This article originally appears in the July 2017 issue of ELLE.
“Talent is equally distributed,” social entrepreneur Stacey Boyd says. “It’s opportunity that is not.” The idea for Olivela—Boyd’s new e-commerce site, which donates up to 40 percent of proceeds to children’s charities—came to her last summer, when she flew to Kenya and Rwanda to celebrate what is known there as Malala Day, the birthday of 2014 Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, now 19. Traveling with Malala, Boyd met girls in makeshift primary schools in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, and in Mahama, a new camp that provides safe haven to more than 50,000 Burundians, 4,000 of them unaccompanied minors. “There is nothing more stark than realizing that it’s a lottery when your child is born,” says Boyd, a mother of two. “That they’re just really lucky to be born in a place that has so much to offer.”
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A San Francisco-based former middle-school English teacher and principal with a joint master’s degree in business administration and public policy from Harvard, Boyd has already launched several successful initiatives, including Global Learning Ventures, an education consulting firm that works with NGOs in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, and Schoola, a site selling gently worn clothing that supports more than 31,000 schools in the U.S.
The name Olivela comes from the olive tree, a symbol of peace and wisdom, and vela, the Latin word for “ship’s sails,” to connote setting kids on the right course in life. Selling luxury brands’ excess and past-season merch at up to a 40 percent discount, the site offers fashion lovers a chance to invest in children’s futures simply by buying the investment pieces they already love. “It’s about the beauty of the product, combined with a commitment to nudging the world a little,” Boyd says. On the site, a widget tells you exactly where your dollars are going. An $1,100 Edie Parker clutch with “good” spelled out across its acrylic surface, for example, will provide 1,156 days’ worth of baby essentials, including strollers, cribs, diapers, and bottles, through Jessica Seinfeld’s Good+ Foundation; dance-floor-ready $815 Aquazzura jeweled flats give 12 children access to a school piano through VH1 Save the Music Foundation; and an $805 Salvatore Ferragamo chain-strap shoulder bag will offer 29 days of school for a girl in one of more than a dozen developing countries through the Malala Fund. Best of all: You can give a girl a day of school simply by signing up for the Olivela e-mail list.