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For anyone who has dreamed of curating a retail boutique, minus the pesky details of finding a location, purchasing inventory or setting up a website, the trio behind Orca is offering a timely solution.
Max Benator co-created Orca (orcashop.co) as a platform-agnostic retail opportunity that allows any influencer to monetize his or her social-media following. Currently on such sites and platforms as Amazon Live, Instagram and YouTube, Orca showcases live and taped selling segments of influencers extolling the benefits and appeal of everything from K-beauty brands to kitchen essentials, fashion accessories, tech items and children’s toys.
“For the last decade I’ve been thinking about how commerce and online video and content can work together,” Benator explains. When he hit upon the idea of marrying influencers and their audiences with e-commerce, Benator asked two former colleagues in digital and social media, Lauren Stevens and Rachel Ramras, if they would be interested in partnering. Starting in April, they began hosting livestreams out of a studio space they had set up in L.A.’s The Grove.
Though Orca largely has been in stealth mode since November, audiences are paying attention. A “Skincare & Selfcare” livestream hosted by Ramras on May 18 drew 22,043 views and 243 product clicks, while an Amazon “Deals of the Day” livestream in March garnered Orca’s largest audience to date, attracting 110,102 views and 3,223 clicks.
Many of Orca’s curated brands are woman-owned or are steeped in sustainability philosophies. “We’re giving a platform to smaller, independent brands to break through, with real people talking about their products,” says Stevens, who previously worked as a producer on unscripted series like Dance Moms for Lifetime and VH1’s Surreal Life.
Future plans include enlisting celebrities as hosts and debuting a creator app, due to launch by the end of 2021, that will open up the opportunity even further to everyone from models to fitness instructors, bartenders and teachers.
“Think about the interior designer in L.A. who has 15,000 followers,” Benator posits. “They could take a photo of something from a ceramic dishware brand we’re working with in a home they’ve designed, and right away they can be selling it in the app. We’re positioning this not only as a solution for both brands and influencers, but also with the idea that shopping can be entertainment.”
As for the name Orca? Stevens explains the choice: “Killer products, killer deals — and because female Orcas know all the best hunting grounds in the ocean and are leaders — massive, powerful, and beautiful.”
This story first appeared in the June 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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