In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—on their "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
It takes countless nights burning the midnight oil and tons of groundwork to get a new business up and running. Rati Levesque knows. She's lived through it. As chief operating officer of The RealReal—an online marketplace for pre-owned luxury items—and CEO Julie Wainwright's right hand woman, Levesque remembers the early days of getting into the consignment business.
"Starting an online consignment business was exciting, [especially] where sustainability was concerned," Levesque tells me. "[Julie and I] worked long hours, we started at 6 a.m. and left around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. every day. [We did everything] from getting the site up, to cataloging products, to calling friends and family in the beginning to get products. It was a rewarding process."
Before joining The RealReal, Levesque owned a boutique and ran a consignment shop in the back of her store. She met Wainwright through friends and they hit it off. Wainwright had a hunch that the online consignment business was untapped and full of potential. She wanted Levesque to help her. "I thought, what a cool idea, no one is doing this online yet, and signed on. Two weeks later we were working in her house," Levesque recalls.
The RealReal officially made its debut in 2011 and, since then, has accumulated more than 9 million members (full disclosure: I'm one of them) and about 2,000 employees worldwide, and has sold more than 8 million pre-owned luxury items from the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Prada, to name a few. Some of those goodies from Levesque's closet herself—she consigns her own gems and some of her family's every other month. Levesque is also a frequent shopper of The RealReal (she's currently loving all the Bottega Veneta on the site).
I caught up with Levesque to chat about all things work, including her power outfit for the office. I even managed to fish out some quick tips for navigating The RealReal, so you find your favorite pieces and deals in a flash.
Her Morning Routine
"I wake up and get some exercise in, whether that is running, going to the gym, or walking to the neighborhood park. This gives me the endurance and brain power that I need for the rest of the day. I have breakfast, get the kids ready for school, and walk them there. I'm lucky we're located centrally so we can all walk together. I then take the Muni into work."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"Everything kind of meshes together for me when it comes to my work life and my home life. Meaning, I don’t have separate clothes I wear for work vs. home vs. [when I go out]. I'll usually wear flats or sneakers with a dress to go out in. My outfits are based on comfort since I walk to work—I keep a pair of heels in my bag—or am (usually) carrying my kids' backpacks. The weather plays a huge factor into how I dress, too, because it gets cold, even in the summer [in San Francisco], so I make sure I have a light jacket with me. We don't have much seasonality, it's constantly layers."
Her Work Uniform
"It depends what the trends are. I definitely use Instagram and friends for inspiration. [I look at] interior design images and the mood, rather than following specific influencers, because I feel more inspired by people when I know them. Personality has a huge affect on the way you're dressed and how that comes out. Right now, I am wearing more tops and bottoms than I did a year ago. I have a few more pantsuits and skirts in my wardrobe, too.
I am a fan of The Row because it's comfortable and classic for work. I love Maryam Nassir Zadeh, too, because she has interesting picks and I like to discover emerging designers. I've been loving Prada and Bottega Veneta and are pairing them with more emerging pieces. I carry a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag, though I do not bring my laptop home every day; I have one for the office and one for home. [That gives me leeway to carry things like] this Prada mesh bag and a RealReal tote, which I put my lunch into. If I have time, I will slip on my go-to watch and some jewelry—I love Lizzie Fortunato and have a few pieces from her.
The RealReal is definitely the place I shop most often for clothes, along with MatchesFashion and Net-a-Porter. [Some of my favorite ways to shop The RealReal are] through our app or going to new arrivals and filtering by editor's picks. Those are curated with trends in mind by our merchants for our customers."
The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Classic, luxe with an unexpected twist."
"As I am raising children, I think a lot about resilience and flexibility because those kind of qualities are important when you're wanting to do something different or, specifically, be happy in your career. It's really easy to get bogged down by people telling you 'no' or 'you have to do it this way,' so the resilience is really important."
If you love Levesque's work style, shop similar pieces, here.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.