He also said that after the collapse of Rona Plaza in Bangladesh, his company switched gears and went to work on a traceable supply chain to create cotton blankets, bedding and bath towels.
Richard Emanuel is a serial entrepreneur who is relaunching swimwear brand Réard this spring after over a 30-year absence from the marketplace. The brand is best known for the “bikini,” a two-piece suit that was the first to show a woman’s navel. He also spoke about his new beauty venture called Lumity, an antiaging product using supplements to address nine causes of aging in the body.
Kara Ross spoke about using diamonds to symbolize women’s strength and empowerment, and how the firm will donate a portion of profits to Girl Up, a U.N. foundation program to assist adolescent girls in developing countries.
Other speakers include Shivam Mallick Shah of the Zuckerberg Foundation; Marlo Tablante from H&M and Jostein Solheim from Ben & Jerry’s.