In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($12), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Lauren Conrad, Sally Singer, Candice Lake, and more. Up next? Julie Wainwright.
Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of TheRealReal, is a powerful and influential businesswoman in the fashion industry. As an e-commerce pioneer, Julie Wainwright was CEO of Reel.com in 1997 and Pets.com in 1999 before founding the luxury consignment site TheRealReal. With several tech and business awards under her belt, she's no stranger to success and hard work. With her entrepreneurial skills and innovative way of thinking, she's truly changing the game as the leader in authenticated luxury consignment.
Scroll down to learn how Wainwright got to where she is and her advice for feeling powerful.
"Orchestra conductor—sometimes the music is sublime."
"CEOs who hire a strong team end up learning more than one would think. It's fun and challenging."
"Sensible shoes and a bow-tie blouse. While bow-tie blouses are back, sensible shoes left my wardrobe a long time ago."
"In today's world right now, Bernie Sanders, to make sure that he understands the work polices he is basing his platform on would have significant negative consequences on small businesses. In fact, it would slow the formation of small business formation and ultimately hurt entrepreneurs, especially women who are the drivers of small businesses and the economic growth in the U.S."
"Business of Fashion, WWD, Recode, The WSJ, W magazine, Who What Wear, Vogue.com, Marie Claire, and The New York Times."
"Early in my career, as I was being promoted, I kept asking for salary increases. I should have asked for more equity."
"Someone who can get things done quickly. Someone who understands how to balance being strategic with being scrappy. Someone who is a great team player. Someone who has integrity and honesty. Someone who is a great, creative problem-solver."
"High heels! I love being able to reach things and look at people somewhat at eye level. (I am 5 feet, 3 inches on a good day.)"
"Demanding, honest, funny, no nonsense."
"Work out. Nature walks. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. Visit an artist's studio or art museum. Read fiction and biographies."
"Give your employer two weeks' notice. Work with them in the transition. Do not burn bridges. The relationships you are leaving may be the ones you need references from in two to three years."
"Entry-level employees can think the company they joined owes them something. It does not: It is a company—you work, you get paid (and the converse is true). In fact, a company tends to invest in the employee heavily for the first two to three months without expecting the employee to work at full performance."
"I eat at my desk, usually a OatMega bar. Too much food at lunch slows me down. Business lunches are rare for me."
"I am up before 6 a.m. in the gym by 6:30 a.m. every day I can. It gives me focus and energy that carry me. In the evening, I do not look at email after 9 p.m. (emergencies are excepted). That is a new rule for me, by the way, and it seems to be allowing me to sleep better."
"My father says to look at the whole person/situation/etc.; do not put everything under a microscope. You can get stuck in the details and miss the big picture.
"My first boss said 'Think of your life as a marathon, and you will chart better long-term goals.'
"A good friend said, 'You have everything you need to succeed in life inside of you—believe this and they will emerge.'
"And then one from various spiritual teachers that is still a challenge for me (especially since I do believe that women have it harder in business and often in life)—'How would you live your moments if you truly knew that the universe supports you toward the best and higher purpose always?'"
"At TheRealReal, we are rolling out beautiful fine jewelry and watch valuation centers across the U.S. staffed with professional gemologists. These are so exciting for consignors, as we are offering free, transparent valuations with no pressure to consign. It's a great service, especially since other options are pawn shops.
"In my personal life, I am learning to cook (yep, I missed that course in my teens/onward), entertaining more at home and considering starting to paint again. I used to draw and paint quite a bit in my spare time; I just haven't had that much spare time in the last five years."
If you could ask the CEO one question, what would it be? Let us know in the comments below, and shop TheRealReal's new arrivals.