How Fashion Company Olivela Is Helping Refugee Girls Go Back To School

Fashion with a cause.

Courtesy of Olivela.

With so much poverty and displacement in the world today, shopping for high-end fashion can often feel like an unnecessary indulgence. While it is important to support the amazing designers and creatives behind these incredible styles, it's also good to consider the impact behind your purchase.

After a visit to refugee camps with Malala Yousafzai, serial entrepreneur Stacey Boyd came up with an idea to allow folks to shop for these luxe brands while also giving back to the high-risk girls living without access to schools. Inspired by her trip, Boyd founded Olivela, a luxury beauty and fashion platform with 20% of each sale directly benefiting the education of girls worldwide through partners CARE, Malala Fund, and Too Young To Wed. With no additional markup for the customer, your purchase is optimized to give to those who need it most and empower them with knowledge to become self-sufficient and grow.

In honor of style month, we chatted with Stacey Boyd about her mission, how we can shop for good, and the importance of supporting refugee girls around the world. Read ahead to learn the story behind her innovative company.

Olivela founder Stacey Boyd at a refugee camp where she's helping fund education. 
Olivela founder Stacey Boyd at a refugee camp where she's helping fund education. 
Courtesy of Olivela.

Lonny: What inspired you to found Olivela?

Stacey Boyd: The idea for Olivela came to me almost two years ago, when I flew to Kenya and Rwanda to celebrate what is known there as Malala Day, the birthday of 2014 Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, now 20 and studying at Oxford. Traveling with Malala, I met girls in makeshift primary schools in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, and in Mahama, another camp that provides safe haven to more than 50,000 Burundians — 4,000 of them unaccompanied minors.

I knew then that we could unleash the equity in luxury shopping to yield benefit and opportunity for so many children around the globe. And I knew that I could draw on experience and expertise from having launched Schoola, which aims to benefit public schools here in the United States.

Can you share what your experience with Malala Yousafzai was like?

SB: I was once again reminded how similar young women are around the world. We all have individual dreams for ourselves and we all want the freedom to pursue them. There is nothing starker than realizing that it’s a lottery when your child is born. That they’re just really lucky to be born in a place that has so much to offer. Because while talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. 

Why is it so important to fight for education for girls, specifically refugees?

SB: We want to do what we can to ensure that girls around the world have access to safe and consistent education so that they can reach their potential.

How Fashion Company Olivela Is Helping Refugee Girls Go Back To School
Courtesy of Olivela.

What change has Olivela already brought about through its donations?

SB: To date we have provided girls with 34,865 days of schooling simply by purchasing the things they love. We’ve had an absolute and utter embrace by both the fashion and beauty brands but also by shoppers, who are thrilled to add depth and impact to their purchases.

Do you think that all retail businesses should also strive towards supporting a broader social goal?

SB: Todays consumer is often as passionate about the things she loves as she is the causes she cares deeply about. There is a growing expectation among shoppers that retail and commerce be both conscious and responsible. It’s not enough though to link shopping with philanthropy. The magic sparks when the causes are organic to the enterprise and the connection is rooted in authenticity. 

I am Lonny's Senior Associate Editor. You can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at shelby.wax@livingly.com or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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