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CEO Spotlight: Julie Wainwright

Anh-Minh Le | October 5, 2016 | Lifestyle Story Shopping

In 2011, when Julie Wainwright launched The RealReal, her goal was to make the online luxury consignment experience easy for both buyers and sellers. Hence, the San Francisco company offers consultations on which items to keep or consign, picks up the apparel and accessories, and guarantees the authenticity of its merchandise. Now, The RealReal—which has raised $123 million from investors such as Sand Hill Road’s Canaan Partners and InterWest Partners—is applying its successful model to home and art. Wainwright spoke with us about the “obvious extension” of the business, as well as the latest additions to her own closet.

Why did you decide to branch out into home and art?
We have a very close relationship with our consignor base, and they started asking us if we would sell these goods as well. We ran a test and saw that our buying base was excited about this home and art category too, so it became an obvious extension for us.

How are you handling the additional logistical concerns that home and art present—from shipping and delivering large pieces to authenticating works?
We tested our way into the demand and the operational challenges while hiring experts to evaluate and price the items that come into our warehouse. And we offer free pickup and storage of the home and art items—an extension of our well-established white-glove service available in all major markets. Across all categories, we do all the heavy lifting for the consignor, something that no one else in the market is doing at this level.

How is the pricing determined?
We consider the provenance of the item, most recent auction or dealer sales prices if applicable (we subscribe to multiple sale databases), the condition of the item and the potential velocity of sale requested by the consignor. We also pay close attention to trends in the home space, emerging designers and unique one-of-a-kind pieces.

Any other categories that you hope to expand into eventually?
We are good for now. With women’s and men’s luxury fashion, fine jewelry and watches, art, and home, a customer can live a very luxurious life surrounded by beautiful things at a great value.

What are some of your favorite The RealReal fashion scores?
I buy—and sell—regularly on TheRealReal. I just bought a fun Gucci Soho leather disco bag in black and an Herm├Ęs wallet.

Originally published in the September issue of Silicon Valley

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