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Julie Wainwright

Founder & Chief Executive, The RealReal

Julie Wainwright's Live Mosaic

What is the BoF 500?

The BoF 500 is the definitive professional index of the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry, hand-selected by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on hundreds of nominations received from current BoF 500 members, extensive data analysis and research.

Biography

As founder and chief executive of The RealReal , Julie Wainwright has created one of the most successful online luxury consignment sites. With sales exceeding an estimated $400 million and a recent injection of a further $50 million in funding, Wainwright believes The RealReal will become a billion dollar business in the next few years.

Wainwright, who graduated from Purdue University, was an early tech entrepreneur and e-commerce pioneer. She headed up Reel.com, an online video site, in 1997 before taking over as chief executive of Pets.com in 1999. A now symbolic case study of the dot.com boom and bust, the site collapsed after going public in 2000, losing $300 million of capital investment. In the wake of its failure, Wainwright was involved with a number of other online start-ups, before launching The RealReal in 2011.

Inspired when she watched a friend spend “$5,000 in 20 minutes” in the consignment section of a store, Wainwright decided to establish an online e-commerce portal for pre-owned luxury and high-end designer goods that customers could trust completely. To achieve this The RealReal has a strict and lengthy process to ensure fakes never make it onto the site. Wainwright realised that while eBay dominated the consignment market online, when it came to reselling luxury fashion goods, curation and authentication were key. Her aim, she told USA Today, was “to take the top end of eBay and the bottom end of Sotheby’s and Christie’s.”

In its first two years, The RealReal sold over 250,000 items, with between 60 to 70 percent of the profit going back to the original owner. Today, The RealReal has over 6 million subscribed members and has raised over $173 million in investment.

Wainwright’s site has shifted attitudes amongst customers in the luxury shopping market, who are willing to buy more now that they understand the true resale value of high-end products. At The RealReal’s core is consumer faith in the company – something that has previously been lacking from the online luxury consignment market.

Career

The RealReal

The RealReal

Founder & Chief Executive

2011 - Present

San Francisco, United States

SmartNow.com

SmartNow.com

Chief Executive

2008 - 2011

San Francisco, United States

Bellamax

Bellamax

Chief Executive

2003 - 2006

San Francisco, United States

Education

Purdue University

Purdue University

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Vital Statistics

Nationality

United States

Location
United States

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