CEO and founder of The RealReal, Julie Wainright, stumbled upon an untapped market and founded her online designer consignment shop in 2011. After purchasing designer goods from a boutique in Silicone Valley, she realized the value of used designer items. Wainright filed through her own collection at home and try to sell her used items at the usual places — consignment, ebay, pawn shops — but was unhappy with the process. It was then that she realized she’d had an excellent idea. In Wainright’s opinion sites like Amazon do poorly selling luxury. The luxury market is as much about experience as it is authenticity. After Wainright leased an office and warehouse she began creating the online site The RealReal. One key feature of The RealReal is its employment of various experts who guarantee the authenticity of the used items, and weed out the knock-offs.
The majority of sellers on the site have never purchased or sold on consignment before The RealReal. The store’s demographic is largely women, and one third of their customer base is comprised of millennials according to an interview with Wainright on techcrunch.com. The success of the online store has led Julie to open a high-class brick and mortar store in SoHo, New York City. The same principal applies in-house as on the website, though men make up more sales in person than they do online. The success of the store has led Wainright to follow her nose and engage in what her customers are looking to sell. Watches and jewelry have become more popular which has expanded business leading The RealReal to now employ expert gemologists.
As Julie Wainright comes from an art background, and views designer fashion as wearable art, the flagship store has a gallery feel. Sparsely stocked clothing racks, and placards adorn the store’s wares. A trip to the lavatory results in a mini designer education course with the correct pronunciation of designer’s names being spoken over the speakers. The success of The RealReal is due to Wainright’s quick action of implementing an innovative idea, taste, and her commitment to luxury and authenticity.