Former Saks Fifth Avenue executive Kristen Sosa has been named chief merchant of the new e-commerce site Olivela, which lets women shop for designer products and assuage their guilt, knowing that their purchases will benefit charity.
Sosa will oversee Olivela’s merchandising vision and relationships with brands such as Aquazurra, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Stella McCartney and Salvatore Ferragamo, among others. Handbags, shoes and accessories are featured by designer and trend. The full-price site layers in merchandise that’s up to one season old. For example, Dolce & Gabbana’s medium Sicily tote bag is marked down to $2,795 from $3,995.
Stacey Boyd, founder and chief executive officer of Olivela, lauded Sosa’s “innate ability to understand fashion trends and customer needs.” Boyd, a former teacher and school principal, created Schoola, an online retailer that sells gently worn clothing to support schools in need.
Olivela, which tries to raise awareness of the plight of children worldwide, enables luxury brands to transform inventory into measurable impact and fund causes. Charities include Good + Foundation, Too Young to Wed, Malala Fund and VH1 Save the Music.
When consumers buy a luxury item, Olivela gives a portion of the proceeds to one of its charitable partners. Customers can see the direct impact of their purchases over time on the site.
“We’ve connected each item we sell to the precise benefit it can deliver through the work of our charitable partners,” Olivela said. “We think it’s more powerful to see your impact in actions than in dollars.”
Sosa, who spent 20 years at Saks Fifth Avenue in various merchandising roles, was most recently chief merchant at Gilt Groupe, the e-commerce site that was acquired by Saks Fifth Avenue. Prior to that, she was senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Off 5th, the off-pricer’s top merchant. During her tenure, Sosa held roles at Bluefly.com and Saks Direct, and worked with product categories such as children’s, men’s and women’s designer ready-to-wear.