Breaking New Ground
Possibly the most difficult thing about starting a new business is finding a niche that hasn’t already been filled numerous times and in myriad ways. However, Julie Wainwright, after making a 2010 trip to the wealthy Silicon Valley town of Atherton with a friend where she noticed that her friend had purchased remarkable designer items in a consignment store, has done just that. Torn between being impressed and slightly aghast at such an “atrocity,” her revelation after that day of shopping has led her down not only a yellow brick road but onto a bright green and almost emerald city road to success. After that trip, Wainwright returned to her home and tried selling some of the several designer items she owned via different popular venues, including EBay, consignment, and even through a pawnbroker. All three of those vendors were much less than successful.
A Silver Shovel is Born
These combined circumstances were the impetus that compelled Wainwright to choose the name “The RealReal” for her unborn brainchild. By the end of June, 2011, she had also rented a 1,500 SF warehouse and set up an office. Her product? Provision of high-end, second-hand designer merchandise sold on consignment by celebrities and wealthy shoppers. These luxury brands include Valentino, Gucci, and Fendi. The RealReal now provides an opportunity for those possibly on a mildly tighter budget to obtain such treasures within their substantial budget, as the items continue to carry a pretty impressive resale value. Wainwright also didn’t strive to replicate mass merchandisers like Amazon; she sought to offer personalized provisions of authenticated designer items online and in her two store locations. The company’s website has attracted over eight million members since its inception. The company has grown to 1,500 employees between its San Francisco and New York locations. Furthermore, $173,000 in venture capital has compelled the company to fund an endowed chair in Gemology at the University of Arizona’s College of Science.
Surreptitious Business Builders for RealReal
Additionally, Wainwright and her colleagues have been clever and ingenuitive enough to create ways to provide “insider” information to potential buyers by making high fashion not only accessible, but also in teaching them how to recognize designer items and how to authenticate handbags and other accessories via free workshops at her two locations. Make a trip to the bathroom at their SoHo location and your cultural awareness is additionally enhanced because you will hear piped in recordings, such as this one: “The RealReal’s Guide to Designer Pronunciation.” You will hear a woman’s voice elegantly enunciating words such as “Givenchy,” and informing you to use your best French accent to pronounce the word — not your Northeast USA collaquailly enhanced accent from Manhattan or Long Island. Other mini-lessons in correctly pronouncing designer’s monikers and appropriate jargon then follow.
See More… For RealReal
The classy consignment shoppe has a “real” impressive following on twitter and on instagram as well. Interesting proverbs are scattered throughout The RealReal Instagram site, such as this one by Oscar Wilde: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” Wainwright has certainly cultivated a sensible way for others to live rich on a moderate income.