When Founder and CEO Stacey Boyd decided to start her company, Olivela, she wanted to create a luxury shopping platform with a philanthropic mission embedded at the heart of the business model. The 5-year-old company donates 20% of net proceeds from every purchase to the consumer’s chosen charity from Olivela’s list of partners, at no cost to the consumer or brand partners.
“We work on three pillars,” Boyd said on the latest episode of the Glossy Podcast. Olivela focuses on women’s empowerment, climate action, and health and wellness. “The name is ‘Olive’ for olive trees, a symbol of growth and wisdom, and ‘vela’, which is Latin for the sails of the ship, with the idea that we help people move forward on the best path of life.”
“The goal matters [our customers]“While we think about developing and building the Olivela website, no one is going to buy something just because it feels good,” Boyd said. Our customer is going to buy a bag because she likes the bag. She will choose to buy it from Olivela rather than elsewhere because of the good it does and because she has a choice as a consumer.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Olivela’s approach to curation
“We have a more curated selection [than other luxury retail platforms]. We have perfected and refined the number of brands on our site. We sell ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, [jewelry, accessories, home] and beauty. Beauty has been a big part of what our consumers have been looking for, especially over the past few years. We have very nice brands in [our beauty vertical], including Dr. Barbara Sturm, the winemaker’s daughter and Augustinus Bader. Our goal is to find the brands that our consumers will truly love. We focus on these brands and tell their stories.
The power of pop-ups
“We find, especially in a place like Nantucket, [pop-ups] are a great way to acquire a VIP clientele, those for whom we do a lot of personal shopping in the luxury area. Pop-ups have been a great way for us to spread awareness about the brand and what we do. We have a great Instagram wall. At the start of our pop-up [journey], Jennifer Lawrence walked in and bought a classic Nantucket straw bag. There on the wall was, “Thank you, Jennifer. You just sent a girl to school for 22 days. Everyone who buys something from our store has [access to] this instagrammable wall, so it’s a great way for us to acquire new customers.
The future of luxury
“I was talking with the president of LVMH, and we were talking about how the world is really stuck in 1832, Paris. Then it was the cholera epidemic. All the “haves” left Paris, while all the “ haves” remained. It wasn’t something that lasted months, it lasted for years. The President believed that the merging of “haves” and “have-nots” is what is unique about the business model of Olivela. Find a way for these two [ideals] living together and supporting each other is a very important part of luxury in the future. While [Olivela] was maybe a bit ahead of our time, you see luxury brands thinking about it more and that’s the start of how people change and move. It’s a very difficult time, and [the chairman] is right about where the world is. It’s a scary place, in so many ways. There has to be, especially given the income inequality at the heart of much of the unrest, that connection. There are lots of different ways to do this. Olivela is a very small example of how companies might think about this.