When founder and CEO Stacey Boyd set out to create her company, Olivela, she wanted to establish a luxury shopping platform with a philanthropic mission baked into the core business model. The 5-year-old company donates 20% of net proceeds from every purchase to the consumer’s charity of choice from Olivela’s list of partners, at no cost to the consumer or brand partners.
“There are three pillars we work in,” 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 set people forward on the best path in life.”
“Purpose matters to [our customers],” said Boyd. “As we think about developing and creating the Olivela website, no one is going to buy something simply because it does good. Our customer is going to buy a bag because she loves the bag. She’s going to choose to buy it from Olivela versus somewhere else because of the good that 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’ve honed 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 consumer has looked for, particularly over the course of the past few years. We have some pretty wonderful brands in [our beauty vertical], including Dr. Barbara Sturm, Vintner’s Daughter and Augustinus Bader. Our focus is on finding the brands we know our consumers will really love. We focus on these brands and tell their stories.”
The power of pop-ups
“We find, especially in a location like Nantucket, [pop-ups] are a wonderful way to acquire a VIP customer, those that we do a lot of personal shopping for in the luxury space. Pop-ups have been a wonderful way for us to get the word out on the brand and what it is we do. We have a great Instagram wall. Early on in our pop-up [journey], Jennifer Lawrence walked in and bought a classically Nantucket straw bag. There, on the wall, was: ‘Thank you, Jennifer. You just sent a girl to school for 22 days.’ Everybody who buys something in 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 chairman of LVMH, and we were talking about how the world is really stuck in 1832, Paris. Then, it was the cholera outbreak. All of the ‘haves’ left Paris, while all of the ‘have nots’ stayed. This wasn’t something that lasted a number of months, it lasted years. The chairman thought the merging of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is what’s unique about Olivela’s business model. Finding a way for those two [ideals] to live together and support one another is a really important part of luxury going forward. While [Olivela] might have been a little bit ahead of our time, you’re seeing luxury brands thinking more about that and that being the beginning of how people are shifting and moving. It’s very challenging times, and [the chairman] is right about this place the world is in. It’s a scary place, in a lot of ways. There needs to be, especially given the income inequality at the heart of a lot of the unrest, this knitting together. There are a lot of different ways we can do it. Olivela is a very small example of one way businesses could think about that.”