The luxury apparel merchant plans to use the new funding to expand its business both physically and digitally, allowing it to partner with more charities.

Luxury apparel retailer Olivela has raised $35 million in a Series A funding round, led by Morgan Stanley & Co. International.

The retailer plans to use the new funds to expand its business “both digitally and physically,” says CEO and founder Stacey Boyd. “We are building our internal product team to continually evolve the product offering to ensure that it’s best in class, while also expanding our retail footprint in the U.S. and internationally,” she says.

This expansion of its business also will help Olivela find and partner with more charitable organizations in the U.S. and around the world, Boyd says.

Olivela operates with a mission: to provide girls in underdeveloped countries the opportunity to go to school. 20% of every purchase goes to benefit educating girls around the world through one of its three partner charitable organizations: Malala Fund, CARE and Too Young to Wed. As of mid-September 2019, sales from Olivela have provided more than 161,000 days of school to girls worldwide, the retailer says.

The new funding in part will be used to fuel Olivela’s new campaign for the quarter called “Women’s Empowerment.” The campaign includes a trip to Jordan where Boyd will meet with 30 young women who were sent to school from Olivela’s donations last year, as well as 100 more who will go to school next year thanks to purchases on Olivela.com and in store.

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The merchant launched online in June 2017 after Boyd took a trip in 2016 with activist Malala Yousafzai for Malala Day—celebrated on Yousafzai’s birthday on July 12 to commemorate a speech she made to the United Nations in 2013 to advocate for girls’ education—where she visited girls in refugee camps in Kenya and Rwanda. As she carried around her designer bag, Boyd realized she could send the girls she met to school for a year for a fraction of her bag’s cost. When she returned home, Boyd called several luxury brands and told them about her experience. Soon after, she launched Olivela with 12 luxury brands, including Valentino, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana. Now, it stocks more than 400 luxury brands.

In its stores in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Aspen, Colorado, Olivela uses technology to show off every purchase’s “Olivela Effect.” Within 11 seconds of completing a purchase, a customer sees the impact of her purchase displayed on the wall. For example, it might say: “Thank you, Ashley, you just sent a girl to school for 53 days.” Olivela developed technology that connects with its point-of-sale system to do this.

Olivela plans to open additional boutiques this year with the funding, but it is ramping up its focus on the holidays. The merchant did 90 times the number of transactions in December 2018 than in January 2019, Boyd says. “So, we are looking forward to this holiday season with expanded offerings and brands,” she says.

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