If you see someone carrying your bag, there’s a level of excitement that’s hard to explain. It’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

Garry Thaniel '04

Garry Thaniel ’04 dreamed of working at Foot Locker when he was a kid. “I always wanted that striped shirt!” he says with a chuckle.

What eventually landed the 34-year-old the plum CEO spot at ONA, a Manhattan-based purveyor of fine bags for the creative set, was an auspicious introduction at just the right time.

“Meeting Jane changed everything,” Thaniel says. “That moment shifted my direction.”

Jane Taylor Elfers ’83, then CEO of Lord & Taylor, connected Thaniel to an internship that morphed into his first job after Bucknell. Thaniel was always interested in style (he co-founded Bucknell’s student fashion club, Culture Couture), so he worked hard and rushed up the corporate ladder until the time was right to pursue another dream: a Harvard MBA. Even before he was accepted to the program, Thaniel quit his great job at Lord & Taylor.

Thaniel, who served on the Bucknell University Alumni Board of Directors from 2008 to 2015, earned his MBA in 2009 and assumed ONA’s top spot in November. He delights in ONA bags. An amateur photographer, he enjoys meeting professional photographers who swear by the compartmentalized organization of ONA’s bags, which is especially conducive to protecting delicate camera gear in a sophisticated shell.

“If you see someone carrying your bag, there’s a level of excitement that’s hard to explain,” he says. “It’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.”

And he should know. He’s noticed a spate of people at his hometown Baltimore church sporting ONA bags. He also sees them around the world and right at home in Jersey City, N.J. In fact, they’re so popular in his circle, Thaniel suspects holiday gift giving is about to become very complicated.

“Last year, people gave me a pass because I was only in the job a month,” Thaniel says. “But next year … I’m scared of how many friends and family I have to give to!”

Posted July 2016